I guess I feel like it just needs to be said. No, I doubt very much that I will change any minds. So much of this country has already decided. But I still feel like I need to share why I am voting for Obama this year. Take it or leave it, really… but I voted last Thursday in Florida and now I am saying my piece here. After that? As my mother would say with a shrug of the shoulders, N’chala (an Arabic phrase that means “God willing”).
Who are we kidding? Could any individual president have fixed this mess in four years? Nope. (No math wiz here but didn’t it take 8 years to screw it up?) Will either presidential candidate independently fix this mess? Ha. NOPE. That takes all of us, it means we ALL collectively need to be responsible and stop pointing fingers and looking out for ourselves above all else. I truly believe it will get better, it already is, but don’t you DARE kid yourself into thinking either guy has all the answers and it will or should change with the flip of a presidency.
Side bar: Taxes
WE NEED THEM. Don’t be greedy. Shut up and pay your fair share. Good grief.
THIS is what is comes down to for me. Well, there is other stuff… sure. But THIS. I pick the guy who thinks women and men are equal. I pick the guy who believes any human being should have the right to love any other human being. Choosing the guy who DOESN’T would mean I care more about empty campaign promises than I care about my gay friends having equal rights. It’s really as simple as that. For me. My conscience is clear with my vote. And that’s that.
The Supreme Court
We have some supreme court justices who are likely to retire this coming presidential term. I know my beliefs. I know which rights I want to keep. I know I don’t want to see any delicate progress we’ve made slide dangerously backwards. As my husband says, I hope our next supreme court justice nominee has purple hair, a tattoo sleeve and a nose ring. Oh, I make generalizations, don’t I? But let’s get real, people. Do YOU see yourself represented in the supreme court? Just make sure that you do.
Warm winters, blazing hot summers, melting ice caps, SANDY. Don’t even BEGIN to tell me you don’t think that global warming is for real. Is it. We need to deal with it. At the very least, we need to stop being so dependent on oil and oil companies and consider alternative energy sources. Yes, yes, there is so much controversy with what works best and what messes with things… but don’t throw in the towel and ignore it because it’s just more comfortable and convenient to do what you’ve always done. Getting comfortable and greedy is what screws us every time (see above under “economy”).
I didn’t trust Romney and his cardboard cut-out smile and un-smiling eyes when he was Governor of Massachusetts years ago. And I certainly do not trust him now. This man said that he couldn’t be bothered with 47% of this country. HE said that. Do I honestly trust that he is looking out for the middle class? Do I honestly trust that he will protect my rights as a woman? Do I honestly trust that he cares more about moving our country forward than protecting rich people’s money? No, no and NO. I do NOT trust that man. At all.
And there you have it for me. I feel better now. I got it off my chest. Again, I doubt very much that I have changed anyone’s mind. But it seems that NOW is the time to pull up my rickety little soapbox, get up on it and say my piece in this public space. Get up on yours. Let’s all have a holler about what we want and what we believe. Who knows, maybe we agree on more than we disagree and maybe, after Tuesday (and after a few wounds have been licked), we can get our asses in gear and come together. Maybe.
Along with many of you, I’ve been in a cold sweat of chicken rage today. And I don’t like it. It’s not productive. It’s not good for me. It’s not solving a damn thing. So, in the midst of all this floured, battered and deep-fried intolerance, this is my way of reminding myself about what I CAN do.
I CAN chose to eat where I want. Some of us buy local to support small business. Some us shop at a friend’s Etsy site to support her business. Some of us don’t buy food with high fructose corn syrup in it. We hand our money over where we choose to. I CAN control where my paycheck goes. I can’t control where our neighbor spends her money.
I CAN teach my children about tolerance and acceptance. I can tell them how important love and respect is. I can tell them how lucky I am to have found and married their father. I can tell them that everyone deserves the same rights as us. I can tell them that love between two consenting adults is a beautiful, precious, spiritual and, at times, rare thing. Hold on and celebrate it when you find it.
I CAN vote. I can write my representatives and tell them that I believe in same sex marriage and equal rights.
