US Democratic lawmakers urge wearing black to Trump speech in solidarity with #MeToo movement

(From left) Susan Sarandon, Emma Watson, Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, America Ferrera and Natalie Portman at the Warner Bros and InStyle Golden Globes afterparty.
(From left) Susan Sarandon, Emma Watson, Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, America Ferrera and Natalie Portman at the Warner Bros and InStyle Golden Globes afterparty.PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Several Democratic US congresswomen will wear black to President Donald Trump's upcoming State of the Union Address in solidarity with the "MeToo" movement opposing sexual harassment, a female lawmaker said on Wednesday (Jan 10).

Democrat Jackie Speier tweeted that she and other Democratic women in the House of Representatives were calling on lawmakers from both parties "to wear black to this year's #SOTU in solidarity w/ survivors of sexual harassment/violence in Hollywood, politics, the military, academia, etc."

Trump is scheduled to deliver his first State of the Union Speech on Jan 30 before a joint session of Congress, an opportunity for him to explain his priorities for the coming year.

But with Hollywood declaring war on the film industry's culture of sexual harassment and abuse after the downfall of mogul Harvey Weinstein, and stars of media and politics also rocked by similar scandal, the reckoning appeared set for a moment of further exposure on Capitol Hill.

Last Sunday, many A-list actresses dressed in black at the Golden Globes award ceremony as a sartorial protest against sexual harassment.

US lawmakers have been grappling with the issue. Several members have been forced to resign recently, including senator Al Franken and longtime congressman John Conyers, after being accused of misconduct.

A record 89 women are now serving in the 435-member House of Representatives. Sixty-six of them are Democrats.

Last month, nearly 60 female Democratic lawmakers demanded that Congress investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump.

Some 20 women have publicly accused Trump of misconduct. The White House has maintained that the women are lying.

Last year Speier acknowledged that she was a victim of sexual assault on Capitol Hill when she was a young congressional aide.

Speier's call to wear black at Trump's State of the Union earned support from top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

"Thanks to the brave women of the #MeToo movement, we are at a watershed moment in the fight against sexual harassment," Pelosi tweeted.

"Know that we are with you every step of the way. #TimesUp."