Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

image

  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

Advertisements

Would you take dating advice from this man?

lookadoo

The Richardson Independent School District in north Dallas apparently thinks you should. Yesterday the  RISD brought in “motivational speaker” Justin Lookadoo to talk to its high school students about dating and relationships. In their defense, Justin is scheduled to speak at schools all over the United States and Canada this year. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.

You see, Justing has some very outdated, sexist advice for our young people.

Mr. Lookadoo is unabashedly christian (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As you know if you have been here very long, I am a follower of Jesus) however he leaves Biblical references out of his public school presentations. If you go on the Texas Speaker’s Bureau and look up Mr. Lookadoo you will find this description:

  • Top Texas Student Speaker
  • A high-energy, relevant message for the A.D.D. Generation

Justin Lookadoo is a top Texas school speaker. He was a Juvenile Probation Officer, and spent nearly six years as a Crime Prevention Specialist.  He knows students have it rough, and understands where they are coming from.  Justin is bilingual, offering programs in Spanish and English. Justin loves to talk. Go figure! He has been speaking to groups since 1989 and is excellent at what he does. To date, he has given over 3,000 speeches nationally and internationally. Just like Michael Jordan has the gift of being a great athlete, Justin has the gift of being a great speaker. And he works hard at it too! He is always researching and finding the edge that will make his programs current and relevant. Justin is a #1 bestselling author for his book Dateable and has had three other studient-oriented self-help books on the bestseller lists. Two of his books have been nominated for the prestigious Gold Medallion Award and he has sold over 275,000 books nationwide. Not bad for a kid whose two worst subjects were reading and writing.

Judging from this description, as an administrator I would think, what’s not to like? After all, he is to public speaking what Michael Jordan is to basketball. (*eye roll alert*) HOWEVER all one needs to do to find out this is a potential disaster is to search The Google and  look up his books on Amazon.com. Without even reading the reviews you will find out on Amazon that the back cover of “Datable” has these fun facts:

Girls, did you know?
– Guys will lie to you to get what they want
– If he’ll do it for you, he’ll do it to you
– If he doesn’t call it doesn’t mean he hates you
– A guy will treat you like you are dressed
– You might be talking too much
– He doesn’t want sex with you because he loves you, he wants it ‘cuz you’re a girl and you’re willing
– Guys love a mystery

Guys, did you know?
– If you’re too scared to ask her, then you’re not man enough to go out with her
– Girls will lie to themselves to get what they want
– Girls love it when you plan things
– You control how far you go
– Girls have their own kind of porn
– You can be a “real man” without becoming a “bad boy”
– Girls don’t understand you

On the Google you will learn that Lookadoo has a website (which was made available to the students) called rudatable.com (are you datable?). There you will see that there is a second book called “The Datable Rules” in which guys will learn to “live the adventure and to risk it all for God” and girls will learn “the importance of mystery and the power of subtle beauty”. Oh great, once again the boys get to have adventures and excitement. They get to write the script. And girls get to learn how to keep quiet and not draw too much attention to themselves. At this point I have to ask WHY? Why in the world would any public school have a man in to teach the students about dating and relationships whose book comes down to, men are the architects of their own lives and women are the furnishings. Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

If you are so bold as to continue on at rudatable.com you will find that you are invited to take a quiz to see how datable you are. Apparently if you buy the book you can actually determine your datability rating on a scale of 1 to 5 stars! Justin himself has a 4 and a half star rating. If you make it through the silly true/false quiz and come out datable on the other side you will be encouraged to commit to “the list”. What list? I’m glad you asked. It is the same for both genders: 1. Be respectful at all times. 2. Treat your date like you want to be treated. 3. No means no.  Oh wait. Snap. Wrong list.

The girls list says: (my comments in parenthesis after)

As a Dateable girl I will:
1. Shut up and be mysterious (in other words STFU, no one cares what you have to say or if you want to say it, no one like a girl who talks to much…sorry this one hits a little close to home)
2. Not lie to myself (I learned the rest of this is “girls lie to themselves to get what they want”)
3. Keep it covered up (What is it? Where is the line? What if I don’t? See my many previous posts.)
4. Remember that I’m not one of the guys (What the hell? What is wrong with being “one of the guys”?)
5. Know that it will not last (What won’t last? This one just confuses me.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God please help me stifle who I am to get a man. Goodness knows no one will like me for who I am or if I have too strong/too many opinions. Amen.)

