Missouri lawmakers this week adopted a stricter dress code for women as part of a new package of rules, requiring them to wear jackets such as blazers, cardigans or knit blazers to cover their shoulders. .
The addition, proposed by Republican Rep. Anne Kelly, has sparked outrage from some Democrats who said the change was sexist because the dress code for men remained unchanged.
Men in the Missouri House of Representatives are required to wear jackets, shirts, and ties. Previously, the women’s dress code required “a dress or skirt or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots”.
Kelly said on the House floor that he felt compelled to propose changes “to clean up some of the language by mirroring the language of the gentleman’s dress code.”
“Men are required to wear jackets, shirts and ties, right? If you do, you’ll get a gavel in your heartbeat, so we’re very concerned about equality,” Kelly said during a debate on the floor on Wednesday.
According to the state House of Representatives site, the Missouri House of Representatives is made up of 116 men and 43 women, with women occupying less than a third of the seats.
The dress code amendment was passed by voice vote, and the rules package was later adopted by the Republican-controlled Congress by a vote of 105 to 51, but not without backlash and debate from House Democrats.
“You know what it’s like to have a bunch of men in this room looking at your top and trying to decide if it’s right for you?” Democrat State Rep. Ashley Orne declared from the House floor. .
Republicans changed the amendment to include cardigans after Democratic Rep. Rachel Proudy criticized the impact of requiring blazers on pregnant women.
Democrat Rep. Peter Merides refused to vote on the amendment, telling his colleagues on the floor: everything goes down.
“For the last two years, when I told you that we might wear masks in the pandemic to keep each other safer, everyone was deterred. How can you tell me? I know some governments require women to wear something over their face, but here, how many layers should they wear over their shoulders? We’re just talking about whether or not we have to, so it’s okay,” Merides added.
Until 2017, the U.S. Congress required journalists and members of Congress to wear dresses or blouses with sleeves when entering the House. A bipartisan group of female lawmakers protested the “right to bare arms” and got the office of then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to admit that the dress code “could be modernized a bit.” , the U.S. Senate has amended its rules as well, The New York Times reported.
Aune told CNN Friday afternoon that the change shows that state Republicans are not focusing on “the issues that matter.”
“In 2019, House Republicans passed an abortion ban that went into effect this summer after Dobbs’ decision, completely limiting women’s right to choose in this state. They’re pushing for female dominance,” she said on the CNN Newsroom.
“That’s wild to me. I think it sends the message that the Republican Party, the Missouri Republican Party, doesn’t have the best interests in mind and doesn’t focus on the issues that matter.”
This story has been updated with additional details.