The Utah House overwhelmingly passed a joint resolution Wednesday to send a statute of Utah pioneer Dr. Sen. Martha Hughes Cannon to Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, was the House sponsor.
There was typical rancor leading up to the vote revolving around the fact that to send the Cannon statue to Washington, Utah needs to bring a statue of Philo T. Farnsworth home. Farnsworth is best known as the inventor of television.
Even though the resolution easily passed the Senate last month, Rep. Mike Noel, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee, held it for a week before releasing it for a committee hearing. Noel said he felt bad for ol’ Philo.
The Cannon statue is to arrive in Washington during the nation’s celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage. Yes, only 100 years. Utah women enjoyed the right to vote 50 years before the nation recognized it, with the help of pioneering women like Cannon and Emmeline B. Wells.
Girls from across the state were present in the House chambers on Wednesday to support the resolution.
A group of fifth-graders from Westfield Elementary in Alpine traveled to the capital when they heard their state representative, Mike Kennedy, was unsure about the resolution. KUTV reported that the girls “were holding hands and squealing and almost crying.” They went to the Capitol to persuade him to change his mind. And they did.
These things matter.
Ironically, the day before the overwhelming Cannon vote in the House, male senators in the Senate Business and Labor Committee voted to adjourn before voting on Democrat Sen. Luz Escamillas’ bill to study the very real gender wage gap in Utah. Utah has one of the worst gender gaps in the nation.
Not only did these men fail to approve the study, but they sanctimoniously, and incorrectly, lectured Escamilla during the committee hearing that the bill was in the wrong committee and should be looked at during interim instead. Except that the issue was already presented during interim, and Business and Labor was the appropriate committee.
Democrat Sen. Gene Davis spoke in favor of the bill and the need to obtain the important data. When the three present Republican senators realized they had no other valid objections, Sen. Don L. Ipson made an immediate motion to adjourn, which the other two passed. Ipson condescendingly said he wanted to give Escamilla “more time to prepare.”
Let’s stop paying lip service to gender discrimination, listen to our fifth-graders, and support bills that support women.
Correction: A previous version of this editorial misnamed a member of the Utah House of Representatives. He is Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine.