Aside

Birth Control, the Supremes and You.

birth control

SCOTUS has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby. I have seen primarily two types of reactions. On the one hand are my friends who see this as good news, a sort of mandate that will open the door to challenging all sorts of parts of the ACA. On the other hand are my friends who are disappointed with the Court’s decision this morning.

To all my friends, no matter your take on today’s ruling, I offer the following thoughts:

  1. This is a very narrow decision applying only to closely held corporations. A closely held corporation is a corporation where less than 5 individuals hold more than half of the shares. They are private companies and are not publicly held.
  1. This decision leaves the door open for the government to pick up the slack and pay for contraceptives themselves using tax dollars, including the tax dollars of the owners of Hobby Lobby.  Congress could also choose to impose a small tax on large corporations to make up for the coverage. Alito also noted in the majority opinion that employees of these companies could still obtain birth control through an accommodation introduced by President Obama for employees of religiously affiliated nonprofits. This program allows for the insurance companies to provide the coverage while not involving the employer.
  1. Even though Hobby Lobby has won this battle, it may lead to them losing the broader war. Don’t get me wrong; I think it is only a small step in that direction. In other words, someday when we look back at this decision, we may see that it directly contributed to America eventually adopting a single payer system.

BONUS: I do find it interesting that the court was quick to point out that this decision only applies to the birth control mandate and does not apply to other treatments that raise life and death questions, such as vaccinations and blood transfusions. They also made it clear that the ruling was not a free pass for companies to opt out of any law they consider incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Where do I stand personally on the decision of the court today? I will leave you with the words of a woman far more eloquent and learned than I, The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg who said in her blistering dissent,

“In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. “

 

Additional Reading:

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/eggh45efjj/top-20-largest-private-companies-in-america-2/

https://wordofawoman.com/2012/11/14/why-christian-companies-corporate-conscience-should-be-clear/

https://wordofawoman.com/2014/01/24/mike-huckabee-a-lesson-in-missing-the-point/

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I Hope You Find Magic

Image

 

I want to talk to you about love for a minute.

Can you remember the last time someone looked at you like maybe you were magic? Has anyone ever looked at you like that? If not. I hope someday someone does. I wish that for EVERYONE.

Can you remember the last time you looked at someone and thought for a second they might be magic? Maybe they are. Maybe you are. Maybe I am. Maybe all of of us are looking for someone in this life who if just for a split second looks at us and sees something so beautiful that it defies physics and belief and time.

Call me sappy, but people, hold out for that. Hold out lovelies, not for someone who is perfect, or that you agree with on everything or that you never argue with, but hold out for someone who sees magic in you. Someone who you look at and see magic even if no one else does.

I just went and watched the Fault In Our Stars with my daughter. It was stunning and beautiful and I don’t care what anyone says, I loved it and I want my daughter and my son to find a love who looks at them and thinks they might be magic even if they are in the middle of pain that demands to be felt.

Yes, life happens. Yes there dishes and for some, diapers. Yes there is cancer and death and just general fuck-up-ed-ness  that cannot be denied in this life. But it is a privilege to live it. It is a privilege to get to love someone. It is a privilege many never get. So if you find someone like this. Take whatever small infinity* you are allowed and live it with abandon.

*Go see the movie and you will understand what I am talking about. And yes, this movie is for you. I don’t care who you are.

Colorado GOP “Reaches Out” to Women Who Subsequently Overreact Which is Why They Make Less Money Even with Better GPAs (or something like that)

Yesterday the all male GOP candidates for Governor of Colorado decided to have a debate geared toward addressing women’s issues. What could possibly go wrong? Here’s a hint: If you want women to think you see them as equals, you might want to avoid patronizing them by calling them “ornamental” and setting up your Q & A panel in the format of The Dating Game, complete with theme song. Clearly these men are in touch with what women want.  In addition, you may want to actually talk about the issues where the GOP has alienated women.  But as Rebecca Leber pointed out in her article on ThinkProgress.org,

…little of the gubernatorial debate’s substance had anything to do with issues where Republicans have alienated women. Republicans typically find themselves on thin ice when discussing things like birth control, abortion bans, sexual assault prevention, equal pay, and maternity leave. Instead, there were questions about which women they admire (excluding their wives and mothers), creating jobs, and even about oil drilling. 

John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent said in his assessment of the debate that:

…the three candidates — former Congressman Bob Beauprez, former state Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and Secretary of State Scott Gessler — had no specific policy proposals regarding women’s issues and barely mentioned women…

In ColPols.com’s live blogging of the event:

This was billed as a debate centered around “Women and Colorado’s Future,” and it was about as insulting to women as you could get. It would have been difficult to make this look less genuine, though it would have helped — a lot — to not play the theme song of “The Dating Game” after every break. It’s hard to explain how uncomfortable it was in the room every time that song came up and the candidates tried to chuckle about it. What a disaster.

They also included some of the questions and answers:

Next question: How would you deal with Democrats accusing Republicans of waging a “war on women?”

Beauprez: Says 1/3rd of our kids can’t read at a third-grade level. Don’t know what that has to do with this question.

Gessler: “I think we have to take that head-on.” Says Barack Obama and Mark Udall clearly discriminate against women. Says the New York Times just fired a woman as editor in chief. Why those two items are connected is not clear.

Kopp: Brings up Ronald Reagan for the 10th time. If you wonder why Republicans have trouble attracting young voters, it doesn’t help that candidates like Kopp keep bringing up a President who left office in 1988 and has been dead for 10 years.

Or how about this doozie?

“Name a woman you admire, not including your wife or mother.” The fact that the questioner thought this qualifier was needed tells you everything you need to know about this “Women and Colorado’s Future” shtick.

Beauprez: A woman who worked in his bank.

Kopp: There is a woman in this audience (whose name he butchers). Kopp says she is an immigrant from Colombia. Says he calls her “The Colombian Hurricane.”

Gessler: “Helen Keller and Susan B. Anthony.” This could not get any more ridiculous. Asked to name a woman he admires, Gessler can’t even come up with someone who is actually alive today.

Enter this meme posted by a friend today on Facebook:

 

newton

Do you see how maddening this is? If you are a woman and do not laugh these things off, or if you respond to it in a negative way at all, you will be labeled as an “overreacting female” and they will say, “See? This meme is truth.” Arrrrg. No, this meme is misogynistic hogwash. This time the meme in question was posted by a male friend of mine. However, I have seen very similar ones posted by WOMEN in my feed. DO NOT EVEN GET ME STARTED. These women are akin to the women who agreed to take part in a panel that treated them like they couldn’t relate to a panel discussion unless it was set up as A DATING SHOW. But wait, maybe I am just OVERREACTING to the clear efforts of these fine gentlemen to make politics more fun and understandable for us lady folks    .

Perhaps all this overreacting explains the article I read yesterday. Clearly this is the reason women who earn 4.0 GPAs in high school earn roughly the same amount of money as men who earned 2.25 GPAs in high school.

GPA-Earnings-Chart-600x310

 

Please tell me again how there is no pay gap or war on women and how exactly I am overreacting?

 

Why is This Kiss News?

controversial_kisses_trek

 

Oh wait, that’s not the picture everyone was talking about? Nope, it isn’t. But it might as well have been. More about that later… Yesterday, someone (or rather, many someones) asked the above question on the interwebz beneath a picture of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend when he was selected by the Rams. “Why is this news?” The collective cry went up on social media. People called it all the usual descriptors “disgusting” and “abomination” being among the favorites. Some people lamented that “There are children watching.” Some wondered, “Why would ESPN would show such a thing?” And again many asked, “Why is this kiss news?”

 

jackie-robinson-e1399921380815Why is it news you ask? I’ll tell you why it’s news. First, it is news for the same reason Captain Kirk kissing Lieutenant Uhura was news; it makes people uncomfortable. It makes people uncomfortable now the same way it made people uncomfortable when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. People say the same things: it will ruin team chemistry; it will make the locker room awkward; it just isn’t natural. As far as the first two go, if you have played a sport or participated in gym class or belonged to a health club, you have already shared a locker room with LGBT people. Get over it. If you are worried about it, here is the link to a very handy article published by The Huffington Post a while back called, How to Behave Around Your Gay Teammate in the Locker Room. As for the last one, “it isn’t natural”, tell that to the 9 million people in the U.S. who identify as LGBT and the 1,500 species of animals that exhibit homosexual behaviors.

