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Barrasso and Cheney Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Wyoming Women's Right to Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the Senate floor to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Wyoming women’s right to vote. Women’s suffrage in Wyoming played a significant role in advancing women’s equality in the rest of the United States.

Excerpts of Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“I come to the floor today as we celebrate, today in Wyoming, the 150th anniversary of Wyoming women’s right to vote. 150 years.

“Before we even became a state, women were voting in Wyoming.

“And today at our State Capitol, a building in Cheyenne, there is a huge celebration of people from around the state and around the country celebrating this historic day.

“Many people watching today may not know this history, what happened 150 years ago. Yesterday afternoon, Senator Enzi spoke on the Senate floor and outlined some of that history.

“I am so proud of my home state’s amazing record in advancing this entire issue and concern and allowance of women voting.

“Women in Wyoming were the first in the nation to use the right to vote.

“That’s a fact.

“Wyoming women have been voting for 150 years.

“December 10, 1869, Wyoming took a giant leap forward for women’s equality. We are called the ‘Equality State.’ This is the reason why.

“So Wyoming’s Governor, Mark Gordon, in a ceremony this morning at our State Capitol in Cheyenne is proclaiming today ‘Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day.’ Wyoming was the first place in the country to pass a law securing women’s rights to vote as well as the right not just to vote but to hold public office.

“The people of Wyoming spoke loud and clear 150 years ago, today.

“We stood with women 50 years ahead of the rest of the nation.

“Wyoming was a territory back then. Our state hadn’t yet joined the Union, that didn’t happen till 1890.

“Still, that’s when we earned the proud name of the ‘Equality State.’ Wyoming earned far more than the name.

“By leading the fight for women’s rights, Wyoming has forever earned a hallowed place in the books of history.

“Nobody embodies the legacy more than Wyoming’s Louisa Ann Swain. On September 6, 1870, Louisa Swain, of Laramie, Wyoming, became the first woman in the United States to vote in a general election.

“By casting her historic ballot, she claimed a great victory for women everywhere. It’s a tremendous heritage that we celebrate today.

“Wyoming truly is the nation’s trailblazer for women’s equality.

“In fact, ‘Equal Rights’ is our state motto.

“On November 19, the Senate unanimously passed the Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day resolution.

“Senator Enzi and I co-sponsored the resolution to commemorate today’s 150th anniversary.

“So now the entire nation can join in celebrating Wyoming’s ground-breaking law.

“Twenty years after the law’s passage, Wyoming refused to enter the Union as a state unless we had equal voting rights, men and women. Big fight about it in Wyoming and in the nation’s capitol.

“When standing on principle became a major sticking point, Wyoming stuck to its guns on women’s equality. And actually ended up delaying becoming a state over this very issue.

“On March 26 of 1890, Wyoming statehood legislation narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The measure passed the Senate a few months later. But part of the debate, on the floor of the House of Representatives, had to do with Wyoming and women actually voting in our then territory, and now state.

“President Benjamin Harrison signed Wyoming statehood into law on July 10, 1890, upholding women’s rights.

“Wyoming is technically the 44th state to enter the Union. But Wyoming really is the first state when it comes to women’s equality. Wyoming put women first, even before statehood.

“Back home, 2019 is the ‘Year of Wyoming Women.’

“Our state is paying tribute to our strong women leaders.

“We had the great honor of electing the first woman governor, Wyoming’s 14th governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross.

“Wyoming boasts many more female firsts.

“These include the first woman to serve on a jury and the first female justice of the peace, Esther Hobart Morris.

“Wyoming also claims the first all-female city government.

“These pioneering women leaders were elected in 1920, in Jackson, Wyoming. The Jackson press dubbed them ‘the petticoat government.’

“So we celebrate 150 years of equal rights in Wyoming and 100 years for women nationwide.

“In 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women’s suffrage.

“This hard-fought legislative victory would ensure women’s full participation in our democracy.

“To mark this 100th anniversary, President Trump recently signed into law the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.

“I had the privilege of co-sponsoring this legislation, it was introduced by Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate.

“I made sure that Wyoming’s Esther Hobart Morris was among the suffragettes honored in this legislation.

“All Americans owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the nation’s extraordinary women leaders, of the past, as well as the present.

“And so today, as we pause to remember where it all started 150 years ago: in the trailblazing state of Wyoming, the Equality State.”

Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney also spoke earlier today on the commemoration of 150 years of women's suffrage in Wyoming.

"I know you are all here to commemorate the 150th anniversary of women having the right to vote in the state of Wyoming, December 10, 1869. The first place anywhere in the United States that women had the right to vote and run for office. Our territorial legislature passed the Act on this day 150 years ago and in 1890, when Wyoming was seeking statehood, members of the Senate were outraged, they said Wyoming could not join the Union unless they rescinded suffrage for women. Our legislature famously cabled back to D.C. and said, 'We are not coming in without our women.' Wyoming is very proud of our trailblazing heritage. I am tremendously proud and honored to represent Wyoming in Congress, and very grateful that you all could join us this morning to help commemorate."