The boys list says:

As a Dateable guy I will:
1. Stand up and be a real man (WTH does this mean? Who sets the definition? I am sure he will tell me in the book.)
2. Not lie to you or for you (Guys, he says, lie to you to get what they want. Also, girls apparently will want you to lie for them. Why? I’m not sure.)
3. Control how far we go (So it is up to the guy alone to determine how far things go physically? Hmm. Shouldn’t that really be a shared responsibility? Also see “no means no” above.)
4. Open doors and pull out chairs (Nice gesture.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God, Please help me be a “real man” even though I am not sure what that means. Amen)

A few more nuggets of wisdom I learned with minimal research:

“Men of God are wild, not domesticated.  They don’t live by the rules of the opposite sex. ”

“Datable girls know when to shut up.”

Datable guys know…”They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay.”

“Please, PLEASE don’t tease us. To show us your hot little body and then tell us we can’t touch it is being a tease.”

“Dateable girls know that guys need to be needed. A Dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent.”

Accept your girly-ness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.”

I think this whole line of thinking is damaging not just to girls but also to boys. I cannot for the life of me figure out why schools (and before you say, oh well Michelle, you live in Texas blah, blah, blah… This dude speaks all over the country. In public schools. At camps. At Juvenile detention facilities. ) would ever dream of inviting this guy in to speak. Don’t even get me started on what kind of message this sends to LGBT youth.

Sadly, it takes the students themselves to tell it like it is. Wednesday in Richardson #lookadouche was trending on twitter (today it is trending everywhere).  Here are a few tweets from the students of the RISD:

@jkredmon
A man gets to tell us what women can and can’t do. I don’t think so. Not at RHS. #lookadouche

@InGodsArmy
Either the best prank ever or the best attempt at reverse psychology to unite an entire student body. Regardless, fire ignited. #lookadouche

@emisccaffetti7
#lookadouche has many problems in the head.
@BmanToler23h
Don’t let some random guy who spoke at school with no ethos determine how you feel about yourself or objectify you. #rhs #lookadouche
@GreenEyedLilo
As a woman w/food allergies, I love that Justin Lookadoo thinks we should suffer in restaurants instead of telling our dates.
@irishfries13
still shocked at @JustinLookadoo ‘s presentation, gender stereotypes all around #lookadouche
@NateBeer
At this rate, our speaker on Friday will be Ritchie Incognito
@Megeramarie
I love that RISD has a no tolerance on bullying and they brought in a bully to motivate us.
These few tweets represent many many more which you can find for yourself on twitter at #lookadouche. These young men and women have renewed my hope that the tide against this kind of thinking is growing and that young people are beginning to recognize that this type of thinking helps no one and in fact hurts us all. Way to go Richardson Eagles. You guys rock. Way to stand up and speak out. #ROAR

The Universal Right to Be Human

Copyright ZenPencils.com

Today is Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is HUMAN RIGHTS.

According to the ZenPencils website, who designed the above poster:

After the horror of World War II, the United Nations was formed in 1945. The UN charter’s main two objectives are ‘to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’ and ‘to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.’ In 1946, the UN Commission on Human Rights was established. Chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, the commission drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948 ‘as a common standard of achievement for all people and nations’. Today, it is the job of the Human Rights Council, an important body of the United Nations, to promote and protect people’s human rights around the world.

When I read the rights enumerated in the Declaration, It strikes me as sad that it is called a “Universal Declaration” rather than a Universal Statement of the Obvious. Sadly, in the world today. I don’t know of any country, including the United States, where all of these rights are fully embraced.  What is perhaps even more overwhelming is that even in countries where most if not all of these rights are embraced, many people who will claim these rights for themselves, deny them to others in their heart.

I would like to propose that these rights, listed above, represent the famous line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
In the scriptures it says in Ephesians 1:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

This passage says that because of God’s grace, he makes known to us his will, which is to bring everything into unity with himself. When we embrace the rights enumerated in this declaration, we participate in God’s plan to bring peace, love and hope to every corner of humanity.

Today I embrace what I like to call the Universal Right to Be Human. Isn’t that really the core of the issue? We each have a right to be human. To be seen by the other as equal. And isn’t that where the breakdown occurs? When people see the other as less human, less valuable, less equal than themselves? When you see someone else as less human/equal than you, it is much easier to mistreat them or deny them the same rights you enjoy. You and I have a right to be fully human and to embrace the freedom that comes with these rights. And, as we all know from Eleanor Roosevelt, “With great freedom, comes great responsibility.” You and I also have the responsibility to see that these rights are afforded to everyone we come in contact with; personally, locally, federally, globally and universally.