I CAN reflect on the progress that has been made towards equal rights over the past decade. It’s something. Not enough… but it’s moving in the right direction.
I CAN choose to listen and not cut myself off from diverse, open-minded conversation with people on both sides of the table–no matter how difficult it might be.
I CAN walk away from angry, spiteful or offensive conversation. I don’t have to listen to that. Hate isn’t my deal, baby.
I CAN think for myself.
I CAN keep learning and never assume I know it all. (HARDLY.)
I CAN be grateful for a country where I’m not arrested for my beliefs. (We’ve got work to do, though, I know.)
I CAN come home, cuddle my kids on the couch and take comfort that some artery-clogging fast-food chicken chain isn’t going to change my beliefs or the millions of others who share my beliefs. And it’s not going to make gay American citizens, or their deserved rights (no, they won’t make us go backwards, they won’t) just *poof* go away.
And, as my husband says: “Who the fuck puts a pickle on their chicken sandwich, anyway?”
Damn, I hope that doesn’t sound too condescending. But I really am.
It’s not news to anyone reading here when I share that I am a huge supporter of LBGT rights and that I kind of can’t see straight when any person, law, idea or organization segregates, discriminates or excludes a person for their sexual orientation, gender, race, class, any of it. But you all know this, color me “bleeding heart”, it’s what I stand behind. So there.
Florida, meanwhile, has had an, ahem, shaky past with some LBGT and race issues. And that has made me less than proud to live here sometimes. For example, when I first moved here, same sex couple were not allowed to adopt. Mind-blowing.
However, as of 2009, this changed. (Breathe out sigh of relief.)
And, more recently, Tampa has put forward a couple initiatives to try and get things on the right track towards less discrimination, also.
Firstly, Tampa has recently created a domestic partnership registry — the first of it’s kind on this area. It would offer partnered couples more rights as family than it did before. I’m thrilled to hear this. It’s not perfect. But it’s a start.
Also, and what I am all fired up about today, Tampa is hosting it’s first Erase Hate Festival this weekend, on April 21st. I am thrilled about it. With family activities happening all afternoon and great musical performers on stage in the evening, I think this is pretty much one of the best ideas Tampa has had in awhile to foster an open, accepting community — at least in my humble opinion.
One of my dearest friends also happens to be a DIE HARD Brandi Carlile fan. Brandi is the featured performer on Saturday. So, my friend has bought a plane ticket down here and has managed to win two V.I.P. tickets for both of us.
*cue squee… now…*
So, we all kinds of fired up for this. And I kind of think that anyone in the Tampa Bay area should be, too.
Did I mention that this event is FREE?
I think you should go. I do. If you live around here, I mean.
It seems all sorts of folks have been speaking on my behalf about a few things. And I am referring to myself in the general “just your average mom” kind of way. But as a typical, average mom who believes in equality, choice and, well, love (I know, sooooo feminist of me), these folks seem to have me wildly misinterpreted and misrepresented. And that’s not OK.
Let’s start with a group that subtly titles itself “One Million Moms.” (I’m not linking to them because I don’t want to. Go find them for yourself if you wish.) People look at that name, however, and say, “Oh hey, that’s a whole lot of moms! That must be every mom! Let’s hear what all these moms think.” Ok. Well, this group of a “million moms” has recently waged war against JC Penney. Why? Here’s why:
“Recently JC Penney announced that comedian Ellen Degeneres will be the company’s new spokesperson. Funny that JC Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families… By jumping on the pro-gay bandwagon, JC Penney is attempting to gain a new target market and in the process will lose customers with traditional values that have been faithful to them over all these years.”
Wait a second. I’m a traditional family. I mean, I have kids and a mortgage and I want them raised to be nice, lawful people. So, JC Penney is going to LOSE customers with these values because their new spokeswoman is a woman who loves another woman?
This ragtag collection of one million moms need to check their hate and get the hell off my lawn. My values are about equality and love and I’d like to think those values are pretty damn traditional in a certain “What Would Jesus Do” kind of way.
But wait, there’s more.
