Congressmember Jackie Speier will retire this year after 18 years in Congress, a U.S. representative who has been a shining example of a political force in the political pipeline. Speier has been a strong and ardent voice for Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights, and for passage of the ERA, most recently introducing with Congressmember Carolyn Maloney a resolution recognizing the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28th Amendment to the Constitution. “Women in America have continued to be victims of insidious discrimination and the Constitution has been an apologist for the bad behavior,” she proclaimed at the time.
On March 4, 2022, Congressmember Speier will be the honored guest of the past presidents of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee and the keynote speaker for the committee’s Women’s History Month lunch.
From her time on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to her years in Congress, Speier has demonstrated the impact women can have in public office, as she rose through the various levels of government. For the Women’s Political Committee, the goal has been to elect women to office in equal numbers and to pass legislation that will effect social change. Speier embodies those values and has been successful in advocating for a feminist agenda.
Speier began her elective career serving two terms on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, then moved to the State Legislature, spending 18 years in the State Assembly and the State Senate. Her successful record of state legislation included bills affecting children, consumer services, domestic violence, education, health care, and reproductive rights.
Speier’s state career was followed by nine terms in Congress representing the 14th Congressional District in Northern California. She is a member on the Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; and is co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, the Congressional Armenian Caucus, the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, and the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
An example of her work is her commitment to ending sexual assault. On February 12, 2022, Congresswoman Speier announced that Congress had “delivered a resounding victory this week for the #MeToo movement and over 60 million American workers with the passage of the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act. This bipartisan, bicameral bill will allow sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors to elect to file a case in a court of law rather than be subject to mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration provision in disputed cases.” This long-fought effort is a victory for Speier as well as all Americans.
Jackie Speier has shown that women make a difference for women when in office. Speier has stood up to fight the political war against women that still exists. In 2011, Speier gave a memorable and courageous speech on the House floor challenging the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood by sharing her personal experience of having an abortion.
Regarding advancing the ERA into law, Speier said, “When 85 percent of United Nations member countries have placed the ERA in their constitutions, it’s more than time that we do the same. Until the ERA is recognized, we will not be able to address the gender wage gap, pregnancy discrimination, persistent and disturbing violations of the rights of survivors, and more.”
Many challenges remain before women gain gender equality. In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner on November 19, Speier said she’s not done yet. “I still have a voice, and I intend to use it.” We can only imagine what the future will bring for Congressmember Speier and how we will benefit.
Please join us on March 4th as we welcome Jackie Speier back to Santa Barbara and celebrate her years as a legislator. The annual lunch has been held for 21 years with the stated purpose to enhance community knowledge of women and politics and develop supporters for the S.B. Women’s Political Committee. To register for the event go to sbwpc.org.
Susan Rose served for eight years on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and is the former executive director of the Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women. She is a founding member of the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.