The month of March is recognized as “Women’s History Month” — officially established by Congress in 1987 — which made today a good time for the State House of Representatives to discuss a resolution marking the 100th anniversary of the first effort to establish the Equal Rights Amendment.
While you might not expect this to be particularly controversial — though there is conservative opposition to the idea — you can never underestimate the ability of the lunatic Republican micro-minority in the State House to turn even the most benign discussion into an hours-long rant about abortion, transgender athletes, and even gun rights.
There’s a lot to discuss here. Keep reading, because things get progressively weirder as the yammering continues.
Senate Joint Resolution 23-006 is the Colorado legislature’s effort to prod Congress toward approving the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex. What should have been a fairly straightforward discussion devolved into all sorts of ridiculous nonsense, led again by “The Unambigiously Lame Duo” of Republican Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf. There were plenty of other Republicans rushing to the podium to air their grievances, including Reps. Richard Holtorf, Stephanie Luck, and Brandi Bradley. Once again, House Minority “Leader” Mike Lynch was apparently fine with letting his caucus elaborate at length on why Colorado voters should never, under any circumstances, allow these people to be in charge of anything.
Let’s begin with Rep. Bottoms, who marched through a gathering of female lawmakers to tell everyone about how he is more of a feminist than his own wife:
“I’d like to speak to this amendment, and why I strongly agree with it and to give some language to it also.”
In other words, let me explain the ERA to you ladies…
Bottoms talked about being an ordained minister and how his wife — also a minister — had a tough time being formally ordained in their “Assemblies of God’ ministry. “I know how this actually works firsthand,” said Bottoms, apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word ‘firsthand.’
Bottoms then pivoted from his amazing feminism to his real point: Abortion.
In fact, I am a little more egalitarian than my wife is. So I have fought this sometimes when she just wants it to move on because she’s fighting too big of a machine. I don’t let that happen – I fight FOR her, because I actually believe in rights of women. Not SOME rights of women, but all women. I believe in unborn women’s rights. I believe in all women’s rights, on every single level.
Bottoms then read aloud a passage of a famous letter from John Adams to his wife, Abagail Adams:
‘But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. — This is rather too coarse a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.’
“That one really speaks to me,” said Bottoms. He then moved on to explain how Republicans are the true warriors for women’s rights:
“[Adams] is saying that our brave heroes would fight for women. We are pushing back in today’s context. This started out – as mentioned earlier – this started out as a Republican mentality. When the Democrats took it over, it stalled out, completely, until Ginsberg said, ‘We should let it go and start over.’
This is where we are at with this. We believe in women, but we believe in the rights of all women, under all circumstances, under no deviation from that.”
Quoting former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg out of context was a regular thing for both Bottoms and DeGraaf. Bottoms then complained about woke culture, or something:
“We can’t even define what a woman is today. We call it ‘pregnant persons’ and things like that.”
We do? Okay.
Bottoms moved on to complain about the “right of a woman to compete in single-sex athletics” and the right of a mother to hold dominion over her female offspring:
“The right of a mother to refuse coerced medical treatment on her daughter and the right of a mother to speak up at school boards without the fear of reprisal are still being infringed TO…THIS…VERY…MOMENT.”
Bottoms would return to the podium on multiple occasions, eventually introducing an amendment to the ERA resolution to recognize the right of women to “live by moral beliefs”; to refuse abortion rights for their children (“coerce medical options”); to let them rant freely at school board meetings; and to prevent transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. Oh, and also the ERA should include unfettered rights to shoot people with firearms. Equal rights, baby!
Representatives DeGraaf and Stephanie Luck also chimed in with their own amendments in opposition to transgender people in general.
Perhaps not content to serve as bizarro-Robin to Rep. Bottoms’ disgusting Batman, DeGraaf upped the rhetoric to even more ridiculous levels. DeGraaf began with a history lesson straight out of one of former Rep. Lori Saine’s mysterious textbooks:
“The rights of women are, and have been, enshrined in our Constitution from the beginning,” said DeGraaf after reading the “All men are created equal” preamble from the Declaration of Independence. “Perhaps not always recognized, but they have been enshrined.”
DeGraaf explained that the Founding Fathers were only using the word “men” in a general sense…or something.
“The pronoun ‘he’ is a generic that all men are created equal. [It] is a generic. It means all men or women unless it is specifically known to be male. Well, a female has an individual, a specific pronoun that is, uh, that would be considered special.
“Abigail Adams was determined to foment a rebellion if the ladies were not more generously acknowledged in the new Constitution. She didn’t. There was no rebellion fomented. So it can only be naturally recognized that they were.”
This is “DeGraaf Logic” in action: Because women didn’t rebel at the time the Declaration of Independence was drafted, it must mean that women who lived in that time understood that they did indeed have equal rights already. You could make the same dumb argument about Black slaves, of course, but let’s move along…
“The first female representatives were Republicans, as were the first representatives who happened to be female. So I’d like to say to my Democrat colleagues, ‘Welcome.’”
At this, DeGraaf smirked and left the podium. You can thank Republicans for the equal rights that you already have…even though this entire discussion is about an Equal Rights Amendment that millions of women believe is still necessary. Got it!
In a failed effort to appear smarter than he actually is, DeGraaf returned to the podium later to read some ERA history from his iPad — including, again, numerous quotes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg — before firing off some big words that he may or may not actually understand:
“Well, recognizing that as a heterogametic human, that my colleagues don’t necessarily recognize my equal rights before the law in this matter.”
Here’s a Wikipedia entry on heterogametic and homogametic sex that may help you make sense of what DeGraaf thinks he’s talking about. Anyway, DeGraaf uses his big thesaurus brain to move from the ERA to abortion, naturally. He cites former Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York for comments she made in 2019 that he claims were false statements that the ERA is NOT about abortion.
“Me thinks that the Representative doth protest too much. The Equal Rights Amendment-abortion connection has already been established for more than 40 years when Maloney tried to deny it.”
Boy Wonderbread continues with his explanation that “Sex is represented as the difference between homogametic and heterogometic in an XY organism such as a human,” using this as a jumping off point for an amendment about…fetacide?
“In the June 22 decision Dobbs v Jackson, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion — actually feticide. This will no doubt intensify the search by feticide advocates for a constitutional alternatives. Despite denials that no one believes the groundwork has already been laid and all eyes are on the Equal Rights Amendment.
So again, in recognized recognition of the work and intellect of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I would request that you would recognize my equality before the law and speaking to this body as a heterogametic individual and vote yes on this amendment for the sake of historical accuracy.”
It is both disgusting and infuriating to watch House Republicans turn a discussion about the Equal Rights Amendment into an extended diatribe about abortion, guns, transgender athletes, and whatever the hell DeGraaf is talking about. But the real harm here is to Colorado Republicans in general.
The further Republicans sink into DeBottoms — and the more members of its historically-small caucus that follow along — the harder it becomes for Republicans to make a serious argument in 2024 that Colorado voters should put them in charge. Other Republicans, such as Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, can scream all they want about how there are “other perspectives” in the GOP’s “diverse caucus,” but nobody can hear them over the unhinged rhetoric of the rightest right-wing members in their tribe.