Second, it is news for the same reason as it is news when any other public figure (and sometimes regular folks) kisses…9 times out of 10 they are celebrating something. Think about it. People kiss when wars end. People kiss when their team wins. People kiss when they win anything: awards, games, elections, promotions…anything. People kiss when they have a baby and when they get married. People even kiss on the cheek to greet friends or when they are introduced at a party. People also kiss for weird reasons and make the news: when there are riots, when they start college or when they set world records. People kiss. It makes the news. It happens, literally literally (just for you Josh Mitchell) every day. Just most of the time people don’t notice because it doesn’t make them uncomfortable. I am hoping someday soon the picture of Michael Sam and his boyfriend kissing will seem as normal as these pictures of other athletes celebrating their victories…

 

kel brookSanyaRichardsRoss:aaron ross St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Pujols kisses his wife Deidre after the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to win MLB's World Series baseball championship in St. Louis Chris Bosch Short Track Speed Skating - Winter Olympics Day 3 kyle busch bubbawatson Elway

Or these politicians…

inaugral ball mitt romneyLauraPresKiss

Or these entertainers…

SJP and MB at Oscars Perry:brand grammys brad and angie SAG awards jayz-and-beyonce-pda-kiss-grammy-awards-2014-lead matthew mcconaughey best actor oscar

Or these everyday people…

Vancouver_riot_kissing_couple vj

Listen lovelies, people like kissing (we even like pictures of animals “kissing”). They like to kiss and be kissed. And yes, many even like to see other people kiss. I have a theory as to why. Kissing is an outward sign that love still exists. Kissing means there is still hope for humanity; there is still hope that we can love and be loved. It is a sign that there are still things worth celebrating. And in times of uncertainty and fear, kissing is a sign that love can still win. For me that is what the Michael Sam kiss and all these other kisses represent. And that my friends is why kissing and this specific kiss are news. Good news.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2014/05/10/michael_sam_kiss_the_st_louis_rams_pick_the_openly_gay_missouri_star_in.html

World Vision vs Hobby Lobby

world-vision

 

Today in court Hobby Lobby is asserting that because certain owners of the company are Christians,  the for profit business is also “Christian” and should be allowed to forego supplying coverage that goes against their conscience, i.e. birth control. They feel this way because they believe some types of birth control can be abortifacient. Rather than allowing women and their doctors to discuss all the options available and decide on the best course of action, Hobby Lobby would also like to make sure the insurance they provide does not even cover such discussions if they involve the types of birth control they disapprove of. Nevermind the fact that they sell thousands of products made in China, a country which encourages (and sometimes mandates) abortion if it is necessary to maintain the one child policy. Forget about the fact that employees can use the money they are paid (by Hobby Lobby) to engage in other activities (sins) the owners may feel offend their conscience when they are off the clock (or shall we also allow them to decide how their employees spend that money as well, perhaps the employees should have to provide expense receipts to justify their choices so that Hobby Lobby can avoid inadvertently financing what they consider sinful activities). Perhaps they should just set up an old school company store and employees could live in a company town where only Hobby Lobby approved, sin free products and activities are condoned. Sorry for the snark, but honestly, it is just nuts.

Do they not understand that contributing to the cost of an employee’s government mandated health care plan which may or may not mean they choose a birth control method they disapprove of is NO DIFFERENT than giving them a paycheck that the employee then uses to buy the EXACT SAME type of birth control? It is the same money! It came from the same place! You bear the exact same responsibility for the employee’s choice of birth control and you should have the exact same amount of say in that choice…NONE!

Hobby Lobby’s supporters also say, as do all the defenders of the various “turn away the gay” laws, that they are merely fighting for their constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.  In the decision written by Chief Justice Waite, however, the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States ruled that “Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order,” and that allowing people (and in this case Hobby Lobby) to do so “would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances.” Personally, this is why I am confident (and will be extremely disappointed if the Court comes back with any other decision) that the Supreme Court will rule for the government in this case.

In other news, yesterday World Vision, a Christian non-profit agency whose mission is providing “emergency assistance to children and families affected by natural disasters and civil conflict, work[ing] with communities to develop long-term solutions to alleviate poverty, and advocat[ing] for justice on behalf of the poor, set the evangelical world on fire by stating that:

…since World Vision is a multi-denominational organization that welcomes employees from more than 50 denominations, and since a number of these denominations in recent years have sanctioned same-sex marriage for Christians, the board—in keeping with our practice of deferring to church authority in the lives of our staff, and desiring to treat all of our employees equally—chose to adjust our policy. Thus, the board has modified our Employee Standards of Conduct to allow a Christian in a legal same-sex marriage to be employed at World Vision.

Since World Vision’s announcement, the evangelical world has their knickers in a twist.  Benjamin L. Corey sarcastically translated the collective twitter rants on Formerly Fundie:

“I have sponsored this child for many years now and built a relationship with them. Yes, I know that this is a specific child with a real name and real story who will miss my letters. I know that this child may end up dying from lack of access to clean water or medicine without my help. I understand that without the education my donation provides, this child is at high risk of a life of trafficking and exploitation. Yes, I know that my donation makes sure they get three square meals a day and that without it, they’re going to be hungry. But, I simply must abandon this child now that I realize Janice from accounting has a wife.”

