When House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was voted in as Speaker of the House in 2008 dozens of children, including her five grandchildren, stood on the House floor to witness the event. But when Barack Obama is officially voted in as his party’s presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention next week, there will be no young children on the convention floor, which is open only to credentialed state delegates.
One mom, Susie Shannon, a California delegate from Los Angeles, is fighting the DNC rules so her four-year-old daughter Gracie can accompany her onto the convention floor.
“It’s either allow children on the floor or provide child care,” Shannon said. ”You can’t expect that every single woman who is a delegate can leave their child at home in another city for week and go to the convention.”
Neither the Democratic National Convention nor the Republican National Convention provide any type of child care services, although the DNC does include a list of nearby child care centers in its delegate packet.
RNC spokesman James Davis said children are allowed on the floor of the GOP convention if they have the proper credentials, which “in theory” he said could be given to a 4-year-old such as Shannon’s daughter.
The DNC said it has no plans to add child care services and noted that, like at the RNC, the only people allowed on the convention floor are those with floor credentials. The vast vast majority of those credentials are only given to delegates with a handful of other floor credentials given to media and delegate staff.
“Democratic conventions have historically required credentials for all individuals to access the convention hall to ensure the safety and security of all attending,” DNC Committee spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement to ABC News.
While kids do not have open access to the convention floor, they are welcomed on the floor of the House of Representatives, where members of Congress can bring children under the age of 13 while the House is in session.
Four Southern California chapters of the National Organization for Women teamed up with women’s rights icon Gloria Steinem to condemn the DNC’s policy and call for the party to allow delegates to bring their children with them into the convention voting space.
“Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women,” Steinem said in a statement. “It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.”
While Steinem is critical of the Democratic Party this week, she was commending its leader for supporting women’s rights.
“He understands that women are absolutely full human beings,” Steinem said of Obama in a video for his campaign.
Shannon, who is on the executive board of the California Democratic Party, said she has brought her daughter along to every state convention for the past four years with no problems. She criticized the “hypocrisy” of the Democratic Party because while it courts women voters on one hand, it is “not providing for the needs of many women” at the convention.
“It’s sort of like a check your baby at the door kind of policy,” Shannon said. “If they want the mom vote and they want moms to participate and they want to say they are speaking for moms, they need to accommodate for them.”