June 25, 2013
Austin’s capitol is quite lovely, constructed of pink marble.
One of the monuments outside the capitol commemorates the Confederate dead.
The floor in the center of the rotunda contains the coat of arms of Texas, along with the motto “Remember the Alamo” and “Texas One and Indivisible”, which surround images of the Alamo and more of those famous Lone Stars.
We were lucky to be in Austin on the day of the now historic 11-hour filibuster by state senator Wendy Davis. The filibuster was to prevent voting on a bill which would restrict abortion rights to the extent that the effect would be the closing of all but 5 women’s reproductive clinics in the entire state of Texas. A few days earlier, protesters dressed in orange had flooded the capitol carrying signs and banners. Today, people (again most of them wore orange shirts) lined up to get into the senate chamber to see Wendy Davis’s filibuster. The line snaked around the rotunda, out the door and down the hall. Once we got in, we were required to find seats, or we would not be allowed to stay. Therefore, in order to allow others to see a bit of this historic event, we didn’t stay long.
Sen. Davis stood wearing a white suit and bright pink gym shoes in the middle of the Senate floor, reading from a large binder bursting with documents. Another friendly senator occasionally approached to hand her more papers to read from.
The rules say that if one conducts a filibuster, (s)he must stand, not lean on furniture, no food or water to drink. Also one is to stick to the topic of the bill and not go off on tangents. Because Sen. Davis did deviate somewhat from the topic directly, she was given 2 penalties. A 3rd penalty was given earlier, when she was fitted with a back brace – also not allowed. Her filibuster lasted about 11 hours, ended 15 minutes before midnight on the day a vote was to be taken, so it was temporarily successful because there wasn’t time for the Senate to reconvene and vote on the bill. However, another special session was called early in July to reintroduce and vote on the bill, at which time it passed and was signed by Gov. Rick Perry.