Tag Archives: pro-choice

National Women’s History Month 2016

1 Mar

Women's HistoryMarch 1 marks the beginning of the celebration of National Women’s History Month. My dear friend Molly Murphy MacGregor led the pioneering effort to recognize how women have impacted, shaped, and influenced our world. Molly — always very humble — is the co-founder of the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) and a key force behind why we now celebrate Women’s History Month in the United States. The not insignificant move forward started in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  Finally in 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

Sadly, we still see enormous resistance to treating women equally and equitably. We have no further than to look at the current discourse presented by the GOP presidential candidates to see how far we have yet to go regarding the equitable and equal treatment of women. Never have I witnessed such anti-woman rhetoric in the last 50 years. The false and fictitious allegations brought against PlannedParenthood by misogynist David Daleiden, were nothing less than disgraceful. All subsequent investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. We also had to witness Kansas (R) Sen. Mitch Holmes defending a dress code for women. The dominant narrative continues to exert power over women and continues to create barriers.

We also need to look at issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation and all of the intersections there in when looking at all of the insidious ways women are still discriminated against.

We have much to celebrate and much work yet to accomplish.

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Black History Month 2016: Vanessa Williams

26 Feb

VanessaToday I would like to honor Vanessa Williams, one of the most versatile and gracious talents and a national treasure. I first fell in love with Williams when she was horribly wronged in 1984 and was pressured to relinquish her Miss America Crown. Williams received an official apology for the way she was treated in September 2015 from Miss America CEO Sam Haskell. Of course, Williams was exceedingly gracious and forgiving. I’m not wholly certain I would have been as generous, but I hope I would be.

Later I would fall in love with her again and bought her album The Comfort Zone because it has one of my favorite songs, Save the Best for Last on it. One of the very best Christmas albums ever is Williams’ Star Bright; I have given away many, many copies of this as a gift. Her version of Go Tell it on the Mountain is nothing less than phenomenal.

While she has a list of movie and television roles too long to list, one of my favorite roles — which she made into a gay icon — was the deliciously devilish diva known as Wilhelmina Slater on Ugly Betty. This was a hallmark moment in television, for it had a powerful, brilliant, pro gay black woman sharing the screen with an equally powerful, brilliant, pro gay, Latina woman (America Ferrera). Watching Ugly Betty with our Vanessa Williams made me hopeful that targeted communities would unite and throw off the oppressive shackles of the George W years. Who knew those years would look progressive in light of the current GOP discourse?

Feeling a bit bleak and depressed listening to the hate mongers known as the GOP presidential candidates, my husband and I have started to watch Ugly Betty from the beginning again, as a palliative. It is nice to fall in love with Vanessa Williams all over again. The only reason we ever watched the show Desperate Housewives was so that we could see Williams. We have just started watching a show called The Good Wife and I just learned that Williams is one of the stars in this final season of the show; we’re looking forward to enjoying her in a new role.

Vanessa Williams could have been a tiny footnote in Miss America history. Instead, she rose above the inflated non-scandal and proved what a strong, independent woman she is. Without a doubt the most successful and famous winner of the crown, she definitely had the last laugh. That resilience shines through in her activism: Williams is a vocal pro-choice advocate, a staunch ally of the LGBT community, and a supporter of programs for at-risk youth. She also funds cancer research, actively supports Dress for Success, and works with programs that combat homelessness.

A wonderful singer, talented actor, and beautiful human being! Let’s celebrate all of Vanessa Williams’ accomplishments today.

Dr. Monica Wehby, the Hollow Candidate

22 Aug

Monica WehbyThe 2014 mid-term elections have conservatives salivating, and the Tea Party holds out hope they can gets folks to drink their rancid brew. With many Congressional Democrats retiring and a handful of red-state Democrats seen as highly vulnerable, the GOP is working hard to retake the Senate. If they succeed, President Obama’s final two years in office will make his first six look like a productive picnic. Despite the friendly playing field, conservative operatives are trying not to take anything for granted, noting the many deeply flawed candidates that have cost them probable seats in the past two cycles. (Remember these charm free folks: Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle?) To hedge their bets, they’re looking at less likely pickups and dumping huge amounts of money on some long-shots. The amount of money being poured into GOP hopeful Monica Wehby’s campaign is disturbing. I suspect there are many countries that run on budgets that are much less than what the Koch brothers are pouring into campaigns such as Wehby’s.