I choose to use birth control. Funniest thing, that. If I don’t, I get pregnant. I’ve tried it, twice. So, I know I cannot afford to pull the goalie because we can’t feed more mouths, we need me working and, dammit, I’m getting kind of old for that stuff. Deciding to provide for my family is far more productive than reproduction — but apparently this is questionable.
One of the current GOP candidates running for President (of the United States, yep, the whole country), Santorum, has said this:
“One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay. Contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
AND PEOPLE ARE VOTING FOR HIM.
And people are supporting him. Like this bozo, Santorum’s billionaire backer, who actually informed us that:
“Back in my day, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”
Yep. He said that.
People are bringing Santorum’s views on contraception up, why? Because our President thought that maybe women might need some help affording birth control. You know, since healthcare is kind of expensive? And because poor women are more than 3 times as likely as middle class women to have an unintentional pregnancy due to birth control costs. So, every woman has the same rights as I do to choose NOT to have babies and go back to work, right?
Ask the GOP. They are scratching their heads and aren’t really sure how to respond. And democratic folks on Capitol Hill like Senator Boxer are left reminding us that “This is the 21st Century.” And:
“Ninety-nine percent of women, including 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control. And 77 percent of Catholic women voters support requiring insurance plans to cover contraception for free.”
Who care more about their gods and fathers than whether or not their wives have the right to choose when they want to have a family. Or go back to work. Or help pick their families up out of the financial hole this country dug us all into.
These guys HAVE to stop speaking for me.
Because none of this is about equality or choice.
And I’m in the middle of my own local school politics war about a potential 4 day school week in my county. An “impartial” task force was formed to discuss the possibility. At last night’s meeting, it seems this group is speaking for me, too. They seem quite ready to neatly — and fairly quietly — nudge this option along and sweep the deficit under the carpet by taking away my children’s school time.
Oh you guys had better stop speaking for me. AND my children.
I’m all kinds of fed up. Because people are speaking for me and treating my values — equality, choice and love — as if they were outrageous, anti-family values, and something that actually needs fixing.
Our political leaders speak for all of us. Because we hired them and we put them there. Write your congressperson, make noise and take this opportunity to speak for yourself before we’re left with a bottle of Bayer aspirin and so many fewer rights than we thought we had in (what century? Oh that’s right, the 21st, thanks Senator) the first place.
Every Martin Luther King Jr. Day I Google him. Why? Well, because I need some reminding. And considering the recent shootings in Tucson, Google has schooled me once again with the sort of MLK wisdom that we should all literally be plastering to our foreheads. I’ll let his words speak for themselves.
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Today simply marks a day when I send a little prayer out into the wind for tolerance and peace.
You know about tolerance right? It’s when you actually stop thinking you know better, for just a moment, and then listen to what someone very different from you has to say. Because isn’t making that choice not to listen and not to like that person and not to think of that person as your equal “too great a burden to bear”?
And as for peace, well I took this picture yesterday. You know me. Wildlife – birds in particular – always seem to bring me a little peace. So, here’s hoping.
The first time I even had any notion that there was such a thing as National Coming Out Day was my freshman year at college. One morning I woke up, slipped on my black Guess jeans, adjusted my scrunchy and stepped out onto campus only to find it gloriously covered with rainbow flags, rainbow ribbons, chalk drawings, announcements, fliers, banners, posters and all kinds of good vibes celebrating our campus’ gay community.
Wow. What a novel thing.
Because, as a straight woman, I never had to have a special DAY when people encouraged and applauded me for admitting who I loved.
(Can you imagine?
“Uh muh guh, I totally want to tell everyone that I have a crush on the most popular guy in school, fer sure. He’s sooooooo totally awesome to the max!”
… *crickets*… yeah yeah, get in line, you and the rest of the eighth grade girls.
…or maybe boys too?)
Because being heterosexual is the expected.
And being homosexual is not.
In fact, it was the first time I had ever thought carefully about the kind of courage it took to COME OUT. For one person to announce that they loved someone else. Out loud. For all the world to hear. And to be that afraid not because she was embarrassed, but because she was scared she might get her ass kicked. Or lose her family. Or lose a job. Or be persecuted or ousted from a community. Or even live in fear that she might be killed for who she loved. Because it happens. All the time.
