The Utah Capitol was a flurry of excitement Wednesday as Utah celebrated the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Legislators sported yellow roses to mark the day.
I was lucky to be present as Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution that honored women. This was something extraordinary to witness. The event featured wonderful speakers, a strong and passionate poem written and read by Utah’s own poet laureate, Paisley Rekdal, and uplifting and emotional performances by the Westlake High School Madrigals.
However, something was missing. Then, the governor’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. As he was giving a heartfelt speech about his own mother-in-law making the difficult trek across the plains with the pioneers, he noted that women arrived in Utah where they had “equal rights.” He said those exact words.
How can we celebrate suffrage when women still do not have equality under the United States Constitution? Yes, equality is in our state constitution, but how does that help when federal laws take priority? Or when laws protecting women are repealed or allowed to lapse? Or when we travel or move to other states?
Every lawmaker who wore a yellow rose on Wednesday should think deeply about whether they really treasure, value and honor women. If they do, they will join our ongoing fight for equality and support HJR7 — Utah’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Wearing a yellow ribbon and doing otherwise is insincere, hypocritical and insulting to women in Utah and across the country.
Charlotte Maloney, Millcreek