Subscribe

Get the best of Newspaper delivered to your inbox daily

Most Viewed

‘Your best is always good enough’: Rep Jessica Gonzalez honored with Woman of the Year

Jessica Gonzalez is one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year, a recognition of women making a significant impact across the country. The annual event is a continuation of Women of the Century, a 2020 project celebrating the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote. Meet this year’s honorees at womenoftheyear.usatoday.com.

When a bill that would ban drive-thru voting, change voting by mail rules and make other procedural changes to Texas election law first came on the floor of the House during the 2021 legislative session, State Representative Jessica Gonzalez said Saw a long start. kill it.

He offered an amendment to strike at the language needed to allow the bill to become law. It was a courageous move for a Democrat to run for a second term in a legislature that has been dominated by Republicans for nearly 20 straight years. No one expected to see the action on the floor of the House, including Gonzalez, or watching the action from the gallery above.

When the House Elections Committee voted on the measure, Gonzalez, the panel’s vice chairman, sought to offer several amendments, but was stoked by the speaker. “It’s bull-,” she said in a courtesy breach that soon turned into a viral video.

The bill was the same law that would prompt an extended walkout by most Democrats in the Texas House in the summer of 2021. His trip to Washington, D.C., to vainly lobby Congress to pass a federal law to thwart planned changes in Texas’ election process, would paralyze the Legislature for 38 days.

Gonzalez’s often blunt and charge-forward style in the rapidly deteriorating Texas Legislature earned him Texas Monthly’s “Bull of the Brazos” award, given after each session to a lawmaker who differs specifics on those issues. What matters most to them, regardless of political price. For the first time a woman has received this honor. Gonzalez, who represents part of Dallas, was also given Matt Garcia Public Service Award From the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Her work to protect voting rights and LBGTQ+ and other marginalized communities has earned Gonzalez recognized as one of USA TODAY’s Women of the Year. Gonzalez, a lawyer by profession who was born on Christmas Day 1980, agreed to discuss his career and his approach to politics.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Texas State Representative Jessica Gonzalez, D-Dallas, Poses For A Portrait At Her Home In Dallas, Texas, Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Texas State Representative Jessica Gonzalez, D-Dallas, poses for a portrait at her home in Dallas, Texas, Thursday, March 3, 2022.
Linda M. Gonzalez for American-Statesman
Which Is Your Proudest Moment?  And Do You Have The Least?

As deputy chairman of the House Committee on Elections, I led efforts to prevent voter suppression legislation from becoming law in our state. I am particularly proud that, as a minority party in Texas, we have used every tool at our disposal to deter continued attacks on our voting rights—including breaking the quorum three separate times.

The Texas Democrats drew national attention to an unprecedented attack on our democracy and successfully exposed false rhetoric about voter fraud that Republicans pursue in their attempt to stay in power, not only in Texas but across the country.

I am equally proud of the work that many of us did to stop more than 75 LGBTQ+ bills from becoming law over a period of four consecutive legislative sessions in 2021. Unfortunately, Republicans were successful in passing legislation that discriminates against transgender youth. play game.

I wasn’t afraid to use my legal expertise or be outspoken when needed. As a result, I was silenced and insulted for doing my job. I also received hateful and murderous mails and phone calls.

So, if I had to point to a time where I felt the least, this would be it.

However, I have learned in my short time in the Legislature that it is easier to fall in line. But these offices belong to the people of Texas, and they expect you to do what is hard because being a leader is hard. This means flapping wings, punching and sometimes standing alone.

What Are Some Lessons Learned As An Openly Gay Member Of The Legislature?

I am proud to be the first openly lesbian Latina woman from North Texas elected to the Texas Legislature. I am a founding member and vice president of the First Texas House LGBTQ+ Caucus and work with five other LGBTQ+ female members of the Texas House.

I’ve found it hard to hate up close. When I talk with my fellow elected officials in the Texas House or the Texas Capitol and look them in the eye to talk about my family and how this law will affect my life, most of my colleagues don’t want me. discriminate against and do not want to vote on discriminatory legislation. But, since Donald Trump and national hate groups have decided to target innocent transgender children as part of a national strategy, like voter suppression bills across the country, Texas is going to be our children, our parents, our elders, Has become a dangerous place for our disabled. , our women, our people of color, our Jewish friends, our Muslim friends – anyone who is “other”.

We are in a dangerous phase in politics today. When a party has resorted to targeting innocent children, their parents, their doctors and life-saving medical care, politics has gone too far and is unconscious.

Jessica Gonzalezzo
I’ve found it hard to hate up close. When I talk with my fellow elected officials in the Texas House or the Texas Capitol and look them in the eye to talk about my family and how this law will affect my life, most of my colleagues don’t want me. discriminate against and do not want to vote on discriminatory legislation.

What Has Been Your Driving Force In Reducing Discrimination In Texas?

Our fight for equality is not near the end. As an LGBTQ+ woman of color, I know what discrimination looks like; My constituents are 85% non-white. People who look like me are the target in Texas.

I remember being a high school student in Texas. I was singled out by friends and bullied for expressing only my true self. I’ll never forget to realize that I didn’t belong, that my differences with my classmates were exposed. What affected me is a feeling I don’t want any Texas kid to feel.

I will continue to lead, and we will not stop fighting until we achieve complete equality for every single child and every single Texan.

published

Updates

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Thanks for submitting your comment!

    Subscribe

    Get the best of Newspaper delivered to your inbox daily

    Most Viewed

    Related Stories