So back to happy rainbows and people of all genders making out in the middle of the campus green while K.D. Lang crooned from speakers about constant craving.
Me, little miss ignorant *blink, blink* “well shucks now, I’m learning about diversity at college”, me miss “I’ve lived all over the world but didn’t know one damn thing about homophobia”… well, don’t roll your eyes now, but I kind of loved it.
Feeling all “you go girl!” (because that was the new, hip thing to say that back then), I grabbed a rainbow flag, tacked it to my back pack and stomped on ahead to class with a smile on my face. Hells yeah. We can make out with whomever we damn well please. Fly me some rainbows and celebrate the love. This holiday is ROCKS.
So there at college, on that fine fall morning all those years ago, I learned about love. And it was worth every frigging tuition dollar spent for that one very important lesson.
Happy National Coming Out Day to every amazing person finding the strength to say who they love and say it loud. You rock. You are totally awesome to the max. Fer sure.
You are so awesome I’ll even give you my scrunchy (because I’m pretty sure I still have it here somewhere).
People are dying because of who they choose to love. People are not being allowed to marry because of who they choose to love. People are not being allowed to serve our country because of who they choose to love. People are being told God abhors them because of who they choose to love. People are being bullied and abused and cursed at and ignored and isolated and hated because of who they choose to love.
Its LOVE people. And crushes. And sex. And holding hands. And relationships. And picking out furniture. And commitment. And families. And growing old together.
These are good, beautiful, wonderful things to have in this world.
I’m going out on a limb here but I’m pretty sure God is totally down with good, loving, wonderful things. I mean, He created love after all. And I’m not claiming to be the Pope or anything but I have this feeling God is absolutely NOT down with hateful, bigoted, angry acts against another person. It’s just a hunch, but I’m going with it.
So. Stop it.
And if you aren’t encouraging hate yourself, stop ignoring it. Or if you see someone being hateful, say something.
The other evening on the Rachel Maddow Show, Rachel was discussing the current state of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT) in our military. And after hearing further details about this policy and those it is affecting, I was left appalled. In a time when our military resources are as limited as they are, this policy seems outdated and insulting. But before I was ready to list my various reasons in a blog post, I called my friend who is a military wife and we had a very interesting discussion.
Before we jump into this topic, the actual DADT policy can be found here. Also, I would suggest that you watch the Rachel Maddow’s piece that got me all riled up in the first place.
The GLAAD blog also ties a lot of the recent discussion and media coverage together here.
From where I sit as a mom with a vested interest in equal rights, but with no connection to the military, it’s very easy for me to jump head first into a discussion about discrimination and say that DADT is wrong. In my eyes, the policy seems inexcusable and counterproductive.
We are living in a time when our military’s resources are being stretched extraordinarily thin. Men and women are being called to serve 3 or 4 tours of duty in a row, more than they ever signed on for. However, since DADT was made an official policy 15 years ago, almost 13,000 military personnel have been dismissed for being out about their sexual orientation.
I know I am no military guru, but it simply boils down to this: the government is turning away men and women who are willing to protect, fight and die for our country based on a personal lifestyle choice. DADT seems nothing more than a written policy allowing for discrimination in the military. During a time of war, while men and women work and fight to protect us, sexual preference actually matters? Really? Does it? The government is assuming that an out gay individual is actually a threat? Our military is facing all sorts of threats right now, but a gay officer certainly is not one of them. In a time of war or not, discrimination is never ok.
Another point: it is currently legal for same sex couples to marry in an increasing number of states. And in these states, hetero and homosexual married couples are allowed the same rights. Yet our government won’t allow these same residents to be out about their lives or their spouses if they were to enlist in the military? DADT is ridiculous and far too outdated.
But then I called my friend. Her husband is currently serving in Iraq and the military has been a part of their lives for well over a decade. My friend is a wonderful, progressive, baby wearing mom (it is no wonder we are as close as we are). So I asked her. Certainly this policy is something that is simply outdated, correct? Actual personnel in the military can’t possibly agree with this… right?
