Buffy Wicks, a California Assemblymember, wasn’t allowed to vote by proxy, so she voted in favor of housing bill SB 1120 with her one-month-old baby, Elly, in her arms. The image of Wicks with her baby has become an iconic, poignant image since it went viral over the past few days, as it speaks to the challenges that expectant and new mothers face in the workplace, in addition to the apparent lack of safety precautions in the California Assembly.
Wicks had asked to vote by proxy, but Anthony Rendon, the speaker of California’s State Assembly, which does not currently allow for remote voting, turned her request down, Politico reports. The Assembly previously ruled that members could only have a proxy vote on their behalf if they are considered to be at particularly high risk for adverse health outcomes if they contract COVID-19. Rendon didn’t consider Wicks to be particularly high-risk, so she was given the choice of voting in-person or not at all. So, while on the floor, she concluded a speech by saying, “Please, please, please pass this bill,” adding, “And I’m going to go finish feeding my daughter.” To show her support for the bill, Wicks had also tweeted, “Yep, I’m here! (And so is Elly)”
— Buffy Wicks (@BuffyWicks) August 31, 2020
While scientists are still studying the health outcomes for newborns who contract the coronavirus, experts know that newborns can get the disease and that women who have recently given birth might be facing health complications that could make them more at-risk for COVID-19. Mashable reports that Rendon later apologized to Wicks, writing, “Inclusivity and electing more women into politics are core elements of our Democratic values. Nevertheless, I failed to make sure our process took into account the unique needs of our Members. The Assembly needs to do better. I commit to doing better.”
Check out the powerful video below.
Absolutely devastated about #SB1120. Our housing crisis requires us to act, and tonight we failed to do that.
But I promise you this: I will *always* show up for housing — no matter what. pic.twitter.com/I4n6X07CNp
— Buffy Wicks (@BuffyWicks) September 1, 2020