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D.C.’s ‘chick mayor’ throws out prepared remarks

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.”

Women’s March on Washington

Planning started fewer than three months ago from the home of a grandmother in Hawaii in the wake of the unexpected election results. Now, on President Trump’s first full day in office, the Women’s March on Washington is here — and it’s expected to be massive and the biggest demonstration tied to the Trump inauguration.

Upward of 500,000 women are expected to gather near the Capitol on the intersection of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW this morning. (Here’s a bit more about the origins of the march.)

The march is broadly about a demand for equal rights for women after the Democratic Party’s Hillary Clinton, the first woman nominated for president by a major party, was defeated in the November election. But in recent weeks, the march’s organizers have defined it with a progressively liberal agenda and signed on groups like Planned Parenthood as co-sponsors. The platform calls for ending violence against women, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, environmental justice, immigrant rights and more.

The inclusion of reproductive rights in the platform has angered antiabortion activists, who feel that they too are feminists and this march now excludes. Many antiabortion activists still plan to attend the march to participate and make their stances on abortion clear. (Read more about the debate of whether there is a place for antiabortion women in the Women’s March here.)

The planning of the march highlighted many rifts within the feminist movement. Still, march organizers say this is intended to be a positive, forward looking march. And there will be scores of celebrities to mark the occasion. Janelle Monáe will perform, Scarlett Johansson and Ashley Judd will make appearances. And activists Angela Davis and Michael Moore and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) will also be speaking. (Find the full list of speakers here.)

And before you head over make sure to read our rundown of all the logistics you need to know.

The rally will run until about 1:15, and after that, the participants will begin marching west to The Ellipse park, just south of the White House.