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Wednesday
Jan102018

Pelosi, other female Democrats to wear black to Trump's State of the Union address

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A group of female House Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., plan to wear black for President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address later this month, in an anti-harassment demonstration to show solidarity for victims of sexual harassment and misconduct.

The show of support echoes actresses who wore black to last Sunday's Golden Globes to support the Me Too and Time's Up movements.

NBC News was first to report Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., was calling for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to dress in black. President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30.

The movement is being championed by the Democratic Women's Working Group, which includes all female Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

“We are supporting the brave women in every industry and every corner of the country who are making their voices heard,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We are at a watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment and discrimination, and we must continue to keep up the drumbeat of action for real change.”

The effort is being led by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., the chair of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, and has been in the works for weeks. Other leaders of the group, including Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., also plan to participate.

Democratic women led by Frankel wore white at Trump’s first joint address to Congress last February, a nod to the women’s suffrage movement and rebuke of the Trump administration.

Like Hollywood, Capitol Hill and Washington continue to grapple with issues of sexual harassment and misconduct. The House, following the resignation of several members accused of sexual misconduct, is expected to take up new legislation to reform the workplace harassment complaint process and anti-harassment training process in the coming weeks.

The vast majority of women attending Sunday's Golden Globes wore black as a statement against sexual misconduct allegations which swept Hollywood in the wake of revelations about ex-movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"This is just the beginning," said actress Rachel Brosnahan, who won a Golden Globe for the Amazon series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," of the Time's Up campaign. "Part of the Time's Up campaign is that they've created a legal defense fund. ... This is only the beginning of the conversation that's being turned into action."

The movement quickly spread across all industries, including politics. A number of prominent politicians have resigned or retired in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations.

Former Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., stepped down in December after multiple women alleged sexual misconduct by the politician. Franken has apologized for some of his conduct, though he said other allegations "were simply untrue" in his Dec. 7 resignation speech from the floor of the Senate.

Former Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., announced days before Franken that he would be retiring after facing allegations as well. Conyers denied the allegations, and said he would retire "to preserve my legacy and good name." Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, announced he would not run for re-election after his current term after news broke the congressman had paid $84,000 to settle a sexual harassment case against him.

Farenthold said that previous allegations of sexual harassment made against him were "false," but acknowledged he had "angry outbursts" and that he failed "to treat people in his office with the respect they deserve."

Speier, as recently as Tuesday, tweeted about the settlement, saying Farenthold should keep his promise to pay that money back.

Trump has his own history of sexual misconduct allegations. More than a dozen women accused the president of sexual harassment and assault in the years before he was president. Trump and the White House have denied the allegations.

In December, over 100 congressional Democrats called on the House Oversight Committee to investigate allegations against Trump. House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said his committee "does not, and cannot, prosecute crimes," and deferred to law enforcement personnel to handle the women's claims.



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