The Vermont Republican Party is joining with the Vermont Women’s Coalition on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the right of women to vote in the United States.
The event, which will mark the historic passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, will take place at 10 a.m. Sept. 12 at the Vermont Statehouse.
“We have much to be proud of as a party for our history and the showing we have with women candidates in 2020, including women of color,” Deb Billado, state chair of the Vermont GOP, said in a statement. “From the very beginning the fight for women’s right to vote came out of and was intertwined with the abolitionist movement.”
The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848. By 1878, Republican Sen. Aaron A. Sargent introduced what eventually became the famous 19th Amendment, which finally passed in 1919 with a majority of Republican support from both chambers of Congress.
A hundred years on, dozens of women are running for state office in Vermont as Republicans. This includes two candidates for a statewide office, five state Senate candidates, and 27 House candidates.
Alice Flanders, an African-American running for the House in the Windsor 4-2 District, said Vermont has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to women’s rights and minority rights.
“Women have been at the forefront here in Vermont,” she said. “Nobody has been holding women back here. … Women in Vermont as far as I can see have enjoyed full freedom for many years and from the very beginning.”
She said the language in the Vermont Constitution, as it was originally written and passed in 1777, implies the equal rights of women from the start.
“The Constitution Hall in Windsor … you see that plaque that’s in front of the Constitution House, and you see way back on July 8 of 1777, when the Vermont Constitution was signed, that universal suffrage and no slavery was already a part of the Vermont State Constitution,” she said.
She also explained how Republicans throughout history have been at the forefront of freedom movements.
“When it came to the vote for any rights — women’s rights, black rights, gay, any rights you want — the party that has stood in the way of the progress has been the Democrat Party,” she said. “The Republicans have stood for equal access and rights, guaranteed by the Constitution. I would say that if people are really concerned about liberty and justice for all then they would probably do better on the Republican side.”
Carolyn Branagan is running for state treasurer as a Republican. She talked about the significance of the milestone.
“It hasn’t been that long,” she said. “And there’s still discrimination of women going on. I hear myself, you know, that women ought to be home with small children and not be out in the public workforce. That is so old-fashioned and an unfortunate way of thinking.”
Branagan also said some groups of women were not able to vote even after 1919. These included Native American women — they gained that right in 1967. She said the test for immigrant women was more difficult than the test for other women.
“Times were different and we should not take this right for granted, we should always exercise the right to vote,” she said. ” … It was something fought for for a long time and they did not just let it go and not be there to vote.”
She said she recently attended another celebrative event of this anniversary, a gathering of about 50 people on Church Street in Burlington.
“I was a speaker there, so was Kesha Ram, Molly Gray … people of all political persuasions, but it was not a political event,” she said.
Meg Hansen, the former director of Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom, is running for state Senate in Bennington County as a Republican. She has been an outspoken critic of cancel culture and Vermont’s One Care medical system.
Ericka Redic, of Burlington, is running for a state Senate seat in Chittenden County. Among other issues, she says Vermont needs to open up its economy again now that the threat of the coronavirus is understood and under control.