I know it is a big ass job. I know that sometimes it seems like an impossible task. But I for one am willing to use whatever voice I have, including this blog, to further these rights. As I said in a previous post, where I likened the dawn of change to the unfurling of a giant flag at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies where people grab a loop and run across the field revealing the banner:

Now, imagine all of us, men and women, young and old with Jesus in the middle, our hands on the loops of the terminator of history running like hell for the horizon pulling the light of the new dawn across the whole surface of the earth. Do you hear us? Shouting and singing and proclaiming justice for the oppressed and freedom for the captives? C’mon. Grab a loop and run with us. And look! He is making all things new.

Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, I invite you to stand with me as we proclaim the right to be human in every corner of the world. For me my faith compels me to speak justice, to love mercy, to proclaim forgiveness, hope and freedom. If we pray his will be done and then do nothing to see it happen, what good is that? Are we not his hands and feet?

So there is an article about the “8 Reasons to NOT send your daughter to College” on the interwebs and it makes my head want to explode.

Photo © News4Education

Photo © News4Education

Here is a link to the article (which I heard about from David Hayward and his thought-provoking cartoons of awesomeness) should you be interested in having your brain leak out your ear… 8 Reasons to NOT Send Your Daughter to College.

It is full of gems like #1 She will attract the wrong types of men.  or #3 She will not learn to be a wife and mother.

I. JUST. CANNOT. EVEN.

As you can imagine, my first instinct was to write a snark filled response going through each item one at a time.

example: #1 You mean like college educated men who value her for something more than her tuna casserole recipe or her child-bearing hips? See, not a good idea. Not loving.

I also thought about just reposting the list with the gender pronouns reversed.

example (emphasis added):
His: “So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?  This is no small matter we’re dealing with here.  Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter’s purity, dignity, and soul?  Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey [notice this is a FEMALE doctor who presumably went to a TON of college] notes that a woman is naturally very observant of a man’s faults as long as she is in a platonic relationship with him.  Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him.”
Mine: So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there?  This is no small matter we’re dealing with here.  Is a degree worth the loss of your SON’S purity, dignity, and soul?  Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey notes that a man is naturally very observant of a woman’s faults as long as he is in a platonic relationship with her.  Once he becomes sexually active with her, he releases hormones that mask her faults, and he remains in a dreamy state about her.

Instead lovelies, I am simply going to give you EIGHT 20 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY SEND YOUR DAUGHTER (and son for that matter) TO COLLEGE.

  1. A college education will provide her opportunities to learn and experience things she may not otherwise be exposed to.  College provides not only classroom learning opportunities, but also opportunities to meet people from other cultures and faith backgrounds, which will make her world simultaneously bigger in her understanding and smaller in that she will make personal connections with people from around the country and the world. When she spends time with people different from herself it will make her richer and helps her realize that the image of God is present in all people.
  2. A college education will teach her to question things she has been taught are truth. This is always good because all truth is God‘s truth and truth has nothing to fear of questions.
  3. A college education will give her the confidence and security of knowing that come what may she can take care of herself. This will give her the power to leave an abusive relationship, survive the breakup of her marriage (God forbid), help to provide for her family, or provide completely if her husband dies.
  4. A college education means that she is more likely to marry, to stay married and to be happy in her marriage. She is also more likely not to say the #1 benefit of marriage is financial security.
  5. A college education will help her find her passion in life and help her to pursue her dreams even if that passion and dream is to be a stay at home mom.
  6. A college education will open doors to her that would otherwise be closed and she will be able to earn more money for any job she takes.
  7. Her children (your beautiful grandchildren) will be happier, healthier and more likely to get an education themselves. For example, obesity rates for children of college educated people are approximately 1/2 of that of the children of high school graduates.
  8. Education is its own reward. Your daughters as well as your sons will benefit far beyond their ability to get a job.
  9. The unemployment rate for people with a college degree is half of what it is for people with a high school diploma and one-third of what it is for people who didn’t graduate from high school.
  10. She will be less likely to smoke. “The percentage of four-year college graduates who smoked declined from 14% to 9%, while the rate for high school graduates declined from 29% to 27%.”

