Press Releases

Hoyer Remarks at 20th Annual Women's Equality Day Luncheon 

Congressman Hoyer hugs Rep. Lucy McBath at the 20th Annual Women's Equality Luncheon

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2022
Contact: Maya Valentine, (301) 464-5710

COLLEGE PARK, MD - This afternoon, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) delivered remarks at his 20th Annual Women's Equality Day Luncheon, which drew hundreds of women across Maryland's Fifth Congressional District. Below are excerpts of his remarks: 

"Welcome back! My, my, my I’m glad to be back in person. Lucy McBath, welcome. Welcome to Prince George’s County, and welcome to Maryland.” 

“You're going to be in for a treat hearing Lucy McBath, hearing her story of courage and of her leadership. Chair Yvette Lewis, Chair of the [Maryland] Democratic [Party]. Chair Lewis is a leader in our country and in our party, and she's done an extraordinary job here in Maryland. Thank you very much, Yvette Lewis. Lieutenant Governor Miller. Doesn’t that have a great sound to it: Lieutenant Governor Miller. Vice President Harris. Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Both one and two next in line to be the President.”

“Now some of you know I got in the Governor's race to endorse Wes Moore. And the reason I did that, you will now recognize and give a big hand to the next First Lady of our state...Brooke Lierman is not here, but she's going to join us virtually… our the next Comptroller of our state, Brooke Lierman. Aisha Braveboy, thank you so much for being with us one more time. Aisha was with us the last time we were here in person. Thank you very much for being with us…” 

“Karen extraordinary young woman...You're going to see her in a few minutes. Members of the committee, I want you to stand up, Sue Apple, Marie Duffield, Lavita Gardner, [Delegate] Rachel Jones, Lisa Ransom, [and Betty Richardson] - just a brief history, Women's Equality Day. There's a Women's History Month as you know, there's Black History Month - and Women's Equality Day recognizes a very special day in the history of our country. On August 26, 1920, the Equal Rights Amendment was ratified by Tennessee, the last state to ratify it. And the last person who decided to vote for it was 25 years of age of the Tennessee legislature.” 

“And the history books tell us the reason he decided [not] to vote ‘no’ is because mom called him up. Mom called him up and said, you know, I think you'd [should] vote for this. So, he voted for it and Tennessee became the 36th state [to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment], but it was not signed until the 27th. That was passed on the 20th of the month, but it wasn't signed by the Secretary of State of the United States until the 26th. And so, we celebrate the 26th, and the 23rd, which is today [is] between the day it was passed and the day it was signed. Seneca Falls, all of you know Seneca Falls. [In the] 19th century, women came together at a Declaration of Sentiments. And what that Declaration of Sentiments – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and all women are created equal and endowed by their Creator.’ But you know, we say these rights are self-evident. But what I tell people about self-evident rights is that that they are not self-executing.”

“It is up to us to make those words on paper, whether it's a Constitution or law or regulation or rule. It's up to us to make them a reality to accomplish the objectives that the verbiage was intended to do.”

“It is never too late to do the right thing. I'm so excited. As I said earlier to be here with all of you in person. Last year we were honored to have Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms - Lucy is clapping, she too is from the state of Georgia. That was a virtual program. But there's nothing quite like being together in person to celebrate women's equality and women's rights. A reporter asked me -  how did you get into this? I said I have three daughters. Two of my three grandchildren are women. Three of my four great-grandchildren are women. If weren’t for women’s rights…”

 “As I said, our special speaker is also from Georgia just as the Mayor was, and I can't wait to introduce her. First, though, I want to talk about what makes this year's equality luncheon different of those we've had in the past. This year for the first time we are gathering to celebrate women's equality at a time when women in our country have fewer rights, hear me, fewer rights than they had when we first had this luncheon 20 years ago. The Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in June by the Supreme Court’s extremist majority was undoubtedly a setback for women's equality and justice in our country. And one of the few times in the history of the Supreme Court really backed up from rights that had been extended through the years.” 

“As a result of the deeply misguided and dangerous decision, women in many states in America no longer have the right to make the most fundamental decisions about their own bodies and their own lives. And we're hearing some very tragic stories. Instead, that decision is being made for them by politicians, mostly, not exclusively, men. Unlike the years past, we needed a moment, but it seems like the margin for women's equality has not only been altered but pushed back. I know that many of you are angry and upset and concerned about that, as am I. I believe, however, that the overturning of Roe v. Wade will backfire. It will backfire. But if it is to be backfired it will be up to us. Already, as a result of that ruling women and their allies across America are organizing, taking action, and driving efforts to enshrine reproductive choice and state constitutions and laws. I'm proud that here in Maryland, Speaker Adrienne Jones…[Senate President Bill] Ferguson, and the Maryland legislature has stood up for women's rights here in this state…But we are not alone. Therefore, we must fight for those states who have not done that. The majority in Annapolis is working to add the right explicitly to our state constitution.”

“I am proud that nothing changed for men and women in Maryland on the day that Roe was overturned. But in a sense, things did change. The challenge changed. The risks changed. I'm proud that so many men and women are helping to lead the charge nationally to turn our anger and frustrations into action and positive change. In Congress, Democrats took swift action after Dobbs, by passing the Women's Health Protection Act. Again, we passed an earlier version of that bill last year, which would put the 1973 Roe decision into federal status. Lucy and I are going to be fighting until that gets done to ensure that women all across America could once again have reproductive choice no matter where they live. I was proud to bring that bill to the Floor. I was proud that the House of Representatives passed it. I was proud that Lucy and I had the opportunity to vote for it, as did our Democrats. It has not passed the Senate. Sadly, we need to do better all around this country to make that happen. We can't do more than we've done in Maryland, because we have two supporters of reproductive rights in the United States Senate from our state, but we need help in other places. Of course, Republicans in Congress continue to oppose these efforts, which is why Democrats need to remain in control of the House and Senate. Speaker, Lucy Mcbath and others joined me in that vote, as I said. [Lucy McBath’s] home state of Georgia banned abortion outright after just six weeks of pregnancy.”

“The Dobbs ruling made it extraordinarily difficult for women to seek care when they're needed without traveling out of state. Representative McBath and I also passed, along with our Democratic colleagues, legislation ensuring that women's rights - the Reproductive Freedom Act -  would protect Americans' freedom to travel across state lines to seek medical services for themselves at their choosing…We need to secure democratic majorities in Washington that are as robust as those we have in Annapolis if we're going to be able to achieve the important victory for American women. This is not about politics in a partisan sense. This is about politics, and what kind of a community what kind of country we're going to have, and what kind of freedoms. What kind of respect are we going to have?”

“Of course, reproductive choice isn’t the only issue important to women, here in Maryland and across the country bread and butter economic issues related to public safety and justice, Democrats are working to deliver results, led by our diverse Caucus made up of more women than almost any time in our history…We have so many talented and outstanding women running this year and we can break the record of the 117th and 116th and I think we will.”

“So, as we celebrate Women's Equality Day, let us continue this work on making sure that women's voices and women's leadership can carry our democracy forward in the months and the years ahead. Democracy is the premise that we make decisions collectively better than we make them individually. And to have shut out during the course of our history, large portions of our population, either because of the color of their skin or the gender that they have, to make voting more difficult is anti-democratic. We ought to be facilitating the vote not impeding [it].” 

“So I welcome all of you here…”