D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser threw out lengthy prepared remarks she took on stage for Saturday’s address to the Women’s March and instead took the podium and announced: “I wanted to be here to let you know that Washington, D.C. has a chick mayor.”
Bowser, who followed a revved up J. Bob Alotta, the head of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, usually closely follows her prepared remarks, but seemed to realize the moment called for a punchier address than the policy points in her planned speech.
The second woman to lead the nation’s capital, Bowser had campaigned heavily for Hillary Clinton over the last year. Wearing a pink cap told the crowd she was speaking “for all of the women elected officials” who feel unfairly graded, compared to men.
“The women will tell you that we are more harshly criticized. We are more frequently criticized. And we are more wrongly criticized at every single level – be it the school board, be it the statehouse, or candidate for the president of the United States.”
The mayor then quickly highlighted D.C.’s lack of statehood, or even voting representation in Congress, saying the “injustice must end,” especially because a newly emboldened Republican Congress has already taken aim at women’s rights.
A bill that the House could vote on next week would make permanent a congressional ban on the District using its local tax revenue to subsidize abortions for low-income women on Medicaid, as 17 states now do.
“Already, an emboldened congress continues to threaten the rights of women,” Bowser said. “Year to year, they tell us that we can’t use our own money to support low-income women and their health care. And now they want to make it permanent.”
Bowser, who told a gathering of mayors this week that cities would need to be the front lines of protecting progressive reforms made under President Obama, signaled that D.C. would be particularly focused on public classrooms.
D.C. has a federally required school voucher program and many in city government fear the program could be expanded dramatically if Trump’s administration has its way.
“Mayors have to stand up for women’s rights, for reproductive rights, for LGBTQ rights. We have to stand up to fight climate change,” Bowser said. “And we have to stand up for public education, because that’s what our kids need.
Bowser concluded her three-minute speech by leading the crowd in a chant of “leave us alone.”
“So let me just say this, because this is what we tell the Congress and this is what you should tell them from your state: The best thing the federal government can do for us is to leave us alone.”