  11. She will be less likely to be obese and will be in generally better health. According to BMC Health and Carnegie Mellon, A high level of education has been linked to lower blood pressure and that college degree holders have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, compared to people with less education. Also according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, men and women who earned a college degree are also at a lower risk of developing colorectal, prostate, lung and breast cancer.
  12. She will be more likely to have health insurance coverage. (According to a 2008 report by the College Board, nearly 70 percent of college graduates had employer-provided health insurance, while only 50 percent of high school graduates had benefits.)
  13. She is more likely to report high job satisfaction according to the Education Pays survey.
  14. If she is college educated she is more likely to marry someone who is college educated. When both parents are college graduates, their children (your grand babies, God bless them) will be more likely to go to college and reap all these benefits. It is a cycle of awesomeness.
  15. She is less likely to be incarcerated. Only  .1% of all college graduates are incarcerated compared with 2% of the general population.
  16. She is more likely to volunteer and will spend more hours doing it. According to the Education Pays survey:

    “Among college graduates, the volunteer rate is 46 percent, over twice the 22 percent rate for high school graduates.”and”Among those who volunteer, the median number of volunteer hours increases with educational attainment, with the 46 percent of college graduates who volunteer averaging 60 hours during the year, compared to 52 hours for those with some college, and 48 hours for high school graduates and for the adults with less than a high school diploma who volunteer their time.”

  17. She will be more likely to vote and have her voice and concerns represented. Again, according to Education Pays:

    In the 2000 presidential election, 74 percent of U.S. citizens who were college graduates between the ages of 25 and 44 reported voting, compared to 45 percent of high school graduates. Among citizens between the ages of 65 and 74, 86 percent of college graduates and 72 percent of high school graduates reported voting.

  18. She will be almost 3 times as likely to donate blood to help others.
  19. According to the CDC she will live longer; almost 9 years longer than people without a high school diploma and about 7 years longer than those with only a high school diploma.
  20. And believe it or not, she is more likely to attend worship services regularly. A survey from the Association of Religious Data Archives shows that college graduates are the educational group that’s most likely to regularly attend weekly worship services.

So yeah, today happened and it was good.

179745_10151545572514582_1652368408_nDOMA is dead and marriage is coming back to California. And while we could move on to what comes next, which states still do not have marriage equality (on a state level) and the numerous haters out there, instead I would like to give voice and blog space to those I know who have shared their feelings today and several heartwarming or poignant or just factual things I have seen around the interwebs. This is my own personal celebration.

Let’s start with the statement of the Department of Defense:

 The Department of Defense welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Defense of Marriage Act.  The department will immediately begin the process of implementing the Supreme Court’s decision in consultation with the Department of Justice and other executive branch agencies.  The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation — as soon as possible.  That is now the law and it is the right thing to do.

Every person who serves our nation in uniform stepped forward with courage and commitment.  All that matters is their patriotism, their willingness to serve their country, and their qualifications to do so.  Today’s ruling helps ensure that all men and women who serve this country can be treated fairly and equally, with the full dignity and respect they so richly deserve.

My friend Eric Herring was on the steps of the US Supreme Court today where he shot this video:

Eric’s video from the SCOTUS steps

From Sheryl LeSage (a friend of a friend) via Facebook:

I had managed to convince myself that it really didn’t matter that much, because my relationship with Jocy Denton is real no matter what a bunch of old people in black dresses say about it. And I told myself I would just check in to see what they said, but again, it wouldn’t change my life. And I am not the sort of person to get over-emotional about things.

But I’m not kidding here: I actually shouted out and burst into tears when they handed that decision down. I STILL have tears in my eyes. DOMA has been a thorn under the saddle for two decades, declaring me a less-than-equal citizen in this country. To have that lie officially removed from the books is like having the sun come from behind the clouds, at last.

So yes, it’s personal. And it’s a good thing.

From my friend Elliot Fladen via Rhett Millsaps II (http://wakingupnow.com/blog/the-happy-stories-begin):

“This is what excites me most about this partial equality victory: “At 10:30 a.m. EDT this morning in a New York Immigration Court, attorneys from [Masliah Soloway] requested and were granted a continuance in removal (deportation) proceedings for a Colombian gay man married to an American citizen for whom [they] had filed a marriage-based green card petition last year. A copy of the 77-page Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor was delivered to the court by [their] summer intern, Gabe, who ran five blocks and made it in time for the decision to be submitted to the Immigration Judge and to serve a copy on the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Assistant Chief Counsel. DOMA is DEAD and it had its first impact on a binational couple within 30 minutes of the Supreme Court ruling.”