The best (and by best I mean worst) part of the comments for me are the folks who say it is World Vision’s fault that these kids are going to go without now. They have no choice but to pull their support. WOW. Really? You really only give money to people who agree with you 100% on what is sin and what isn’t or do you only give money to the people who sin like you do? I mean come on, isn’t that what it comes down to? Many of us would prefer that people only committed the “sins” we are comfortable with. But wait, we are talking unrepentant sin here. Really? How about we stop contributing money to organizations who hire people who are gluttons? Maybe we should stop giving money to organizations that hire people who are divorced and remarried? Or having sex before marriage (none of us have done that, right? Oh snap, some of us have.)  So here we sit, World Vision tries to be inclusive of all of the beliefs of the 50 denominations of people they employ and THEY are cutting off the kids? If only Jesus had given us some clear direction in all of this, then we might know what to do. Oh wait, he did.

These arguments would be simpler if only Jesus had said something like “Whatever you did for the least of these you did for me” #WorldVision

— Micah J. Murray (@micahjmurray) March 25, 2014

As Kristen Howerton said on her post on Rage Against the Minivan,

Is access to food, water, and education trumped by keeping gay people out of a job at a nonprofit? If we want to serve people, we should not make distinctions about who we serve, and we should not deny those we serve out of disunity or division. It’s astounding to me that Christians would take food from starving children because a gay person might have helped in getting it there…I’m also just so, so dismayed that this is yet another instance in which Christians are telling the world that their feelings about gay people are stronger than their compassion. That their anger over gay employees is greater than their anger over starving children.

I cannot for the life of me understand people who would rather see all Hobby Lobby employees lose their jobs (the owners have threatened to close their stores if they lose) to protect the religious sensibilities of the owners (who coincidentally also sin) than see some of their employees be allowed their choice of birth control (some of which Hobby Lobby deem sinful). These are the same people who would rather have the child they sponsor be left wondering why they were dropped than continue allowing World Vision to use their funds to be the hands and feet of Jesus because the dude who is in charge of bringing clean water to villages in developing countries is married to a man named Jim instead of a woman named Jane.  Jesus wept.

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There are tons of ways to help World Vision. You can fund a microloan, sponsor a child, provide disaster relief, buy handmade gifts for friends, or choose any one of several items to give from their catalog including water wells, anti-trafficking aid, farm animals, schooling and many many more. Please go visit WorldVision.org and lend your support today.

Don’t ask me if you can marry my daughter.

purityballMy husband never asked my father’s permission to marry me. We also didn’t ask for his blessing. Not only that, I have a feeling if Kent would have asked him he would have said it wasn’t his decision to make.

Because it wasn’t.

It was mine. My life was mine to join to someone else’s. My future was in my hands. My heart was mine to give.

Once Kent and I decided that we were going to get married we told both my parents together. Simple.

My parents, wise as they are, knew that even though they had given me life, raised me and protected me, they did not have ownership of my heart and could not give the naming rights to whomever they chose as if I were a sports arena. They knew that even though they had dreams for me, and thoughts about how my life would turn out, those were not necessarily my dreams for myself. They knew that they had raised me to be independent, wise and trustworthy and they knew that they had given me more and more freedom to make choices, to try and fail and to try and succeed. They knew that if at some point I found the one person I wanted to give my heart to, that they had already done what they could to help me make the best choice. They knew that if I wanted advice I would ask them for it. And I did. Plenty. But they also knew, lovelies, that it was my decision to make. My heart. My future. My life. My choice.

Recently the topic of so called “Purity Balls” (hee hee) has been back in the news. (I think maybe because it is spring? Not really sure. Is that when these things traditionally take place? Or possibly on Father’s Day (um, ewww)? Thank God I don’t know from first hand experience.) The first ball was put on by the Wilson family in Colorado Springs in 1998. Randy Wilson is a field director for the Family Research Council, which was originally part of Focus on the Family until 1992. The recent Nightline feature which ran March 22nd, featured Randy Wilson, Ron Johnson, the Pastor of Living Stones Church in Indiana and their daughters. Johnson, is quoted in the program as saying to the young women (who typically range in age from 9-14),  “You keep this [ring] on your finger and as this point you are married to the Lord and your father is your boyfriend.” Seriously? Seriously? Does this creep anyone else the eff out?

The Balls, according to Wilson’s Generations of Light web page, now take place in 48 states. The ceremonies themselves resemble wedding receptions. The fathers give the daughters a ring (often they wear a ring themselves that they later gift to the future husband at the wedding), there is a father daughter dance, the girls wear white dresses and the father and daughter exchange pledges. The amazing thing to me is that these balls are considered “godly” events by their participants.

