As a mother, daughter, wife and proud Nebraskan, I cannot sit by and ignore the insults spewed at Julie Slama by fellow state legislator Ernie Chambers.

During recent legislative debate, Mr. Chambers attacked Senator Slama and insinuated that this talented, bright and motivated young woman could not have genuinely gained a leadership position in Nebraska based clearly upon her merit. He went on to say, “Suppose I had raped White women? Suppose I enslaved Sen. Slama, and used her the way that I wanted to.” This isn’t just insulting, it’s horrifying.

How are the young women of Nebraska to receive Mr. Chambers’ message and the lack of response by most of the leaders of our state? I wonder how I can ask my daughters to make their home and build their careers in a state where that type of comment goes unchallenged? This comment isn’t hurled at one woman – it’s hurled at us all. But it is especially insulting to the smart, talented and amazing young women of our state.

Where are the leaders of our state? Public and private sector; men and women; conservatives, moderates and liberals should be united in their response. Where is their anger and disgust? Why have they not taken a stand to support our daughters and sisters against such egregious and insulting remarks? I’m especially disappointed in the silence from state legislators. Will this be a time when those who can make a difference turn away instead, either out of fear, partisanship or apathy?

And where is the press? Why have so few reporters tried to get leaders on the record? Why haven’t they interviewed officials so Nebraskans understand if they stand alongside the young, smart talented women of this state or on the side of Mr. Chambers?

To all of the leaders of Nebraska, it’s time to take a stand and let us know who you support. We can do better and we must do better for the people we serve.

To the young women in Mr. Chambers’ district – and to all of the women of Nebraska – Mr. Chambers may not believe in you, but I do. Keep being smart; keep being talented; keep being wise and a leader and taking risks, so you can lead us where we need to go.

— First Lady Susanne Shore, Omaha