Post by my amazing husband Kent Krabill:

Powerful language from the Court today: DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state – sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities. By creating two contradictory marriage regimes within the same State, DOMA forces same-sex couples to live as married for the purpose of state law but unmarried for the purpose of federal law, thus diminishing the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect. By this dynamic DOMA under¬mines both the public and private significance of state ¬sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, 539 U. S. 558, and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.

Rights and stuff:  After DOMA: What it Means to You

Edith Windsor’s reaction and the 40+ year love story that inspired it:

971315_623734884304160_1930834219_n(1)

From my friend Liz Dyer via Facebook:

Thanks to the friends and family who have continued to show their loving support of my efforts to make the world a better place for lgbt people (you know who you are).

My passion about this started out because of my wonderful son who is gay but over the last several years I have gained so many friends that have been affected by the injustice and oppression of lgbt people and so these days in addition to this being about my son I am also driven by the faces and stories and hearts of so many more that hope and work for equality.

Today is an important day because today many people have been able to take back some of the human dignity that has been stolen from them and therefore their hope and courage and strength is being renewed so we can all go on to continue fighting for equality (there’s still work to be done).

As my son likes to say (it’s a movie quote of course LOL) “One day can make your life; one day can ruin your life. All life is, is four or five big days that change everything” and today is one of those days that can change everything.

President Obama:

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well….The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

My friend Emily Allen:

Never have I been so personally affected by decisions of the Supreme Court. I’m glad that my boys won’t remember these first four months of their lives when their government — the government I serve every day — didn’t think their moms had a relationship deserving of respect and of dignity. We still have a long way to go, but today…today was a good day. I love you Laura, Ben, and Will.

My friend Melissa Sligh:

5 years ago I got engaged, bought my dress and started planning my first wedding (I eloped before), then Prop 8 came along too fast, before we could get married it became illegal again in a blink of an eye. I saved my dress and outgrew it in a fat n happy life. MAYBE the true reason I got sick and lost all this weight was so I could fit my dress again! Sooo we missed the chance last time, if marriage becomes legal in California again I EXPECT her to propose and marry me. 5 years is a long friggin engagement!

My friend Mytaege Anderson:

There is so much anger & judgement going around today with the recent political news. Seriously it just makes me sad. Love is Love!!! People are people & it’s not my place to judge anyone. My sins are no better than yours they are just different. But make no mistake sin is sin. The day I can honestly say I’ve gone even this very one day & not sinned ever just once, then maybe I will fell worthy enough to judge another……. But that day will never happen. Why? Because I’m human. God doesn’t love me because I’m straight because I’m Italian because my eyes are brown, I live in America or even because I am pretty damn awesome. He loves me because I am his child!!! There is NOTHING I can do that will ever change that or ever change his love for me or anyone else on the face of this earth. People say God’s heart is breaking because of politics. Wrong! It’s breaking because of the hate that surrounds politics. People are people & Love is Love. Stop judging & spreading hate! If you want people to know God share his hope, his peace, the amazing gift he gave each of us, his LOVE!

My friends Tracey Hughes & Liz Johnson when describing their wedding ceremony. They are also a bi-racial couple. After today’s decisions they are planning to renew their vows in California soon!

Liz Johnson Mary – we jumped the broom. Tracey will no doubt write more eloquently than I will, but slaves were not able to legally marry, so their ceremony included jumping a broom – from the past into the future, so, since we also could not legally marry, we decided to jump the broom too.

And This. Just this.

I love gay people and I love Christians. I choose all.

David & Jason can finally be together FOR GOOD.

Missing Husband Video

Today was a victory for all of us because here in America we have a Pledge, a Declaration and a Constitution. It says in our pledge, “Liberty and justice for all.” It says in our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And as it says in our Constitution, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Today the Supreme Court’s decision aligned us more with who our documents say we are. Today I am proud.

The Bible trumps the law of the United States?

HI heard a conservative radio personality say this yesterday when I turned the dial to am to hear the traffic report. Wait? Whaaaaat???

