Last Thursday I had the pleasure of serving as a Lobby Leader for Planned Parenthood. I was incredibly excited to be able to take action against this most recent attack on women and to help fight against misogyny. Many of the women were rather surprised to see a man as their Lobby Leader. I guess I’m always surprised that more men are not taking action. As a gay man, I am always fearful when I see blatant misogyny, for homophobia and misogyny go hand in hand. I say emphatically that regardless of where you stand on the issue of choice, I firmly believe women should always have the choice to govern their own bodies, as we do as men.
Upon arriving at the state capitol, everyone was quite excited and enthusiastic. I was also struck by how kind everyone was. Solidarity does a great deal to lift one’s spirits. For those that are anti-choice, I invite you to a Planned Parenthood meeting to see first hand the contrast of the vitriol I have witnessed from the anti-choice demonstrations to the kind and energetic voices of those that support women’s health.
My biggest disappointment was our visit with a certain female representative (R-OR). In all candor and transparency, I’m rather reluctant to name her at this point. We met with our state senator and two state representatives. The Republican was the only one that kept us waiting for over 30 minutes. Many of the folks I was with had to leave because it was well past four when we were finally granted an audience. We addressed the specific bills that we are concerned about that effect women’s health and asked if we could count her support. To my shock, she exclaimed that: ” I am not going to let anyone from Planned Parenthood know my views.” Two of the women I was with asked if they could please know where she stands on the issues as her constituents, to which she replied “no.” At this point, she went on, quite excitedly, about how Planned Parenthood deliberately tried to smear her campaign–I should comment that there is no substantiation here to support anything of the sort. Planned Parenthood is exceedingly careful to vet all volunteers and those of us that staff the phone banks during election time–we have to stick to the script provided.
I was also disappointed to see how partisan women’s health is currently. Over 13 Republicans refused to even engage in a conversation with us–really? Really? Elected officials can feel good about refusing to meet with constituents regarding laws over their own bodies? One state senator told us that there are a couple of Republicans that are pro-choice, but are too fearful to publicly go against their own party. What leaves me nonplussed is how a woman, or any minority could identify as a Republican right now.
I want to thank all of the “do-gooders” that were in my group and to thank all of the people at Planned Parenthood for fighting the good fight. I now ask all of you to take action. Please support Planned Parenthood! Write a check or volunteer. Get involved. If you need to find a contact email me and I will point you in the right direction.