CLINTON, MD -- This afternoon, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) hosted his 15th annual Women's Equality Day Luncheon, with keynote speaker Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh. Below are his opening remarks as prepared for delivery.
“Good morning, and thank you for being here for the annual Fifth District Women’s Equality Luncheon. This year, we gather to mark not only the ninety-seventh anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, enshrining women’s suffrage into our Constitution, but also the forty-fifth anniversary of Title Nine.
“While the Nineteenth Amendment was instrumental in enabling women’s voices to be heard equally in our democratic institutions through their votes, Title Nine was a milestone in advancing women’s equality in education and society. From equal access to the classrooms of our schools and universities to equality in access to athletics, Title Nine makes it clear that women will never again be shut out and denied the opportunities everyone deserves.
“It is a testament to the power of Title Nine, in many ways, that today’s color guard from Thomas Stone High School is made up entirely of female students. These young women are pursuing their education as well as their involvement in the marching band and other extracurricular activities thanks to the doors opened for them and their predecessors by Title Nine.
“Last year, when we gathered for our annual luncheon, we had little foresight that we would be here in 2017 lamenting a deeply painful roadblock on the march of equality. We had just seen a woman nominated for the Presidency for the first time by one of the major parties. No matter who you supported last year, that fact was a major milestone for which all Americans should be proud.
“And after Donald Trump was inaugurated, we saw millions of Americans – led by women from across the country – stand up and march to demand that the work of equality not be hindered. We marched to demand that the promise of America not be denied to tens of millions of women, especially women of color and lesbian and trans-women. So as we gather here today, let us not focus on loss or a dream denied. It is not denied, only deferred.
“Let us see the greater strength that has been awakened in women and men across this country to defend the hard-won victories of equality and to march on. And as we march, whether in the streets, through our votes, or through our acts of civic participation here in our own communities, let us not forget what we are marching for. We march for equal pay for equal work. We march for quality, affordable health care for all, including contraceptive coverage. We march for women’s choices when it comes to their own bodies. We march for jobs and opportunities that do not discriminate. We march for immigrant women not to be split from their families or be too afraid of deportation to seek help from law enforcement when they need it most. We march for the women in our armed forces to have a fair chance to risk their lives in defense of our country. And we march for trans-women to serve openly and to live free from fear in our society.
“Yet, ninety-seven years after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment and more than fifty years after Selma, we also march once more for every American’s equal right to vote. President Trump and his allies in Congress have accelerated an all-out assault on voting rights in this country. We must not allow eligible voters to be turned away at the polls simply because they are women or people of color or can’t afford a certain form of identification. The right to vote, as the women of Seneca Falls understood well, is the foundation of our citizenship. It is what gives every American his or her public voice.
“So as we join today in celebration of the past, let us not forget that we are here just as much for the present and the future. That’s why I’m going to continue to work hard to recruit and elect talented women to Congress and make sure women have opportunities to lead at every level in our state and our country."