Now if you are a Christian and I know many of you are, this may sound like a no brainer to you. “Of course the Bible supersedes the law of the United States! Or any country. And it should!”, you say. Well, I respectfully say, it absolutely should not. Before you go spray painting a big ol’ H for heretic on my chest, hear me out…

I do not worship the Bible. I worship the living God. The Bible is here to make known Jesus, and Jesus makes known the Father. The Holy Spirit convicts me of my sin and righteousness and teaches me (among many other things). When you tell me that the Bible supersedes the law of the United States, and that we should strive and work to make “what the Bible says” law. I start breaking out in hives. I mean, as my husband so eloquently asked this morning, “My question to you is, whose interpretation of “the bible and the Word of God” should “trump the laws of this country”? David Koresh’s? Pat Robertson’s? Mine? Yours? And how would this actually work? Congress passes a law, and then we appeal to the Supreme Court because we feel it conflicts with the “bible and the Word of God”? Please explain how you feel this is workable.” Or maybe would we need to set up some sort of Christian Sanhedrin or Sharia Court to hear such matters?

Are your sirens going off yet?

Believe me this isn’t just about gay marriage. It is about some citizens wanting other citizens to be forced to comply to something they feel is “biblical”. I have several problems with this.

  1. Since when do even all Christians agree on what is and is not “biblical” (see Rachel Held Evans take here: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/17/my-take-the-danger-of-calling-behavior-biblical/ )
  2. When did Jesus ever say, “Hey guys, let’s force the Romans to do this stuff too! Let’s overthrow this government and put my face on the money!!” ???? Oh wait, he didn’t.
  3. When did Jesus ever force anyone to do his will? or even obey his commandments?
  4. In fact weren’t his harshest words reserved for religious leaders who shut the door in other people’s faces, practiced institutionalized hypocrisy and forced people to carry burdens they would never lift themselves?
  5. Wasn’t our country founded by people who didn’t want to be told what they had to believe or to be forced to worship in a certain way? Weren’t they fleeing places with nationalized religions?
  6. Theocracies are dangerous. My belief is that there will only be one perfect theocracy and Jesus will sit on that throne. No human is fit to rule in his place.
  7. In America we embrace the principles of liberty and justice FOR ALL regardless of religion or race or gender. I am fond of saying it is either liberty and justice for all or it is liberty and justice for none.
  8. There is no unless in the above statements, it doesn’t say…God loves you unless you are not a Christian or God loves you, unless you are gay. Additionally, our pledge of allegiance does not say liberty and justice for all (except gays or except blacks or accept women). It says, with liberty and justice FOR ALL.

After all my lovelies, people have used the Bible to justify all kinds of things I (and I am guessing most of you) find unacceptable today (Slavery, women as property and all manner of other abuses come to mind). The cause du jour for our time happens to be marriage equality. People are fond of saying, “I just believe what the Bible says. It is crystal clear” or they use phrases like “traditional marriage” . Let’s explore those statements through the following graphics:

tumblr_m80awqPk0Y1qkdvl3o1_1280

traditional-marriage

Many of my Christian friends think that “redefining marriage” will somehow tarnish marriage and make God angry. Listen, my marriage is holy because Kent and I choose to have God in the center of it. It is not made unholy by some other heterosexual couple being married who do not choose to have God at the center of theirs nor by any homosexual couple who do not. (or by others divorce or  infidelity or abuse etc. etc.) Incidentally, I neglected to mention a second ago, the Christian LGBT couples who choose to have God at the center of their relationships. A dizzying prospect? Here, sit down my lovelies, I will get you a cold glass of water.

A homosexual couple (or other “sinful” couple) marrying only affects one marriage, their own. This is the United States. We allow all types of people to get married for all types of reasons who commit all types of sins (I do not believe homosexuality is a sin incidentally), we recognize the marriages of all faith traditions, including non-christians! Gasp!! I just don’t see how or why free people do not understand this concept.

In Galations 5 it says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Why, in God’s name, do people want to keep themselves or others under or put themselves or others back under a yoke of slavery when they have been set free? In the U.S we embrace the idea that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness“. Neither God (he gives us all free will) nor the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to deny these pursuits to your neighbor. You don’t have to agree with someone in the United States to afford them equal rights. Heck our country was built on that premise and that is why eventually this will prevail IMHO. As my Friend Matthew Paul Turner’s Facebook status read yesterday (and I like to think he is right), “Marriage equality will happen. It’s only a matter of time. This country has proven over and over again that it is indeed capable of changing courses, righting wrongs, reversing bad decisions, and siding with freedom, equality and democracy. We’re sometimes slow to get started. We’re sometimes blinded by our ignorance and fear. But we always eventually see the light. And once that light starts to crack through, you can’t keep it from shining. You can try. But you won’t prevail. Because in America, freedom always wins out in the end. It might take us a little longer to get to the finish line. But we will get there. And we will get there together.”

