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Women’S Equality Day

Sen. Michael B. Enzi

legislator photo

Mr. President, on August 26, 2011, we recognized the 40th anniversary of Women's Equality Day. It is on this day that we celebrate the many contributions of women in advancing our society by fighting for equality and justice. This day also marked the 91st anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which guaranteed women the right to vote in 1920. Wyoming was the first in the world to allow women to vote and own property. Wyoming adopted it in 1820. That was 50 years before the nation adopted women's suffrage.

Wyoming has a long history of advancing women's rights and actually refused to become a state when the option was women losing their rights. Wyoming became the first State to elect a female Governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, just 5 years after the 19th amendment was ratified by the U.S. Congress. We also had the first female Justice of the Peace, Esther Hobart Morris and her commemoration is one of only a few female statues displayed in the U.S. Capitol today.

While we are certainly proud of our past, I am honored to currently serve in Wyoming's congressional delegation alongside U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis who has been a remarkable leader for Wyoming as she continues the proud tradition of leadership of women in our state. Speaking of firsts, Congresswoman Lummis became the youngest woman ever elected to the Wyoming State Legislature. She was also the first woman to serve on the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo Board. Cynthia has taken on a variety of roles ranging from a lawyer and rancher to a legislator and Wyoming State treasurer. Now in her role in the U.S. House of Representatives, her work continually impresses me as she does an outstanding job serving her constituents and fighting for their interests in Congress.

Without a doubt, the ratification of the 19th amendment to our country's Constitution was a landmark in our need to recognize the voices of women and recognize their contributions to our country. While there is no doubt we are a better country for offering full franchise to women, it needs to be recognized that on Equality Day our Nation recognizes a turning point for progress and civil rights, a watershed moment in our ongoing pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

Women serve as a pillar of strength in our country. I am proud to recognize the 141st year of Wyoming women voting and this 91st anniversary of women gaining the right to vote and look forward to welcoming their achievements and contributions in the years to come and assuring that equality is not just a word.