I just returned from the convention of the National Federation of Republican Women (NFRW) on Sunday. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was most interested in knowing that my voice could be heard and that I voted for a change. 

The normal course in NFRW elections is for the current administration to select a group of candidates that best reflect the whole organization. This time, a slate was selected and promoted on social media outlets, Zoom calls, emails and personal calls.

The president they selected to lead the organization was a long-time member of the NFRW Board, Vanessa LaFranco from New Jersey. She was very polished and had no problem answering any questions she received. 

The problem was not the question, but her answer.

Two years ago, a transgender delegate came to the convention. This was very troubling since this was a women’s organization, prompting several states to immediately pass resolutions describing what a woman is. Alabama was one of those states.

This sparked a conversation that a similar resolution was needed for the NFRW, as the current bylaws say only that NFRW is a women’s organization. LaFranco, however, did not want to change any wording in the current bylaws that indicated only “biological women at birth” could be members. New Jersey and California had laws against discrimination of transgender individuals, she said, and we would be sued if we changed the wording. She was even rounding up pro-bono attorneys to help with the costs. Thus, her stand on this issue became the focal point of the election this past weekend.

Julie Harris from Arkansas set out to unseat the slate selected by the existing NFRW’s nominating committee, putting together a slate of her own called “4fromthefloor.” Although endorsed by Arkansas Republicans U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders as someone who helped turn around Arkansas during the Clinton years, Harris still faced an uphill battle since the current NFRW president had decided that delegate names could not be made known to either candidate nor were resolutions being accepted from the floor. 

That did not deter Harris. Her campaign took off once she began running it on the transgender member issue, for the people were on her side. Running a very organized and precise campaign, she maneuvered Robert’s Rules to allow a resolution to be introduced from the floor. The vote to allow this was overwhelming, for delegates were determined to pass a resolution not allowing transgenders to be members, only allowing them to be associate members.

I stood in line to be recognized, but debate was cut off before I had time to speak. I had personal knowledge of a resolution such as this since my husband was on the resolutions committee at the Republican National Committee (RNC) and they passed one in 2022 concerning this very situation. The main Resolve was:

“That the Republican National Committee affirms that for the purposes of state and federal law, a person’s sex is defined as his or her biological sex (either male or female).”

All resolutions presented to the RNC committee are always vetted and critiqued by staff attorneys before they pass the resolutions committee. The resolutions are then put before the 168 members of the RNC. This resolution passed without objection. They have not been sued over this resolution.

The slate was told that the organization was private and courts had already made decisions that they were not liable. The NFRW bylaws refer to members only. Our membership is made up of Republican women only. Limiting the membership to biological women is a similar choice.

The Miss USA pageant was sued in 2022. The liberal 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided a pageant can define who can be a contestant or who can be excluded based on women being biological women.

In 1984, Roberts vs. United States Jaycees found that the Boy Scouts have the right to decide who can be a scout leader, winning based on the First Amendment right of free association.

In 2023, a Wyoming sorority added a male to their membership and was sued by other members. Since their bylaws did not define who could be a member, they lost their case. If their bylaws had defined who could be a member, the outcome would have been different.

When the vote was counted, the 4fromthefloor slate won, and Harris won overwhelmingly. The delegates spoke, and Harris stood up for the right reason.

We can all stand against the woke agenda being proposed, just like Harris did. Don’t complain about it and try to blend. Fight for what is right. Get involved. We can all make a difference. 

Joan Reynolds is the Vice Chairman of the ALGOP.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].

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