As far as “making God angry” I don’t believe that anymore but you can read all about that in my earlier post Why was God mad in 1927 or Was Jesus enough?

Why Christian Companies’ Corporate Conscience Should be Clear

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio

Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is NOT a post about:

  1. when life begins
  2. whether contraception causes abortion
  3. whether Roe vs. Wade should be overturned
  4. Pro-choice vs. Pro-life

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

So there is a lot of hubbub out there right now about Hobby Lobby and their suit against the Federal Government over Obamacare.  Their basic concern, and the concern of many Christian business owners is that Obamacare is causing them “to violate their deeply held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines, penalties and lawsuits” by requiring them to provide insurance that covers abortions, contraception and the morning after pill. They contend that it violates their conscience to provide such coverage because they morally oppose the use of such medications and procedures. It is my contention, however, that Hobby Lobby — and companies like them — can and should comply with the new law without any hesitation. It is also my contention that they can rest easy knowing that God does not lay (what they consider to be) the sins of others at their feet.

Requiring Christian-owned businesses to provide health insurance which covers contraception is not, honestly, that big of a deal, simply because it effectively changes nothing. Companies such as Hobby Lobby already pay people money that some of those people then use to pay for contraceptives/abortion themselves. Should Hobby Lobby be allowed to fire all those people? Of course not. Hobby Lobby is no more or less responsible for the use of said contraceptives either way. Once the money leaves their hands in the form of a paycheck or insurance premium the use of the money is no longer their responsibility. Some companies argue that under Obama care, they know that their money will be used to pay for abortions. Here are the facts.

#1. Every state must offer at least one plan that does not cover abortion so that there is an option for individuals who do not want this coverage.

#2 You will not have to pay for other people’s abortions unless you have opted to have this coverage for yourself.

In her article from earlier this year, Laura Bassett summed it up this way:

In fact, the policy does not require anyone who does not want abortion coverage to pay for it. Under the law, states have to offer at least one health plan on their insurance exchanges that doesn’t cover abortion services at all. If a state decides it does want to have health plans that cover abortion services on its exchange, and if a woman chooses one of those plans, then she has to pay a separate fee of at least $1 to a separate account for that coverage in order to make sure no federal dollars are used to support abortion services.

For people who opt into a health plan that covers abortion, the Affordable Care Act requires that health plans “provide a notice to enrollees” at the time of enrollment that their plan includes the surcharge, but those plans are not allowed to advertise the specific surcharge.

In short, the employees are given their choice of plans at least one of which will not include abortion coverage.

Now I realize that if even one woman they employ chooses that coverage and then has an abortion, some of their money will go to paying for it. But think of it this way; if I hire you to clean out my garage and then you use that money for an abortion, it is exactly the same. The health care law requires employers to provide an insurance option that covers abortion and contraception. It does not require employers to pass out morning after pills or write checks to abortion clinics. The employee is still making the choice, not the employer.

Listen, I am not pro-abortion. I think it should be as rare as possible. But to argue that I am then morally responsible for your choices off the clock simply because I provide you a paycheck or help pay for your insurance is insane. I guarantee you Hobby Lobby has paid people who have used their money to sin in all kinds of ways. I do not hold them responsible for that. They cannot, nor should they be able to, tell people how they can or cannot spend their paychecks. Unless of course they are breaking the law.

A well-meaning friend said to me today that it is a free country and the people don’t have to work there. They can just go somewhere else where that coverage is offered. Really? So now people have to know all about the owners of a company before they take a job? They need to find someone they agree with on all moral and spiritual accounts before they can work somewhere? That is like expecting an employer to know everything about a person before hiring them. This is a free country, we embrace freedom of religion when it comes to personal practice. What we do not allow is one person’s freedom of religion to trump the rights of others. If you want to do business in the United States, there are all kinds of things you may consider sinful that you cannot use to discriminate against someone when considering them for a job. For example we don’t allow companies to ask if people have already had an abortion, whether they are living with their boyfriend/girlfriend or are gay. I guarantee you that people who already work for Hobby Lobby are and have done all these things. People in fact spend their paychecks from Hobby Lobby in support of those choices.

