Tag Archive for: marriage equality

I know a lot of folks who have been feeling what I call “churn.” For me, that is the sensation of being in the middle of a giant wave as it curls, completely underwater and surrounded by movement and sound and sand rolling all around you.  So much turmoil – not all of it bad – and the only thing to do is wait it out, sit tight until the water and debris have crashed over the top of you and you can see clearly once again.  I have heard it attributed to Mercury in retrograde, and I know folks that subscribe to that belief. I honestly don’t know what it is, but I do know that in the last year or so people I know and love have experienced a lot of big changes in their lives, felt huge emotional swings as they follow uprisings in other countries, outbreaks of illness, seeming epidemics of gun and sexual violence, and giant leaps forward for social justice like the swell of marriage equality laws and folks like Wendy Davis and Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders standing up to speak their truth loudly.  I have watched loved ones experience big ups and downs in their personal lives and sometimes it feels as though this wave will never break on the shore, but I think it is imminent.  I have felt optimistic for a long time that all of this churn is heading toward something monumental, some sort of breakthrough for all of us that will eventually offer a clean slate of beachfront upon which we can begin to rebuild. I see strong, smart people working hard to create peace in ways big and small, parents having difficult conversations with their kids and kids stepping up to the challenge.  I see a genuine openness to have lively debates about personal freedoms and community values.  The pushback is fierce from those who are comfortable with the status quo, but that is to be expected and I think it’s a good sign.

Last week when Gloria Steinem spoke to the group at Ghost Ranch, she put it in a way I had never considered before, but I quickly copied her words down in my notebook. They have been bouncing off the walls of my skull ever since like that little pixelated square in the video game of my childhood, Pong.

Gloria said that she thinks it is informative to look at our civilizations in the context of growing up, that if we are afraid to look back historically and have honest conversations about what happened to us in our ‘childhood,’ we are doomed to repeat the same patterns over and over again in the future. In my opinion, we are at a crucial time in our country’s history where we are confronting those patterns and really talking about those things. We are speaking up about campus domestic violence, recognizing the toll that gun violence is taking on our families and communities, looking at the ways that we have marginalized and oppressed entire groups of people over the last hundred years. This churn is stirring up every grain of sand and holding it to the light for examination and the result is messy.  Perhaps the most powerful part of Gloria’s observation concerns the research that shows that women who are victims of domestic violence are most likely to be killed or seriously injured just as they are escaping or just after they have escaped.  She likened this recent uprising of conversation and activism around domestic violence and women’s rights in the United States to our culture readying itself to break free. We are sitting in a precarious spot, in the middle of this giant wave, and we have to remain very aware as we wait for it to break.  We cannot stop now, even though we may be afraid, because we are about to shift into a new place of liberation.  I hope you’ll hang in there for the ride with me.

I will admit to watching very little of Senator Wendy Davis’ single-handed filibuster of SB5, a bill that would have seriously restricted access to abortion in the state of Texas. I started to watch it, fascinated by the courage and conviction of a person who would consent to standing without leaning, eating, taking bathroom breaks, or sitting for 13 hours to prove a point.  I felt a certain kinship with someone who is so passionate about women’s reproductive rights that she would endure that much discomfort to represent other women in her state and protect their rights.

I had to turn away when she began debating a Republican Senator who also happens to be a doctor on the specifics of the legislation.  While I didn’t disagree with her responses to him, my idealist response rose up like so much bile in my throat with each exchange.  Each time he asked a question I heard my own words in my head:

Come up with all of the provisions you want. Call them what you want – safety measures, viability concerns, procedural details. I don’t care. My position remains the same: medical decisions belong in the clinic. They ought to be made between a patient and his/her caregiver(s). We don’t tell young men who haven’t fathered children that they can’t have a vasectomy. We don’t tell obese people that they ought (or ought not) to have bariatric surgery. We trust those decisions to be made on a case-by-case basis between the patient and his or her doctor. We trust that the medical professional has the patient’s best interest at heart and that they have been trained properly and that the circumstances are outside of our knowledge. I will not debate ANY abortion legislation with you under ANY circumstances. There is no condition under which I believe health care decisions ought to be made for an entire group of people at once by a legislative body. Period. Full stop. 

It came down to the wire and, at times seemed as though Ms. Davis’ filibuster was all for naught, but the eruption in the gallery prevented the lawmakers from taking a vote and, for today at least, SB5 was defeated.