Well. The answer was not an easy one. This is what I learned. Serving in the military means more than simply having a job. It means you answer to the military for your private and professional life. And if a superior determines a policy, you do not question it. Also, policies, procedures and processes have been set up through history to carefully protect those that serve. To question or break down any of those ingrained policies would take a great deal of congressional work, time, paper shuffling, red tape rearranging, recruitment efforts, educating, briefings and – most importantly – money. Change in the military does not come quickly. Change in the military is not spurred on by political correctness or peer pressure. And she pointed out that during a war such as this, would changing up personnel policies right now be the best time to do so?
We debated for a long time. Our principles certainly do not jibe with how the military does things. I argued that women have recently been given more rights and responsibilities in the military so change is possible – but she argued back “barely”. While minority groups (“out” homosexual personnel aside) serve in the military, they are still very often (although certainly not always) discriminated against. That’s just the way it is.
But still. We can’t be afraid to push for equality just because discrimination in the army is really really hard to change, right? We can’t sit back and swallow DADT just because it is a very expensive pain in the ass to rectify, correct? I have certainly learned that a quick policy change will not just happen overnight with the wave of Obama’s wand. Nevertheless, DADT is outdated, outrageous and flat out discriminatory. I hope Obama does right by his promise to “fulfill his commitment” to change this policy (as noted in the letter on Maddow’s show). I am proud of our military personnel who serve our country, whatever their background, creed, color or sexual orientation. It is time our government is too.
Finally, last night, Rachel Maddow interviewed another decorated solider who has been dismissed for being gay after 18 years of service. This man has done amazing things for our country – what a loss. Please watch.
This is my thirdpost in a series written to honor Women’s History Month. My life has been profoundly influenced and affected by women writing and advocating on my behalf. And now, as I spend my days in a thinking, blogging, posting frenzy, I fancy myself a writer of sorts too. So, it’s high time I acknowledge the women that inspire. Here is my list of top 20 recommended women political bloggers, in no particular order.
Before we get started, please note that I did ask my fellow bloggers and readers who they read also. So this list includes my favorites along with those who have been recommended to me.
Ok then. Here we go.
1. Momocrats: While this is in no particular order, I still must put the Momocrats at the top of my list. As hardworking mothers and progressive thinkers, it often seems as if these women are speaking and advocating exclusively on my behalf when I read their posts. They are amazing writers, they know what they are talking about and the world is sitting up to listen to them.
2. Punditmom is my “go to” political blogger. When something is going down, I want to know what a smart, liberal minded, feminist pundit has to say about it. PM comes through for me every time. And sometimes you’ll even catch her speaking her mind on CNN and Fox too.
3. Julie Pippert is probably smarter than all of us put together. She’s extremely well informed, passionate about her politics and is a mother like so many of us.
4. Queen of Spain is kind of political blogger celeb in my mind. She landed an interview with President Obama during the election and has been seen on TV and at major political events ever since.
5. Writes Like She Talks is a fantastic political blogger and has written for Newsweek.com, has made several appearances on CNN and is a columnist. She is certainly a political blogger to be reckoned with.
6. Sairy is a Momocrat who’s found herself reporting from a White House Press conference, amongst other things. Here is her full bio – she is an important voice worth following.
7. Angry Black Bitch: Straight forward, very brilliant and never afraid, I met Shark-Fu on my first day of BlogHer 08 and have been reading her ever since.
8. Viva La Feminista writes as a feminist, Latina and mother – her voice is powerful, her message is important.
9. Mombian is an established lesbian family blog which discusses political topics affecting rights (or lack thereof) for same sex parents.
10. Feministing “is an online community for feminists and their allies.” The women here have created a talented and diverse community as they advocate for equal and human rights.
I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.
Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?
B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.
C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?
B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.
C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?
B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.
C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?
B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.
C: So how do you deal with that?
B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.
C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?
B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?
C(smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.
B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!
I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.
C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?
B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.
C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?
B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.