Many Democratic women attended the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) meeting last Thursday wearing yellow ribbons and hoping to lend their support to a Bylaws Amendment, proposed two weeks earlier, that would increase women's representation in the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party. Known as the AFDW amendment, this change would make the President of the Alabama Federation of Democratic Women an ex officio member of the SDEC Board. On Aug. 14 Vice Chair for Women's Affairs Nancy Worley first moved that the AFDW amendment be adopted then moved to table her own motion — which means to stop further action.
Last Thursday women attended in force to support a planned move to bring the amendment back to the floor. Former Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley made a special point to attend, also wearing a yellow ribbon, in hopes her presence might help move the party leaders to permit a vote on the issue. Her son, Louis Baxley, rose and attempted to bring the AFDW amendment to the floor. However, presiding officer Nancy Worley would have none of it and refused to recognize Baxley. She ignored more than one call for a point of order and instead asked for a motion to adjourn, ending the meeting.
I thought it was particularly tasteless to preface the meeting with congratulatory remarks about Women's Equality Day, then to give the worn out excuse of “we need to study this” as cover to avoid a vote on the issue. As I've said before, …
What makes this situation even worse is that in Alabama in 2008, 74.3% of eligible women registered to vote (Source: Table 4) compared to only 68.5% of men. Women outnumbered men by about 270,000 at the Alabama polls in November 2008 and voted for Democrats significantly more often than male voters. The state Democratic Party leadership ought to reflect the importance of that female influence it enjoys at the ballot box. Unfortunately, the Alabama Democratic Party, like most of state government, is male dominated.
There are currently eight officers of the Alabama Democratic Party. Only one, Vice Chair Nancy Worley, is female. And she both made the motion to adopt the Bylaw change and moved to table her own motion — isn't that a trip?
To continue with the numbers game, of the 34 positions on the Executive Board, which includes the officers, only 14 are held by women.
This is simply unacceptable behavior. I've heard some party leaders are concerned that this amendment would add “another woman” to the Board — what the hell is wrong with that? Women are the majority of Democratic voters, why don't we have adequate representation. Others are apparently concerned that this would add a member they have no control over — the AFDW President is elected by the membership. Again, what the hell is wrong with having an independent voice for Democratic women on the Board?
Major fail by the Democratic Party — the leadership, really — here.