Western Montana Man Proposes Legislative Gender Equity
A western Montana man is proposing a constitutional amendment that would require the state legislature to have an equal number of men and women.
John Marshall of Hot Springs, Montana submitted his legislative gender equity proposal to the Secretary of State's Office last week. He says having the same number of men and women in the state legislature would create a stronger democracy and generate more comprehensive solutions.
“Women are now the majority of the population. They are now the majority of the workforce. So by happenstance, by destiny, by default, call it what you will, they're the rightful heirs to the reigns of political power in this country."
Marshall cites U.S. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, as examples of lawmakers who said the recent government shutdown would not have ended without the work of female senators.
Republican Representative Steve Gibson of East Helena says he has no issues with whether there are more or less women in the Montana Legislature, but he's not sure if the proposal will work.
"There might be some constitutional issues with this recommendation. I don't know how you would actually do it. It's up to the voters, but I think the voters vote for who they want to represent them."
Democratic Senator Mary Caferro of Helena is not disclosing her opinion on the matter just yet. But she's eager to see what Montana voters think.
"I'm not gonna shoot down the idea. I know the semantics are probably complicated and challenging. But what the heck? Why not? Why not have it on the ballot and have the discussion."
The proposal still must pass review by the Montana Attorney General's Office and the Montana Legal Services Division. If the language is approved , Marshall would need to gather 48,000 signatures of registered voters to get the proposal on the 2014 ballot.
Story by Charlie Misra, Beartooth NBC.
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