A California state assemblywoman was forced to bring her newborn baby to the senate floor after being denied a proxy vote.
Buffy Wicks gave birth to her daughter, Elly, via C-section in July and requested a vote by proxy two weeks before the ballot due to concerns about coronavirus.
Her worry came after a Republican state senator and a California highway patrol officer, who had both entered the California state capitol, tested positive for coronavirus.
Due to the pandemic, the California Assembly established a proxy voting system for members at a high risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Ms Wicks, who represents residents in San Francisco, told The Guardian: “I asked again because my daughter doesn’t have an immune system.”
However, assembly speaker Anthony Rendon denied her request and determined that her circumstances did not make her applicable for remote voting.
Ms Wicks, currently on maternity leave, travelled more than an hour from her home in Oakland to Sacramento for the last legislative sitting with her daughter and debated legislation until midnight.
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Footage of Ms Wicks nursing her daughter while talking about a bill has been shared across social media, gaining support from prominent figures including Hilary Clinton.
California Assemblymember @buffywicks was told that having recently given birth wasn’t sufficient excuse to cast a vote remotely.
So she brought her newborn daughter to the floor to weigh in on an important housing bill. 💪https://t.co/elofHmIcxlpic.twitter.com/ZQf9F10qKE
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 1, 2020
Speaking at the senate, Ms Wicks said: “I was in the middle of feeding my daughter when this bill came up and I ran down on the floor today because I strongly believe we need to pass his bill.”
She finished by saying “please, please, please pass this bill, and I’m going to go finish feeding my daughter.”
An apology was issued by Mr Rendon on Tuesday, saying: “My intention was never to be inconsiderate toward her, her role as a legislator, or her role as a mother. I failed to make sure our process took into account the unique needs of our members. The assembly needs to do better.”
Ms Wicks accepted the apology, saying she hopes the incident highlights the need for an effective paid-leave policy for women in jobs that have fewer protections, and flexibility for politicians who are also new parents.
“Since this all went viral, I’ve had many mums reach out about having no childcare and going into the bathroom to cry because they’re so stressed,” she told The Guardian.
“My hope is to get rid of this misogynist racist in the White House, take back the Senate, and create better safety nets.”