By Liisa Wale
Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
On the first day of the 51st Arizona State Legislature session as the opening day ceremonies began inside the House a swarm of pink converged outside the State Capitol. Woman (and some men) of all ages congregated for the “When Woman Vote, We all Win” opening day rally. There was a card signing table, music and booths. Sixteen organizations came out to sponsor this event including Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Woman Ignite Now and NOW.
Speakers included Paula Aboud, Michelle Steinberg of Arizona Planned Parenthood and Serah Blain of Secular Coalition for Arizona. Aboud spoke of Center for Arizona Policy and it’s control on the legislature. During the 2012 legislative session thirteen of CAP supported bills were signed into law, including a bill that makes it a crime for doctors to perform abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Steinberg got up before the crowd and asked everyone to tell their state legislatures it is “time to stop” passing legislation that puts woman’s health care at risk. In 2011 there were 1000 bills targeting women’s health choices in state legislatures across the country. One concern that was repeated in different ways through the rally is that “every right we have fought for is at risk” and so woman must be vigilant. January 22nd marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark supreme court decision ruling that the constitutional right to privacy protects a woman’s ability to choose. The rally ended as woman created a circle in front of the Arizona State Capitol while some sang “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy.
Throughout the day other groups and organizations came to represent their cause at the state capitol as well. About a dozen from Laborers’ International Union Local #383 made an appearance. The topic of union dues is back in legislative spotlight this session.
After the Woman’s rally convened Citizens for a Better Arizona held a press conference at the State Capitol. CBA was there to send a message to Governor Jan Brewer to demonstrate the “rights of dreamers to drive”. Late last year immigrant rights advocates filed a lawsuit to overturn Brewer’s order denying driver’s licenses to young immigrants who have gotten work permits under a new federal administration policy. On Monday, the Governors attorneys asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for a Better Arizona, brought up the point that if migrants can go to school and get a degree they should be able to get a drivers license in Arizona.
Erika Andiola, a DREAM Act advocate, spoke at the press conference about her mother’s arrest by ICE and thanks to support from the community the deportation was stopped just moments before the bus got to the U.S./Mexico border.
After the press conference a group of 100 people entered the House building where Gov. Brewer was getting ready to present her annual State of the State address. While inside the house lobby a few did a short lived banner drop off the second floor.
Video by Dennis Gilman:
The day concluded with Sheila Ryan, Saul Solis and Chimene Hawes being arrested when leaving the House chambers after a peaceful action. They were cited and then released.