Texas U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert, who represents the first district of Tyler, Longview, and Nacadoches, had an interesting rationale for not supporting two bills, HR4742 and HR4755: Women shouldn’t be encouraged to go into science. Both bills are designed to promote more opportunities for female scientists in the commercial market.
HR4742 (Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act) was introduced by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT), U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and is designed to increase federal funds to programs that promote women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) within the commercial free market.
‘The STEM fields play an increasingly important role in the U.S. economy, but women are still underrepresented in most STEM sectors,’ Esty said in a prepared statement.
‘Making education and skills-training programs more accessible for women and other underrepresented groups is a key part of solving that problem, but it isn’t enough,’ her statement continued. ‘This bill makes it clear that we can and should do more to support women when it comes to commercializing great ideas, starting small businesses, and creating jobs.’
HR4755 (Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act) was introduced by U.S. Rep Barbara Comstock (R-VA). The bill requires NASA to continue three of its ongoing programs which focus on inspiring young girls’ interest in STEM, as well as develop a strategy that leverages NASA’s current and former personnel to encourage young girls to enter into STEM fields, with a focus on aerospace science.
It’s hard to imagine anyone who would oppose such positive and empowering programs designed to help young women across the nation. But during a vote on HR4755 on March 22, three U.S. representatives managed to fill that role. U.S. Rep. Gohmert, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) were the only three dissenting votes.
Here’s a video of Gohmert explaining why he would not support either bill.
Gohmert may be the first congressman to invoke Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and legendary physicist and chemist Marie Curie while arguing against a bill designed to encourage education and opportunities for young women.
It just seems that, if we are ever going to get to the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., that he spoke just down the Mall, he wanted people to be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin,” the Texas Republican opined. “I know after race has been an issue that needed attention, then gender appropriately got attention.
The great civil rights champion declared that “those things are not supposed to matter.”
It just seems like, when we come in and we say that it is important that for a while we discriminate, we end up getting behind,” he continued. “And then probably 25 years from now boys are going to have fallen behind in numbers, and then we are going to need to come in and say: Actually, when we passed that bill forcing encouragement of girls and not encouraging of little boys, we were getting behind the eight ball. We didn’t see that we were going to be leaving little boys in the ditch, and now we need to start doing programs to encourage little boys.
Because lord knows that there just aren’t enough men in commercial science fields, right? Perhaps the congressman should sponsor a bill focused on the promotion of more white males in various fields of industry, like Hollywood for example?
Gohmert also said that the bill would have destroyed Madame Curie’s research and put “millions and millions of lives” in grave danger.
I thank God that there wasn’t a program like this that distracted her,” Gohmert said. “But according to the bill that we passed today, we are requiring the Science Foundation to encourage entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. Thank God that is not what Madame Curie did.
Millions of women also thank God, U.S. Rep. Gohmert isn’t their husband or father.
*CORRECTION: An early version of this article included quotes that were misattributed to Rep. Louie Gohmert. We apologize for the error.