On Saturday night I shared this story with my Dad. He was disgusted and appalled and I thank God every day that I was raised by a father (and mother) who respected me as an individual, and never believed it was his job to be my “boyfriend” and who never taught me that I, individually, was to be married to Jesus. Ewwwwwww.

I am proud to say, my husband and I are carrying on the proud tradition my parents started. We are our daughter’s parents, we are raising her to be strong, brave, independent, discerning and trustworthy. When the time comes I hope we don’t know about her proposal before she does. If her future spouse does come to us first, I know exactly what I will say, “She is not mine to give. Her heart is her own. You will need to ask her. It is her choice.”

 

Mike Huckabee: A Lesson in Missing the Point

Dear Mr. Huckabee,

Yesterday you gave a speech in which you said,

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” Huckabee said at the RNC winter meeting. “Let’s take that discussion all across America.”

May I respectfully submit that you are thoroughly and completely missing the point of the conversation. Let’s start with the subject at hand: the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraceptive coverage. There are many points being made by the Democrats about this coverage, none of which is that “women are helpless” and “cannot control their libido or reproductive system” without the help of the government. Personally I resent the statement that women who want their private insurance companies to be required to cover birth control are akin to having a sugar daddy. Mr. Huckabee, if your goal with this speech was to dispel the myth that there is a war on women, you are doing it wrong.

Up until recently, I have been a life-long Republican. It amazes me that there isn’t a meeting where someone from Party HQ sits every candidate and elected official down and says, listen, “STOP TALKING ABOUT WOMEN AND SEX AND BODY PARTS. It never goes well for us.” Honestly, what is amazing to me is that when you sat down to write this speech with your speech writers and advisors, you all thought this sounded like something that would play well with American women. Heck, my guess is that this line of bs doesn’t even go over well with most Republican women.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in a middle class American home. As I said before, I have been a life-long Republican until recently. I am 44 and have been married since I was 18 years old (26 years – thought I’d save you the math). I come from a military family and my father is a decorated retired Air Force Colonel. My husband and I waited 13 years to get pregnant with our first child. I have 2 beautiful children and 1 lost to miscarriage. I have never had an abortion (not that it is any of your business). My husband was the first in his family to graduate from college and now holds a JD from Pepperdine University. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from The University of Texas at Arlington. We did not always live as comfortably as we do now. When we were young, my husband and I had to rely on Planned Parenthood for free/low cost birth control pills. Thank God for them. At the time we had no health insurance and the cost of going to an Ob/Gyn and the prescription was just more than we had. I want you to know a few things, Mr. Huckabee,

  1. I did not need “Uncle Sugar” to help me control my libido.  I was married.
  2. I was, by going to Planned Parenthood, controlling my reproductive system.
  3. I was not helpless, but I would have been without the services provided to me by Planned Parenthood.
  4. My husband and I knew we were not ready to be parents, but we would have been forced to practice less effective methods of birth control were it not for PP.

Sir, I understand you do not personally think I needed the government to control my libido, etc., but you think that the Democrats do. YOU ARE AGAIN MISSING THE POINT. The point is…

Providing women with free/low cost Ob/Gyn care and birth control empowers them to be able to follow through on exercising wise and informed family planning. Also, studies show that providing free birth control actually REDUCES ABORTIONS. And isn’t that something we can agree on?

I personally am done having babies and using birth control. However, I am happy to pay my ACA health plan premiums so that other women and families can be provided the services I was, but at their doctor’s office instead of Planned Parenthood. Why, when women just want to be responsible with their choices, do you not want to help them do so? As far as I can tell, you want to do away with the ACA and Planned Parenthood. What then, sir, are we as women supposed to do when we cannot afford a health plan that covers Ob/Gyn care as well as birth control? Have an abortion? I don’t think any of us want that. Have a baby when we cannot afford one or take care of one? Doesn’t that just cause more family and societal issues? What about adoption? What if every woman who has used birth control to prevent a pregnancy since the advent of modern contraception had just had all those babies and given them up for adoption? That would be MILLIONS of babies. Do you honestly think we would have homes for them all? We would have to go back to having orphanages. Not everyone would be able to afford to take care of those children, especially since younger people are most likely to be on birth control. Some of us would not have been able to finish college. And that would add even more people to the welfare system. Perhaps you think women should only have sex when they are prepared to have a baby and that couples should have as many children as God gives them. That is up to you and your wife; you get to make that choice. When and how others choose to plan their families is not up to you. With all due respect, butt out.