Tampa honors Sen. Helen Gordon Davis

10/16/08 Seán Kinane
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The city of Tampa declared today Helen Gordon Davis Day in honor of the former state senator, who has been fighting for equality for women and others since before entering politics in 1974. The declaration was made at a luncheon in her honor at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa organized by the Centre for Women and the Florida Displaced Homemakers Network.

Gordon Davis said she could not resist speaking about women’s issues even though she was warned not to talk about politics. She also called for appropriate elder care, meaningful welfare reform, expanded access to healthcare, equal pay for equal work, and an equal rights amendment to the Constitution.

President of the Florida Displaced Homemakers Network Association Debbie Bass thanked Gordon Davis for her struggles.

In 1991, Helen Gordon Davis sponsored a bill that mandated that there be two women’s toilets for every one men’s toilet in public restrooms, what became known as the “potty parity” bill.

Both branches of the Florida Legislature proclaimed April 10th of this year Helen Gordon Davis Day. Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank questioned whether Sen. Gordon Davis would have supported her resolution.

The resolution was ushered through the Senate by Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

George Sheldon was recently appointed Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families; a move he joked was a payback by his former political opponent, Gov. Charlie Crist. Sheldon praised Gordon Davis for being Florida’s first white woman to join the NAACP, in addition to her numerous legislative causes.

Judge Elvin Martinez, who predated Gordon Davis in the Florida Legislature, credited her for making him think of women’s rights for the first time.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

The Centre for Women

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