The support for Wehby is perplexing. She’s running against Senator Jeff Merkley, the first man to receive the Marilyn Epstein Pro-Choice Champion Award from the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, who is finishing his first term. He’s popular, effective, and honest, but as a Freshman may be vulnerable. Despite the conventional wisdom, Oregon is NOT a blue state, but rather a very purple state with a slight Democratic edge in statewide races. The Koch Brothers and their ilk (The top 1%) have decided that this makes Oregon a potential pickup, so they found themselves a candidate.

Sadly, they did a worse job of vetting their pick than Sen. John McCain (R – Angrytown) did when he chose half-term half-wit Sarah Palin as a running mate. Dr. Monica Wehby is a surgeon and a political newcomer. In a “throw the bums out” year with Congressional approval ratings at an all-time low, this telegenic candidate seems promising. Until she tries to pick a position on, well, anything. Sadly, a number of advertisements against Senator Merkley  are already in full swing.

Before winning the GOP primary, Wehby made headlines for her history of stalking ex-boyfriends. She spun that as proof that she’s a determined person who would work hard to get what she wants in the Senate. The two different and independent stalking cases are pretty serious and my first thought was: “Oy! I only hope she does not have a gun on her.”  She also gained some notoriety for fleeing press conferences and debates once she’d used up her carefully crafted talking points. When pressed about LGBT rights in a TV interview, she kept talking about marriage equality, even though the question was about anti-discrimination laws. She says she’s pro-life but would support a woman’s right to choose while celebrating laws like “partial birth” abortion bans. She says she supports equal pay for women while saying that laws that actually enforce equal pay are bad because they would make employers hire more men to avoid lawsuits. Really. Stammering, stunned, and wide-eyed, she clearly isn’t comfortable taking a position that hasn’t been fed to her by the Kochs and their cronies. Again, I am reminded of Charles Durning’s performance of Dance A Little Sidestep from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Suddenly that Koch money is showing up on the airwaves. Wehby’s new ads are everywhere, trying to make her sound like a smart fiscal conservative. She attacks Sen. Merkley for voting to raise the debt ceiling and for opposing a balanced budget amendment. With a homey but deeply flawed analogy between the Federal budget and household money management, she manages to avoid any real fiscal facts. Raising the debt ceiling was critical to avoiding another, worse financial meltdown if the US were seen to ignore its obligations. The debt that Sen. Merkley wisely voted to keep paying is mostly the result of the fiscal ineptitude of George W. Bush and two pointless, costly wars. The balanced budget amendment is a nightmarish concoction that would hamstring the government. Economists both liberal and conservative decry it as a disaster that should be avoided at all costs. As an experienced legislator, Sen. Merkley knows this. I continue to be shocked and mortified that such falsehoods are allowed to be aired!  I know that in Georgia the Koch money is spreading lies and attacking Democrat hopeful Michelle Nunn. Koch money is fueling elections across the entire country.

It’s clear that Dr. Wehby is intended to be the anti-Merkley. That’s certainly true. Sen Merkley is an experienced, talented legislator with a deep understanding of the issues and a true passion for the needs of Oregon’s citizens. Monica Wehby is a shallow political puppet pursuing a Senate seat just because. Oregon’s choice this November is clear.

Update: Wow! I’m rather appalled and nonplussed to see Ben West doing a commercial supporting Wehby. Mr. West, I’m curious as to how you would support Wehby when she was NOT pro-marriage equality until after it was a fait accompli?  I’m also curious that she was not at Gay Pride nor has she attended a Basic Rights Oregon function?  In the commercial you assert that she is for all families, but it seems rather obvious that she is only for white wealthy families, and now you her token gay friend.

Hero of the Week Award: July 12, Judge William Conley

12 Jul
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

This week it is a pleasure to celebrate another judge standing up to the unconstitutional overreach of institutionalized misogyny.

Frustrated by the continued existence of women’s rights to make their own health and reproductive choices, Republican-controlled legislatures around the country are trying their best to create de facto abortion-free zones of their states. Invasive ultrasounds and needless waiting periods aren’t enough. The latest trick is creating cumbersome requirements for doctors at clinics that provide abortions as part of their services.

Wisconsin is the latest, with a new law — signed by charm-free Gov. Scott Walker — that requires hospital admitting privileges, something no other clinics require. Planned Parenthood challenged the law, and U.S. District Judge William Conley sided with them.  Let us remind our selves that Planned Parenthood provides greatly needed health care for women that could not other wise afford simple things like pap smears that test for cancer.

Noting that “there is a troubling lack of justification for the hospital admitting privileges requirement,” Conley placed a stay on the law until he can hold further hearings. Citing Roe v Wade, the judge added “Moreover, the record to date strongly supports a finding that no medical purpose is served by this requirement.”