Sadly, I think most people are just more comfortable with people who sin in the same ways they do or just keep it to themselves.

Here is the bottom line: The owners of Hobby Lobby should comply and then go to bed with a clear conscience. The individual using the contraceptives or getting the abortion or living with their boyfriend or doing drugs with the money you pay them was doing it yesterday and will do it again tomorrow. Obamacare does nothing to change that or make you pay for more of that (in fact it may be that less of an employer’s money goes to abortion since the insurance will pay a portion rather than 100% of it coming from that person’s paycheck). A company has no control (nor should they) over the private acts of an individual – and that is a good thing. God does not hold us responsible for the sins of others.

Consider this? What if the owners were Jehovah’s Witnesses (which don’t believe in getting blood transfusions) and they decide to remove the coverage for blood transfusions from their insurance policies. Would you be okay with that? What if they were Christian Science? They do not believe in much medical intervention at all. Should they be required to provide insurance for their employees? You see, when taken to its logical conclusion, it falls apart. The only truly fair way to handle this is to let each individual choose for themselves and Christians should be okay with that. After all Romans 12:10-12 says:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

My point is that by providing the mandated insurance options ,Hobby Lobby does not need to feel their conscience is being violated. They are not controlling whether or not these people have these procedures either way. The individuals involved are controlling their own behavior. The owner’s consciences should remain clear. Their money (in the form of people’s paychecks) is already being spent donating to pro choice causes, Democrat candidates and Planned Parenthood, not to being spent on drugs, alcohol, abortion, porn and any number of other things they may not agree with. It is the nature of commerce in a free society.

Another friend asserted today that we should afford rights to people as long as they didn’t contradict the Bible. Wow! Here is the problem. Turning the Bible into American Law is a BAD idea. Even if you are a very conservative Christian this should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Exactly whose version of the Bible do we follow? The Southern Baptist Convention’s? Brian McLaren’s? Pat Robertson’s? Mark Driscoll’s? Heavens to Betsy! Let’s think this through!

I am a follower of Jesus and I want my country to afford and protect my right  to worship as I see fit. I DO NOT want to live in a theocracy until Jesus is the one leading it, even if my personal beliefs were respected. Even if you, my lovelies, got to write up the laws based on your understanding of who God is and what he wants, eventually someone else rises to power and next thing you know all the women are not allowed to go to school and are forced to wear burqas. Afghanistan springs to mind. The beauty of the United States is that the same Constitution that guarantees my Muslim neighbor, my atheist neighbor, my Israeli neighbor, my gay neighbor and my Mormon neighbor their rights to believe and practice ensures my right to do the same. As soon as I begin removing or denying their rights it is only a matter of time before mine are next.

If you do follow Jesus as I do, we can look to him for how best to handle this situation. In Matthew 22:15-22 it says:

Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

During this period of history the Jews were occupied by the Romans. There were many Jews who thought the Messiah would come in and overthrow the government. By all accounts the Roman Empire was not known for being kind and benevolent. In fact, quite the opposite. They were most likely spending the money that the Jews paid them in tribute to perpetuate all kinds of things the Jewish people disagreed with. Did Jesus blame them for the sins of the Romans since the money they provided was used for things they didn’t allow? Did he say, “Refuse to pay Caesar what he requires? In fact, sue him. Our money shouldn’t be used for such things!”? No, actually, he didn’t. Did he ever say anything to the political leaders of the Roman Empire about how they spent the money? Nope. Not a word in the scriptures about that. Jesus reserved his words about money and how to spend it for the people who claimed to follow God. And here, where he could have said stop paying the tribute and use that money for something else, he instead says, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

We can also look at the scriptures and see that God never forces us or manipulates us or bans us from making poor choices.  (For the record I don’t see birth control as a poor choice, and I think any situation where an abortion is chosen or necessary is tragic, but there are many for which any abortion or contraception is seen as sin). He also never forces us to choose him and he doesn’t strike dead those who don’t. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. God’s mercies are new everyday.

I think we can draw from these passages that Jesus is more concerned with the hearts of the owners of Hobby Lobby who say they follow him than he is about the money they essentially pay as a tax to provide healthcare.

Related articles