Anyone who thinks it’s strange that hundreds of people will gather in four Wyoming cities Jan. 21 to march for women’s rights just hasn’t been paying attention.
At all. For at least the past two years.
Wyoming voters gave Donald Trump the highest percentage rate of support of any state in the nation. About seven of every 10 votes in the “Equality State” went to the misogynist billionaire, while Hillary Clinton, who was poised to become the country’s first female president, garnered a meager 22.5 percent.
Based on those figures alone, many voters were blinded by the desire for political change at any cost, no matter the consequences. The only thing we have to fear is not fear itself, but the fact not nearly enough Wyomingites fear what could happen in a Trump administration.
I hope the Women’s March on Wyoming and the main event in the nation’s capital will open many eyes about the threat that Trump poses not only to women’s rights but to the lives and well-being of immigrants, minorities, non-Christians, the LGBT population, the disabled and any other category of human beings the president-elect joyfully denigrated during his campaign.
No one knows how many Wyoming residents will participate in the Women’s March on Washington, also on Saturday, Jan. 21, but I hope many will join the marches in Cheyenne, Casper, Laramie and Cody. There’s strength in numbers, and a large turnout in Wyoming would show the nation that even in the heart of Trump country there are plenty of people concerned about our diverse country’s future under his leadership.
All of the women’s marches are billed as bipartisan events, but in reality it’s likely no one would be protesting in huge numbers if Trump wasn’t headed to the White House.
The Women’s March on Wyoming was created by residents appalled at Trump’s election, not only for the abuse he might inflict on different segments of society but the fact that he daily showed his lack of character before the election and still won.
“We see the need to assert the rights of not just women, but also all members of our diverse communities,” said Jane Ifland, coordinator of the Casper march. “The strength of our nation lies in our diversity, and defending the dignity and equality of all our people is defending America’s highest ideals.”
In addition to the march, the Casper event will feature several discussion and training groups as well as a volunteer fair providing information on organizations concerned with a variety of social justice and women’s issues.
During the course of Trump’s campaign he made it clear he wants to see the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that recognized women’s right to a safe, legal abortion. He said he will make opposition to Roe v. Wade a litmus test for anyone he will consider appointing to the highest court in the land.
That doesn’t square with a statement he made in 1999 in support of abortion rights, but no one in the world should now expect Trump to be consistent on any issue. He told a town hall meeting last year that women who seek an abortion should be “punished” and sent to jail. The president-elect also said he sees nothing wrong in making pregnant women move to another state that allows abortions.
Sara Burlingame of Cheyenne said the march isn’t an anti-Trump rally. “It’s a march of unity and resilience,” she said. “Wyoming women are strong, but we know our values are not being represented in Washington, D.C., with our new president and his administration, and even in our own state government.”
Wyoming women face the widest gender wage gap in the nation, she said, and a barrage of assaults on a woman’s right to abortion and to make informed decisions of their health.
“The state Legislature continues to fail us year after year,” Burlingame said.
Ifland said she and the other march coordinators wanted to make it possible for women and others threatened by the proposals of the new administration to demonstrate their commitment to American values without having to travel to Washington.
No previous president has posed such a threat to women and ethnic and religious minorities. But it’s not only his outrageous, discriminatory policies that make him dangerous.
His baffling support of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin calls into question how Trump will treat our allies in NATO and his degree of willingness to engage in war. So far he’s split his pre-inaugural time between practicing to be Putin’s pawn and forming a Cabinet with an atrocious collection of right-wing elitists with deep connections to Wall Street and many questionable skills to lead their departments.
With so much to fear, though, it’s more important than ever that Americans of all political philosophies find some common ground and unite to find ways to protect the equality of all people. Our nation is divided; we need to further the civil rights gains we’ve made in the past half-century, not abandon them.
No matter how one feels about Trump and his effort to “Make America Great Again,” citizens throughout the country should be able to agree on issues like gender pay equity. How much longer will we have to climb to the economic mountaintop before we realize the American dream of equal pay for equal work?
Many people are overjoyed by the prospect of Trump in charge, while others will never get over the fact Clinton isn’t back living in the White House.
I’d like to see as many women and men as possible march on Jan. 21 so the flood of Trump supporters throughout Wyoming will realize that not everyone shares their enthusiasm. However, I’ve talked to many progressives over the past few years who have told me they don’t like to discuss their political beliefs with their relatives, neighbors and co-workers who are staunchly conservative.
It’s time for marching in the streets. We don’t have to constantly fight with political opponents, but progressives in Wyoming must show we’re committed to the value of celebrating our diversity, not hiding from it.