Updated: 8:52 a.m. CST, 6/26/2013
Despite attending her father’s funeral on Tuesday, Latina Texas State Senator Leticia Van De Putte still managed to attend yesterday’s historic Texas legislative session and bring the house down after Senator Wendy Davis’ epic filibuster.
With 170,000 viewers tuning into the livestream, Senator Davis attempted to block voting on an anti-abortion bill that, among other restrictive measures, would shut down all but five abortion clinics in Texas. Davis spoke more than 13 hours, without meal or bathroom breaks, and planned to speak through the session’s midnight deadline. However, after three warnings that she violated filibuster rules, Republicans shut her down.
To stall as much as they could, Senator Van de Putte, Senator Kirk Watson and a few other Democrats challenged Republicans’ claims and made parliamentary inquiries. With about 15 minutes left to midnight, Van De Putte was told she wouldn’t be recognized because the Senate moved onto another motion. Arguing that she had made her motion first, she asked, “Did the President hear me or did the President hear me and refuse to recognize me?” It was then that Van De Putte stole the spotlight in a moment that would make her father proud.
“Mr. President, parliamentary inquiry. At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Those words ignited the hundreds of supporters in the Senate gallery. Cheers and applause erupted, continuing for more than 15 minutes in a moment that is now being called “the people’s filibuster.” When senators realized that the senate chair could not regain control, they rushed the podium to cast their vote on the bill. Hours of confusion ensued, with Republicans claiming victory and some media outlets erroneously reporting that the bill had passed. In fact, thanks to Davis’ filibuster, Van De Putte’s rallying of the crowd, and protestors raising their voice, the bill indeed was defeated.