CHEYENNE – With the nickname “the Equality State,” Wyoming has long been proud of its status as the first state to give women the right to vote and as the state with the first all-female governmental body, as occurred in Jackson Hole in the 1920s.
It was only natural for the first bill signing of Gov. Mark Gordon’s tenure to be one co-sponsored by all the women currently in the Legislature: a resolution recognizing Dec. 10, 2019, as Women’s Suffrage Day in Wyoming – the 150th anniversary of suffrage passing in the Wyoming Territory.
“In working on this resolution, I can say Wyoming’s history is so unique and so important,” said Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, the chief sponsor of the bill. “Nationally, I think we’re going to hear a lot about how suffrage passed 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment. But we were 50 years ahead of the ball, and that’s a history we should celebrate.”
Prior to signing the bill, Gordon read a clipping from an article in the Dec. 18, 1869, issue of the Wyoming Tribune noting the passage of the law, marking the historic significance of Wyoming’s status as the day’s leader on civil rights and the bill’s potential to pave the way for universal suffrage in the burgeoning United States.
“As a class, the women of America have a keener sense of right and wrong, and morally are superior to, and more conscientious than, the other sex,” Gordon read from the article. “May their civilizing influence be felt in the world of politics as it is in the recluse of the home.”
Gordon offered a personal touch to the ceremony, retelling a story told to his sister in 1972 by Gov. Cliff Hanson of a toast that was given that auspicious day in 1869.
“According to the story,” said Gordon, “the men all repaired to the bar, lifted their glass and proclaimed ‘here’s to women – first our superiors, now our equals.’”