Sunday, June 04, 2006

An Excellent Act of Congress

Now, don't get excited. Although the U.S. Congress does occasionally pass some excellent legislation, the one I'm talking about goes back a few years. 87 to be exact. On this day in 1919, the 66th Congress passed a Joint Resolution consisting of only 39 words. And when three-fourths of the states ratified it by August 18, 1920, women could finally vote in the United States.

You probably can't read them on the image to the right, so here are those historic words:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

It took years of marches, hunger strikes, civil disobedience, women locked in jails, and perhap a few non-conjugal nights, but the men of the U.S. Congress and the states finally did the right thing. Women first voted in national elections in November 1920. There were and continue to be attempts to intimidate, dismiss, and discourage the "women's vote." It didn't work then, and it certainly doesn't work now.

When my grandmother was married, she could not vote. I doubt she ever marched for women's suffrage, but I'm absolutely sure she voted as soon as she could. She recognized how valuable a right it was when the world was just recovering from the "War to End All Wars." How much more important is it that women vote today, when the world clearly hasn't learned that wars end nothing but young lives?

No comments: