Reasons to Be Grateful in 2013: The Women in Politics Edition

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the things for which we're grateful. I try to remember this gratitude all year long, but this week is an especially important time to express it. Here, a handful of the many political women and events most deserving of a hearty "thank you" for inspiring me and so many others, initiating action, and getting results in 2013.

Home-State Advantage: Massachusetts Women Jump In (and Win)
While I focus on women in politics through a national lens, I work to elect them in my home state of Massachusetts, too. This year saw a historic Boston City Council race, with four women on the general ballot two of whom -- Ayanna Pressley and Michelle Wu -- earned the most votes for at-large spots. Charlotte Golar Richie finished a close third in her run for mayor -- a strong showing that signaled a turning tide for the city. We're also poised to send another fabulous woman to Congress when State Senator Katherine Clark wins the general election on December 10. And Attorney General Martha Coakley, the most qualified and likable person in the race, is proving she has what it takes to become the first woman elected governor of Massachusetts.

Everything's Bigger in Texas: Wendy Davis's Big News
With her launch into the Texas Governor's race, State Senator Wendy Davis made the end of 2013 even more exciting than her mid-summer filibuster that made her a household name. Thank you, Senator Davis, for standing up for Texas, standing against anti-woman policies, and most importantly, for energizing women across the country.

Pulling Rank: Military Sexual Assault Gets a Spotlight
As I wrote here earlier this year, women in Congress are tackling sexual assault in the military with the tenacity the issue deserves. Of course, sexual assault does not uniquely affect women, and many men in Congress are active allies. But it is women who are leading the fight for a legislative solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, is using her coalition-building skills to rally support for her proposal to remove military commanders from involvement in sexual assault and rape cases.

While she could face an uphill battle in the Senate when the chamber returns after the Thanksgiving break, Senator Gillibrand isn't backing down. As she said in a recent Washington Post interview, "I know I can make a difference here. I know that I can find common ground with any senator in that chamber -- any senator in that chamber -- and I will look for those solutions."

In the current dysfunctional political environment, it's refreshing to see her defiance of obstruction in favor of forging real solutions.

Finally: Violence Against Women Act Becomes Law
Yes, it took more than 500 days for Congress to reauthorize and reinforce the common-sense protections in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). And while the law strengthens protections for the LGBT community, Native American women, and undocumented immigrants, it is not perfect. But it is the most inclusive VAWA to date -- and that is a reason to be grateful. As I wrote with Congresswoman Gwen Moore this spring, "inclusivity in VAWA matters for the same reason it matters in Congress: It is better for everyone."

All Love is Equal: The Supreme Court Gets It Right
This summer, the Supreme Court deemed the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, affording federal benefits to same-sex couples in the now 15 states (and Washington, D.C.) where marriage equality is the law. This isn't only good for women, of course. But it was a woman -- the unflappable Edie Windsor -- who took her case to the Supreme Court and helped make this a reality. Here's to love -- and hoping we see it spread into 2014 and beyond.

For these reasons and more, 2013 has been a good year. I am so grateful.