Harris County (Texas) Women's Political Caucus | 12.08.2003 02:45
“I know, it seems improbable that a political organization whose goals are ensuring more women in politics and electing candidates committed to feminist ideals would side with Rep. Tom DeLay,” said Alison Cameron, President of the Harris County Women’s Political Caucus (HCWPC). “However, Rep. DeLay is the only political figure in recent memory who has taken Affirmative Action principles to the point of enforcing quotas. And not just once – but in regular session and two special sessions as well.”
“Rep. DeLay is demonstrably committed to seeing proportionate quotas applied,” added HCWPC Vice President, Vanessa Edwards Foster. “That’s a rarity, even among Democrats!”
Rep. DeLay (R-Sugar Land) has been the sparkplug behind the redistricting of U.S. Congressional districts in Texas. Though Texas’ State Legislature was unable to come up with a plan in the 2001 session, it left the decision to the courts. While 22 of the 32 districts in Texas were designed with at least a slight favoring of Republicans, only 15 of 32 seats elected G.O.P. members.
In an unprecedented move during mid-census, DeLay, the House Majority Leader, ordered the Texas legislature to re-draw the congressional lines. Republicans have repeatedly cited that “56 percent of [Texas state] voters favored Republican congressional candidates” and that the majority of elected representation to Congress was 17-15 in favor of Democrats.
“If anything, we feel Rep. DeLay needs to study this further,” Foster commented. “Women comprise a slight majority of the electorate. We need to ensure that we draw districts that will ensure that at least 16 of the elected Texas Congressional delegation is female.” Currently, Texas has only three female U.S. Representatives: Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston).
“For Texas to only have 10% of its congressional representation being female is atrocious,” Cameron added. “If we’re going to be truly representative, we need women elected to Congress!” However Cameron admitted that drawing those districts and ensuring the quota is reached will be “a challenge.”
Texas’ population is 11% African-American and 32% Latino, which means we should also look forward to four African American district representatives, and no less than ten Latino representatives in the upcoming Congress. “Indeed, as a result of the redistricting, if they are successful Texas should see its first two Gay representatives elected to Congress,” Foster noted, “with one of them being a Gay Republican.”
HCWPC President, Cameron admitted they were “concerned” with the timing of the redistricting, especially the cost of convening special sessions in a year when Texas was battling a record $10 billion shortfall. “Tom DeLay, and the Texas GOP have shown us that some issues are bigger than even budget deficits. Affirmative action and proportionate representation in Congress, and throughout society, are issues that resonate with Texas voters – even conservatives. We must strive to achieve the goals of equality by whatever means available. Hopefully President Bush will take note of Texas’ example and respond accordingly.”
“This can be quite an opportunity for previously disenfranchised Texans or under-represented segments of the population. We may finally see proportionate representation in Congress!” mentioned HCWPC Vice President Foster, adding, “We now have precedent to order the legislature to re-draw district lines again in each session until those proportions are attained. We also have Rep. Tom DeLay who boldly supports this concept. Hopefully he can convince some of his more conservative colleagues to see the light as well.”
The Harris County Women’s Political Caucus encourages the Texas legislature to continue to work until true, proportionate representation for all segments of Texas – race, gender, sexual orientation or political party – is achieved. HCWPC encourages everyone to contact the President, and encourage him to follow the lead of House Majority Leader, Rep. Tom DeLay, and the Texas GOP Delegation to ensure that America recognizes the importance of Affirmative Action, and achieves the goals that program sets forth. Affirmative Action is good for Texas citizens and is also good for America, regardless of cost!
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The Harris County Women’s Political Caucus (HWCPC) works to increase women’s participation in the political process, and to assure an equal voice in political decision-making, to increase the number of women in elected and appointed positions, achieving great equality for women, and to support candidates who support our goals. HCWPC is dedicated to eradicating sexism, racism, racism, anti-Semitism, ageism, violence, poverty, and discrimination against the disabled, discrimination on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or biological gender distinction. HCWPC works to ensure reproductive freedom through a woman’s right to choose, as well as support for public funding for abortions and adequate access to birth control information.