While we’re talking about awesome women in the Texas legislature (Wendy Davis, Leticia Van de Putte, Mary Gonzalez, Alma Allen, and everyone else who extended the debate in the House and supported Davis during the Senate filibuster), let me introduce you to Texas State Representative Senfronia Thompson, who represents the north Houston area.
Rep. Thompson, at the time a public school teacher, was elected to the Texas house in 1972 and is currently serving her 20th term in office. I don’t usually copy/paste Wikipedia, but this is as concise as a description of her career can be:
Thompson has chaired both the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the Women’s Health Caucus. She is also a member of the Democratic National Committee, a state director of Women in Government, and a member of the Energy Council. She serves on the House Committees on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, State Sovereignty, Licensing and Administrative Procedures, and chairs the Local and Consent Calendar procedural committee. For 12 years, she chaired the House Judicial Affairs Committees. In 1987, she chaired the first standing committee in the Legislature to have a female majority.
Thompson has authored and passed more than 200 Texas laws, including Texas´ first alimony law, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, laws prohibiting racial profiling, the state minimum wage, the Durable Power of Attorney Act, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the Sexual Assault Program Fund, the Model School Records Flagging Act, the Uniform Child Custody & Jurisdiction Enforcement Act, contraceptive parity, and scores of other reforms benefiting women, children and the elderly. Thompson pushed through major reforms in child support enforcement, simplified probate proceedings, and complete overhauls of statutes dealing with statutory county courts and municipal courts. In 2005, she passed legislation requiring free testing for the human papilloma virus (HPV), an early indicator of cervical cancer, for women who have health insurance.
This is the woman who, while speaking in the House against the parallel bill to SB50, hung a wire coat hanger on the podium. Rep. Thompson is 74. She remembers the days before Roe v. Wade. She knows what the world looks like to women who do not have accessible, safe medical care.
We often focus our accolades on people who serve at the national level. Yesterday was a good reminder that battles are fought on the ground, and it’s our state and local politicians who choose to lead the charge or man the barricades.