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A rainbow coalition of House women extols Obama's support

September 04, 2012|By Robin Abcarian
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi and a group of Democratic women address the convention.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi and a group of Democratic women address the convention. (Tannen Maury / European…)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If there was any doubt about whom Democrats are aiming at during their convention, one had only to see the portion of the program Tuesday night where two dozen women who are either in Congress or seeking to be appeared together onstage.

Wearing colorful suits and dresses, they looked like a sartorial version of the rainbow coalition as they clustered around the microphone. Eight spoke briefly about progress made under President Obama in areas such as fair pay, healthcare, domestic violence and help for military families, and about the challenges still facing American women.

Mostly, they were there to connect.

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“I’m Nancy Pelosi, but my grandchildren call me Mimi,” said the former House speaker. “For me, politics is an extension of my role as a mother and grandmother. For the Democratic women of the House, our work is not about the next election, but rather the next generation.”

Democratic congressional nominee Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a combat veteran who is a captain in the Army National Guard, spoke of the travails of women in wartime.

“I know the cost of war,” Gabbard said. “The sacrifices made by our troops and military families are immeasurable. These days, it's often women in uniform — moms, wives, even grandmothers — who deploy and leave their families behind. Such heroes and patriots need and deserve leaders who truly understand and care about their hardships and will fight for them — leaders like President and Michelle Obama, and Vice President and Dr. Biden — the strongest advocates military families could have.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut reminded viewers that the very first bill Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, aimed at giving victims of pay discrimination the opportunity to file lawsuits against employers. “America's women still make just seventy-seven cents for every dollar men earn,” DeLauro said. “It's even tougher for women of color.”

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Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York offered a common Democratic refrain, that thanks to the Affordable Care Act, “Soon, for the very first time, no longer will being a woman be a preexisting medical condition!”

Health insurers, she said, are now required to provide women with “the preventive services that they deserve — including birth control.”

Maloney reprised a line she used in February, when Republicans on a House committee refused to allow law student Sandra Fluke to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s position that contraception should be provided free to women by health insurers.

“I asked, 'Where are the women? Where are the women?'… We’re here! Now the women of America are here. And we are on our way to reelect our president.”

(Fluke is here as well; she will address the convention Wednesday.)

Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore, a mother of three and grandmother of three, said Republicans opposed Democratic efforts to strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Alluding to a failed effort by House Republicans to change a definition in a law that bans federal funding for abortion, she said, “They have even tried to change the definition of rape.”

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