The history of American democracy, to say the least, has been checkered. Our nation was founded at a time when people of African descent were held in bondage. After slavery was abolished, they were forced to endure legal discrimination for another 100 years.
When our country was formed, women were not just second-class citizens. They were third- or fourth-class citizens. Women couldn't vote or play a significant role in the political life of the nation. Women, in many cases, couldn't own property and were legally regarded as subservient in marriage. The educational and economic opportunities open to women were extremely limited. And, of course, women were unable to have control over their own bodies.
In the last 50 years, as the result of an enormous amount of effort on the part of the women's movement and its male allies, we as a nation have made significant progress in the fight for gender equality. Clearly, much, much more needs to be done, but few would deny that our country has come a very long way in this struggle. In Vermont, Governor Madeleine Kunin has given years of service to our state after becoming the state's first female governor in 1985. She is an inspiration to girls throughout Vermont and the country in allowing them to know that the opportunities they have are unlimited.
At rallies in Vermont and across the country this weekend, our message was clear. We are not going back. Not only are we not going to retreat on women's rights, we are going to expand them. We are going forward, not backward.
Finally, let understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win. When straight and gay people stand together for justice, we win. When young and old stand together for justice, we win. When working families stand together, we win.
Vermont is a national leader in the fight for a new health care system, for the transformation of our energy system, and in support of family farming and organic agriculture. We were the first state in the country to pass a civil union law and the first state to pass gay marriage legislation without a court order.
Now, we must continue and expand our efforts to be national leaders in the fight for gender equality.
I have seven beautiful grandchildren, four of whom are girls. Let us all work together in making sure that those four girls, and every girl in our state and country, has the same opportunity as anyone else to fulfill their dreams and live their lives without gender discrimination of any kind.
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Rule #1. It is not okay to imply that a contender is a c***
Rule #2. It is okay to imply that an opponent is a racist.
Am I beginning to understand the lay of the land around here?