Political News

Female lawmakers wear white to continue State of the Union tradition

Posted February 4, 2020 10:07 p.m. EST

— Many female Democratic lawmakers arrived at Tuesday's State of the Union address dressed in white to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women first having the right to vote.

Dozens of women, many of them House Democrats led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, wore white as a tribute to the suffragettes.

Early advocates for women's voting rights wore white as a symbol of purity and to reassure onlookers that their protests were nonviolent while lobbying for the 19th Amendment, which granted white women the right to vote in 1920. Women of color were not universally granted suffrage until 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Several of the women also wore green "ERA YES" buttons in a show of support for the Equal Rights Amendment, which would ban discrimination on the basis of sex and guarantee equality for women under the Constitution. Multiple states have weighed in on both sides of the issue of late, and the House will vote next Monday on whether to rescind an expired congressional deadline for ratifying the amendment, according to the office of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

This isn't the first year white outfits have been spotted during the annual address. Last year, the House Democratic Women's Working Group invited women of both parties to wear white to the address as a symbol of solidarity.

"Wearing suffragette white is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country, and a declaration that we will not go back on our hard-earned rights," Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, the chair of the working group, told CNN at the time.

In 2017, the same group coordinated Democratic women wearing white to Trump's joint address to Congress. At the time, the women said they were wearing white not only in memory of the women's suffrage movement but also to show Trump their support for a number of issues affecting women, including affordable health care, reproductive rights and equal pay.

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