Monthly Archives: June 2013

2 posts

Difficult Circumstances Indeed

Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’ heroic act of using her political weight to advocate for women who she has never met outweighed the physical feat of standing for over eleven hours talking on a single topic without learning or taking a break for water or the restroom.

I was impressed by the physical act that Wendy Davis accomplished and realize that it was as challenging as the content she spoke on. Davis came prepared – orange sneakers and a back brace – and knew the most important four words – “I will not yield”.

Davis was speaking for women throughout Texas to ensure the government kept its hands off their bodies. In a male dominated environment, she knew walking in that she would take heat after the night ended. But this was not new for Davis, she already cramped Texas Governor Rick Perry’s style once before. 

As background, Texas Senate Bill 5 contained language that if enacted, there would have been a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and would have imposed additional regulations on clinics, which would have closed as many as 37 of Texas’ 42 clinics.

Both patients’ and care-givers’ access and rights would have been affected. While the claim that the new regulations, such as proximity to a hospital, would have improved care, it actually would have prohibited the ability for countless women to receive services. For example, a woman would have had to drive more than 30 miles each way, twice, within a 48 hour period to receive the Plan B contraceptive pill.  There is no doubt that Texas Senate Bill 5 is an attempt to impose personal opinion and belief onto women’s bodies through the form of law.  

Anyone who honestly believes there is a divide between the personal and political is as mistaken as believing that there really is a separation between church and state. Just look to Gov. Perry’s remarks this morning at the National Right to Life Convention where he not only brought up Senator Davis and her (successful) filibuster, but also utilized her in his argument regarding right to life. He stated:

“No life is trivial in God’s eyes. And the fact is, who are we to say that children born in the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives? In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.” 

For Gov. Perry, it is God who dictates the correct decision of legislation pertaining to women’s bodies. Not only did Perry bring religion into a human rights and legislative debate, but he also found it relevant to bring Senator Davis’s past into the matter by claiming her own life choices were a mistake, and degrading her as a woman, daughter and mother – utterly inappropriate. Who is he to say that Senator Davis was born into “difficult circumstances” and share her life story?  Would she have not fought the same if she had not had these particular life experiences?

The gender double standard here is unmistakably sadistic. Women seek to terminate pregnancies for a plethora of reasons. A significant number of women seek abortions for rape, to which the rapist of a woman inevitably is a man. Women choose not to carry a child due to financial insecurity, which would not be a staunch problem were it not for the gender gap in pay. And the mere fact that this bill is being brought forward by a government body that is comprised mostly by men, and it requires a woman’s voice to delineate its detrimental effects is by no means a coincidence. Senator Davis is the advocate we needed, now we need women AND men to come forward to defeat this bill permanently. 

Instead of narrowly looking at Senator Davis’ personal past, why not expand that view to her accomplishments that have changed the voice of women in Texas. Women chanted “Let her speak” as her words became their own.

This morning, Gov. Perry called for a second special session. I expect this bill will be brought up for a vote early to decrease the possibility of a successful filibuster. However, Senator Davis has shown women everywhere anyone can become an advocate and create change today

Come prepared, be ready to stand up for what you believe in (for a very long time), and don’t let the bullies get the better.  And remember those four words, “I will not yield”

 

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“Please get married right away”

is what Edith Windsor said to a friend after learning about the success of her case. 

It is nearly impossible to sit still and focus when the nation is acting and creating the change we have been working so hard to embrace – right now!  Last night, I went to a meeting at the CT NOW office and upon leaving, I took a picture of a poster that had to be at least 10 years old (I think older than that). It was a simple white square 2ft by 2 ft with purple writing that says “Legalize Lesbian Rights” with CT NOW around the perimeter. I sent it jokingly to my girlfriend.

 

 “Take nothing for granted”… How about a 5-4 vote on the legality of human rights and happiness? Today, the Supreme Court ruled on DOMA. Thank you to those who voted in favor of justice and human rights, and just for the record, those with dissenting votes:  Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

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Text of decisions:

 http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-357_q8l1.pdf

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

 

I tried to follow on http://www.scotusblog.com/ as the vote was happening. There are no words for the amount of confusion! As impatient as I was, I sat back and waiting for my co-worker to decode the tweets and announcements. Here are the findings from the vote:

The  vote was related to section 3 of DOMA:  “What section 3 of DOMA does is that it performs a find and replace of every instance of where ‘spouse’ or ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ appears and changes it so that it’s “opposite sex husband” or ‘opposite sex wife’…The effect is going to vary based on which of the thousand-plus statutes or regulations are affected.” 

Much of the debate is around financial rights. For example, “…married same-sex couples where one member is employed by the federal government are entitled to spousal benefits, just the same as any other married couple.”

In relationships of legally married couples who reside in a state that does not legally recognized their marriage it is still unclear if the “state of celebration” or “state of residence” holds precedent. However, since the “state of celebration” is most widely recognized, in my opinion, couples should in fact be entitled to spousal benefits.

Shortly after DOMA’s decision a post came through on SCOTUS blog that was loud and clear. Governor Brown is ordering all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: “After years of struggle, the U.S. Supreme Court today has made same-sex marriage a reality in California. In light of the decision, I have directed the California Department of Public Health to advise the state’s counties that they must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in California as soon as the Ninth Circuit confirms the stay is lifted.” Going back to the story of the text I sent of haphazardly to my girlfriend. Well it just so happens that she is in San Francisco today (Jealous? Yes!). As the Supreme Court chimed in on Prop. 8 to decide that gay marriage is now legal in California (understanding that the court makes no national ruling), she sent me the most appropriate picture… 

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With or without this decision – there is no doubt that same-sex couples would continue to live, to love, and to be happy together. However, this decision is a step in the fight for equality that is justified and deserved. Let me put it this way, no one should ever be viewed as less equal because of the person next to them when they say “I love you” and “I do”

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Here’s to having equal rights when you say “I do”, I love you! 

 

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