I woke up relieved and then saw the news on my Facebook page that the Supreme Court had done away with the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. While neither of these decisions is as sweeping as many marriage equality proponents would like, I feel as though today is a triumph of trust.

The defeat of SB5 means that, at least for now, the majority of women in Texas will be trusted to make their own health care decisions about whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.

The defeat of DOMA and Prop. 8 means that same-sex couples will be trusted to enter in to committed relationships that will be recognized in 13 states.

While I am certain that there is a lot of frantic activity today to mount offensive attacks on women’s rights to choose and marriage equality, for today I will revel in this news.

Hooray for those who would trust individuals to make their own decisions about their own private lives.


A few things that have made me stop and wonder today:

  • The emails I get in my inbox from my state legislators asking me to chip in $3 to help pass a bill in the House. Example: my state’s Democratic Senator, Patty Murray, whom I support wholeheartedly, managed to help craft a budget proposal that was recently passed in the Senate. This morning, I got an email soliciting money so they can get it passed in the House because they’re anticipating a fight.  Where do those donations go? Am I buying the vocal support of a Senator with my $3? Would they not fight loudly and passionately for that budget anyway since they (presumably) believe in it?  Or am I paying for a a lobbyist’s time to go pester a Congressperson to pass it?  What exactly is my money doing?  I doubt there’s time to put together a media campaign with television and radio advertisements, so I’m confused here.  On top of that, I’m sick of being asked for “just $3 to show my support.” I capitulated during the Presidential campaign, but now I just want the elected officials to sit down and do their damn jobs without expecting more money for them. They get paid. Do the right thing, already, and leave my inbox alone!
  • I was one of those people on Facebook who changed my profile picture to the equal sign that stands for marriage equality for all Americans.  I was happy to do it. Hell, I even spent ten minutes fiddling with the settings on my iPhone to make it happen because I didn’t have my computer with me yesterday morning.  But I have to say, idealist that I am, I hope the multitudes of people who changed their profile pictures don’t have any bearing on the outcome of the case.  Seriously.  I want the justices of the Supreme Court to do their jobs as well and decide the case on its merits.  I want them to listen to the logical arguments (not the frantic speculation of the Christian Coalition that the moral fabric of society will be torn irreparably if we allow gays to marry), discuss the issues, and render a LEGAL decision like they are supposed to.  I don’t want them to poll Americans or look at their Facebook or Twitter feeds.  They are judges. The day we let public opinion influence their decisions is the day we might as well open the doors of the courthouse to lobbyists with their pockets stuffed full of cash.  
  • Eve and her class are attending WeDay today, a celebration of the many acts of philanthropy by school children around the world.  There are 15,000 students from all over the state of Washington attending this amazing event in an effort to learn from each other how to mobilize their own efforts to make the world a better place for us all.  There are corporate sponsors (of course) and actors and philanthropists presenting to drum up excitement and Jennifer Hudson was slated to perform. After two hours of amazing speeches by people who have made substantive change in their own way (including one man who came and told a harrowing story of his time as a child soldier in the Congo), Jennifer Hudson came on stage.  And sang “Night of Your Life.”  I don’t know about you, but I hadn’t ever heard the song and I was confused.  Here are a few of the lyrics:

…My love ain’t easy
You gon’ have to put in some work
You can’t buy me a drink, thinking I’mma fall for your flirt
You gotta make it right
If you wanna go spend some time
You gotta raise the bar tonight…

…So now love me, baby treat me rightAnd we’ll be riding it from morning til midnightIf you love me til the end of timeThen I will promise you the night of your life…

I could have ya, if I wanted toDown on one knee, in front of me where them bells ringingI could claim ya, be your saviorWrap your heart inside of these arms and you’ll never leaveI could have your hands tied, round my body all up on meBoy you’ll be stuck to me, if I wanted with no releaseI’ll have you begging, wishing now I give a piece

 So, tell me, what does that have to do with philanthropy? Giving back to your community? Changing the world?  Seriously? She sang the song, and then walked off stage. Not a word about this room full of students who had to earn tickets to this event by engaging in fundraising efforts for charitable organizations, by working for a cause. And she sings a song about hooking up with a guy in a bar.  I’m glad she asked to be treated right, but the message seems a little cloudy to me.  I can only hope that it gets drowned out by the other, more meaningful ones of the day.