Lawmakers in the state of Idaho this week voted against accepting nearly $6 million in federal grants to make early childhood education more accessible in their state.
One lawmaker made clear why he was voting against expanding early education: because it "makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home."
"I don't think anybody does a better job than mothers in the home, and any bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child, I don't think that's a good direction for us to be going," he said.
The bill failed on a 34-36 vote. It is expected to be reconsidered.
One day after the vote, Shepherd apologized for his "misguided statements," saying that he was trying to compliment mothers "for being the best people at early childhood development."
"In no way, I in no way meant to insult, in no way meant to insinuate that mothers that work outside the home were at any fault in any way," he said.
"My point was I was trying to give mothers as much credit as I could and I just completely and totally blew it," Shepherd added.
We agree with his last point: he definitely blew it.
Look, we understand that lawmakers vote to represent their constituents and their consciences. We recognize that lawmakers often vote on complex, multifaceted issues that are rarely clear-cut.
We don't tell people how to vote—on any issue.
But we are an organization dedicated to the wellness and empowerment of women and their families. Rep. Shepherd's "misguided statements" go against our core values.
If you are a mother who chooses to stay home with her children, we support you.
If you are a parent who works full-time out of the home, we support you.
If you are juggling part-time or freelance work, if you're working at home while raising your children—we support you.
We support your decision to raise your family in the best way you know how.
We do not support withholding early childhood education to force mothers out of the workforce.
If Rep. Shepherd truly wants to give mothers the credit they deserve, he should support them in having total autonomy over how to best raise their families.
Shepherd attributed his "misguided statements," at least in part, to nerves.
"When you get up to speak on the floor of the house, it's very nerve-racking and sometimes what you think you're saying and your mind is telling you to say, it comes out completely different," he said. "The point I was trying to make was lost."
Allow us to make our point clear: we support parents in how they decide to raise their children. Lawmakers should, too—and they should do everything in their power to prove it.