MR PRESIDENT, today I would like to speak on a topic very important to my wife Diana, me, and all of Wyoming - and should be important to all of America. It’s a topic of great importance in Wyoming. A topic at the core of what makes Wyoming the Equality State. It is Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day, tomorrow. I recently had the pleasure of introducing and, along with my friend Senator Barrasso, passing Senate Resolution 430, which recognizes tomorrow, December 10, 2019, as "Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day.”
Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day celebrates the contributions of women to our great state and Wyoming’s place in history as a trailblazer for women’s suffrage. 150 years ago, on December 10, 1869, the Wyoming Territory approved the first law in legislative history of the United States recognizing women’s inherent right to vote and hold public office 50 years before the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. This historic step even preceded Wyoming’s statehood. The young territory granted women the right to vote 20 years before becoming the 44th state admitted to the Union. In fact, when Congress invited Wyoming to join the Union and demanded that women’s suffrage be revoked, the Wyoming Legislature said, “We will remain out of the Union one hundred years rather than come in without women.” This pioneering spirit is truly remarkable and something I keep at the front of my mind every day as I continue my work in the Senate.
Wyoming was not going to allow the acknowledgement of women’s right to vote to be ceremonial or artificial. In fact, one short year after recognizing women’s right to vote, women began holding public office throughout Wyoming, serving as the first women in the United States to do so. In 1870, Esther Hobart Morris became the first female justice of the peace, serving in South Pass City, Wyoming. That year Wyoming also saw the country’s first all-female jury, and the first woman bailiff in the world, Martha Symon Boies. Later, in 1894, Estelle Reel Meyer became Wyoming’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, the country’s first female statewide elected official. From 1920 to 1921, Jackson, Wyoming, was the first town in the U.S. governed completely by women. These trailblazing women embodied the cowboy values we hold dear and showed that Wyoming truly has earned its title as the Equality State.
Just as they did in 1869, women's voices and their votes continue to help build our economy and guide our democracy. Throughout history, Wyoming has been home to many remarkable women and today still recognizes how important women are to the success of the state. This continued dedication to being the Equality State has made Wyoming home to trailblazing women’s organizations like the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, a nonpartisan caucus that advocates for the support and leadership of women in all levels of government; Climb Wyoming, which helps single mothers transition to long-term self-sufficiency through better paying jobs – including non-traditional jobs that are key to Wyoming’s economy. Climb Wyoming does this through innovative programing that goes far beyond just job training; And the Wyoming Women's Business Center, which supports aspiring female entrepreneurs and business owners through educational tools to help them plan, start, and grow successful businesses. As a former small business owner myself, I know how important these businesses are to the fabric of our great state.
"Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day” is a testament to the contributions women have made - and continue to make - to Wyoming and the values that make our state stand out as an example for the rest of the country. I look forward to working with Senator Barrasso and Congresswoman Cheney to ensure Wyoming continues to do things the cowboy way, striving to uphold the tradition of excellence and equality today and well into the future.
MR PRESIDENT, I yield the floor.