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.

 

 

Published by Luz Chavez

Luz Chávez is a founding member of Gozamos, an online arts and activism magazine for Latin@ millennials launched in 2010. With strong female and queer representation in its leadership, Gozamos is one of the few Latin@ magazines dedicated to fighting the -isms Latin@s face in and out of our communities. Gozamos is based at Cultura in Pilsen, an art gallery and community space, that Luz co-manages. She also co-founded two of Gozamos's community initiatives, Chicago Latino Writers Initiative and Latin@ Techies, co-organizing first-of-a-kind events in Chicago, such as the Latin@ Hackathon, Bilingual Tech Fair, and an online directory of emerging and experienced Latin@ writers in Chicago. By day, Luz continues her 15-year career in educational publishing.