Wednesday, during debate over yet another anti-abortion bill in the Michigan House, Democratic Representatives Lisa Brown of West Bloomfield and Barb Byrum of Onondaga, got emotional in their opposition to the bill. On Thursday, the male Republican leaders of the House barred them from speaking on any subject.
After being gaveled by Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas of Midland as being “out of order” for telling her male colleagues that “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina, but no means no,” Rep. Brown was prevented from speaking about a different bill about teacher retirement. She is the minority vice-chair of the Education Committee, but she was advised by the Minority Floor Leader Kate Segal of Battle Creek that she would not be recognized to speak for all of Thursday on any subject.
Rep. Byrum marched through the House gallery on Wednesday protesting the fact that she was not being allowed to speak on her own amendement to the anti-abortion bill, an amendment that required proof of medical emergency for a man to have a vasectomy. For that, Rep. Byrum was also banned from speaking on Thursday.
Art Adler, spokesman for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger of Marshall, put the sauce on the goose for this one. His explanation for the barring of these two women from exercising their right to speak on behalf of their constituents on the was this: “They behaved in a way that disupted the decorum of the House. For Brown, it was not the words she used, but the way she used them that resulted in her being gaveled down.” In Byrum’s case, Adler said, “I hate to put it this way, but she essentially had a temper tantrum on the House floor…The reality is, we have two representatives not being recognized today because of their actions yesterday. It has nothing to do with their gender or religion or the topics they were speaking about.”
Really? These two women were not silenced today because they are women? These two women were not silenced today because they oppose the bill, which effectively ends abortion in Michigan? These two women were not silenced today because they oppose the Republican agenda of religion-based legislation to curtail civil rights? These two women were not silenced because they were being “emotional” females?
At least Adler didn’t suggest they were “on the rag” or suffering from PMS, but the reasons for barring these women were sexist and patronizing.