The Women Lawyers Association of Michigan has taken a stand in the controversy that has erupted in Michigan in the past week after state representatives Barbara Byrum and Lisa Brown were denied the right to speak on the last day the state House of Representatives met in June before their summer break. The two were being censured for what the Republican leadership called "a lack of decorum" for comments they made that included the words "vagina" and "vasectomy" during a debate on legislation concerning abortion (see previous SBM Blog post Reference to 'Vagina,' Vasectomy' Earns Two State Reps a Day of Silence.)
In response to this action, WLAM, which has 650 members who are both men and women, pro-choice and pro-life, Democrat and Republican, issued a statement that says the group is not taking a position on the bills in question, but is standing in unison to condemn the removal of the two state representative's free speech rights.
"Representatives Brown and Byrum had a right to have their constituents' 150,000 voices recognized on June 14, 2012," the statement reads. "They were neither vulgar nor disrespectful. ...When the minority is silenced, justice cannot prevail and democracy suffers."
WLAM urged an apology from House Speaker Jase Bulger for his disregard of the constitutional rights to free speech of Michigan's citizens, and urged him to promise never again to use the House's decorum rules as an excuse to suppress protected speech.
Posted by Samantha Meinke