Judge Conley will no doubt be accused by the so-called  family values crowd of “judicial activism” for actually doing his job. Insisting that access to care must be equitable is the right thing to do. Thank you, Judge Conley, for standing up against the War on Women in Wisconsin–not an easy battle when going up against the racist, homophobic, classist, neo-fascist, Scott Walker.  Mr. Walker, have you no decency?

Bigot of the Week Award: July 12, Cleveland Right to Life

12 Jul
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

Wow! This week’s BWA goes to Cleveland Right to Life, who have shown appalling dedication to HATE.  In a move that shows how intertwined misogyny and homophobia are, these Clevelanders have extended their mission from working against women’s health to include opposing marriage equality.  This is what I would call a BIG BALL OF HATE.  Those of you in the greater Cleveland area may need to take cover.  I suspect this type of intense hate is enough to catch the Cuyahoga River on fire again.

Shall we also talk about how this move translates into not only homophobia, misogyny, and classism, but it also ties directly into racism?  These Cleveland Right to Lifers are targeting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations and the impact is far more severe if you are a woman of color or a gay person of color.

The announcement of this expansion of bigotry came as the group responded to Sen. Rob Portman’s (R – OH) announcement that he supported marriage equality because his son is gay. explaining their need to hate more people, Cleveland Right to Life officials observed that marriage equality, euthanasia, and abortion are all

contrary to the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God … every human life is created by the sexual union of male and female.

God forbid a parent should carefully consider policy that impacts his child and then make an informed, compassionate decision. NO! Jesus said no abortions and hate the gays and hate women! Well, they’re sure he meant to, anyway…

Roe v. Wade: Celebrating 40 Years

22 Jan

roe40thstampOn January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court finally ruled that women in this country could legally govern their own bodies with the landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.  Sadly, 40 years later, we are witnessing a vicious attack on women’s health with people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch and their ilk working to take full control over women’s bodies.

Another concrete example of recent monstrous misogyny is Republican Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi. His stated goal is to shut down the last clinic in the state that provides safe and legal abortions. On Thursday, Bryant said:

My goal, of course, is to shut it down. Now, we’ll follow the laws. The bill is in the courts now, related to the physicians and their association with a hospital. But, certainly, if I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow.

Here we see some serious white male privilege at work. Bryant and all of the anti-choice folk seem far more interested in protecting the fetus while demonstrating complete disdain once the child is born.  Furthermore, we have a serious class issue at hand.  For women of financial resources, the law becomes immaterial, for they can travel someplace to have a safe and legal abortion.  What about women without resources? Why do Bryant and his ilk get to decide what is best for women in our country? Those who are anti-choice should be free to live their own lives according to their beliefs; they do not, however, possess the right to impose their beliefs on others through abusive practices.

The power of the courts to clarify rights and interpret law is vital. We should celebrate significant decisions like Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board of Education. But we live in a participatory democracy and must remain vigilant. On many issues there will be disagreements and those who feel their views should triumph over established rights. As we take time to celebrate great decisions, we must also strive to ensure that the fruits of those decisions remain available to all Americans, regardless of class, location, race, or any other factor.

Get Out The Vote!

5 Nov

Tomorrow is election day and I cannot underscore enough how important it is to get to the polls and vote.  Not only are we voting for President (at this point, I don’t think it is a surprise that TSM is endorsing President Obama), but there are myriad other issues and seats that will be decided. On the national level, control of the Senate is clearly tied to tomorrow’s votes. The House is less clearly up for grabs, but there may be hope. Hundreds of state and local issues, including ballot measures about taxation and marriage equality also abound.

Let us hope that intelligence, compassion, and the social contract prevail over the homophobia, bigotry, lies and lunacy that are so pervasive in the GOP/Tea Party — the party that seeks to crush all who are not white, heterosexual, male, and wealthy.  Let us hope that we stop the victimizing of women, people of color, and the LGBT community. Tomorrow is our opportunity to say: “We will not be intimidated and we will not be deterred.  We will cast our ballots for hope and solidarity.”

We must not succumb to the intimidation tactics from the white rich Republicans who have purchased billboards in Ohio and Wisconsin to threaten minority groups and keep them from voting. Two days ago, in Clackamas County, Oregon, Republicans started tampering with ballots by filling in blanks with Republican candidates. Mailers in Florida are clearly designed to compel Republicans to vote, while intimidation tacics are in place to keep minorities from the polls.

There is only one sound reaction. Stand up and vote. Do not let anyone tamper with your rights. Do not stand for intimidation or suppression. Many issues — including most of the significant ones — will be decided by slim margins. Every vote counts. Let yours be among them.

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