Archives for category: Feminism and History

People, it has been a bittersweet week in America.

First, the good news:

1.) A section of DOMA has been found unconstituational by the supreme court, which will allow gay and lesbian married couples to receive federal benefits like heterosexual couples. Prop 8 has also been overturned, so now California can recognize equal marriage.

2.) An extreme anti-abortion bill in Texas was successfully filibustered by primarily Senator Wendy Davis as well as many others (I would like to personally mention Senator Leticia Van De Putte, because she was amazing and should not be forgotten.) Honestly, this ended as a “people’s filibuster”, because protesters were screaming so loudly that the republican senators could not hear the roll and so could not sign the bill before midnight. This was a good victory.

And now, the bad news.

1.) Texas governor Rick Perry has called a special session, beginning on Monday July 1st, in order to attempt to pass the anti-abortion bill again. In my mind, there is less than a slim chance that this bill will not pass.

If this bill passes, it will prohibit abortions after 20 weeks from fertilization with no exceptions. (Meanwhile, having the age of the fetus be determined by fertilization rather than from the gestational age determined by the LMP (last menstrual period) actually makes the gestational age less than 20 weeks.) This bill will also require doctors that perform abortions have hospital privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. It would also require that the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards for ambulatory surgical centers. This would effectively shut down almost all of the clinics in Texas which offer abortions, leaving only five in the entire state.

Let’s also be aware that the republican senators attempted to commit fraud in front of millions of people shortly after midnight passed by changing the time stamps on the official record. This has been screen-caped and passed around on social media networks, causing outrage.  Meanwhile, do you think anyone will be held accountable for this? Me neither.

2.) The supreme court has FUCKED UP twice this week. The first was when they declared that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not protect a Native father’s parental rights. This article sums it up so well that I will quote from it and hope that you read the whole thing:

Christy Maldonado gave birth to a baby in 2009 whose father, Dusten Brown, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Because of self-determination, the Cherokee Nation decides who its citizens are—and because Dusten Brown is Cherokee, his baby, named Veronica, is Cherokee as well. Maldonado and Brown lost touch by the time the baby was born, and Brown was never informed of the baby’s birth. Maldonado decided to put the baby up for adoption, and a white couple named Melanie and Matt Capobianco took Veronica into pre-adoptive care.

Just to be clear, although the case is called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, the Copabiancos never adopted Veronica. When Brown was served with Maldonado’s intention to place the baby up for adoption, he immediately fought the decision. A South Carolina court agreed that a non-custodial Native father was, indeed a father for the purpose of the case, under ICWA.

So what does ICWA do? The act was created because of incredibly high rates of white parents adopting Native children; in states like Minnesota, that have large Native populations, non-Natives raised 90 percent of Native babies and children put up for adoption. Those adoptions sever ties to Native tribes and communities, endangering the very existence of these tribes and nations. In short, if enough Native babies are adopted out, there will literally not be enough citizens to compose a nation. ICWA sought to stem that practice by creating a policy that keeps Native adoptees with their extended families, or within their tribes and nations. The policy speaks to the core point of tribal sovereignty: Native tribes and nations use it to determine their future, especially the right to keep their tribes and nations together.

But leave it to the Supreme Court to miss the point altogether this morning. The prevailing justices failed to honor tribal sovereignty in today’s ruling. In writing for the court’s majority, Justice Samuel Alito opened his delivery on the ruling with these words:

This case is about a little girl (Baby Girl) who is classified as an Indian because she is 1.2% (3/256) Cherokee.

What Alito (along with Justices Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas and Breyer) is perhaps willfully missing is that the Cherokee Nation does not classify its citizens in that way. Baby Veronica is not a certain percentage Cherokee—she is Cherokee, as determined by her nation. The high court’s first sentence, based in the colonial practice of blood quantum instead of the way that citizenship is determined by the Cherokee Nation, illustrates that the justices made this case about race—in their mind—and not about tribal sovereignty in the law. By this flawed logic, the high court ruled that Baby Veronica is somehow not Native enough to be protected by ICWA.

So the Supreme Court fucked that one up. And if you think that’s big, just wait.

It also completely gutted the Voters Right Act of 1965. Basically, the supreme court has stated that we have changed as a country, and racism at the polls isn’t relevant. This decision will allow states (that were previously flagged in this act as needing federal approval for voting changes) to change any voting standards or voting districts without the approval of the Department of Justice.It took Texas two hours to declare that it was implementing a voter ID law and that it would be changing the voting districts to a plan that was already deemed by federal judges to be discriminatory to Texas minority voters.

There are already more states joining the bandwagon, and I’m sure this will continue.

So, honestly, readers, I feel like maybe I lied at the beginning of this post. This week has not been bittersweet. It has been horrifying with a few beams of light that will be shut out, or will be attempted to be shut out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that all marriages will receive benefits from the federal government, but the amount of racism, sexism, and discrimination that has been and will continue to be allowed is literally sickening.Readers, do not celebrate our victories too much. We are not done fighting yet. There is still too much to be done for people who are not being heard -for women, for people of color, for Native Americans, for trans* people, and so many others. Please do not forget them.

Please, stay angry. And if you’re not already, where the hell have you been?

Today I would like to take the time to discuss what is going on in the Supreme Court at this period of time, because everyone else seems to be freaking out about it.

First, let me give some background as to what’s actually going on.

The Supreme Court is deciding the fate of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8. Basically, both of these oppose same-sex marriages at different levels (DOMA is federal, while Prop. 8 is within a state) and they are now being contested. Advocates for gay rights want both of these to be repealed by the Supreme Court.

It has been years since these have passed (DOMA in 1996, Prop. 8 in 2008) but now the case is finally being heard, and people are holding on to high hopes.

Now, I wanted to use this space not just for a history lesson, but in response to an article I found via a facebook friend.

The article is called “Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage are Persuasive” by a Christian pastor, Kevin DeYoung. It can be found here.

There are multiple places that I want to pick at from this article, so please read it, because then it will make more sense.

He writes that “For a long time, homosexuality seemed weird or gross. Now it seems normal.” I disagree with that -or, more specifically, I would like for him to admit that he is only talking about the American context  in very specific time periods. In COLONIZED America, homosexuality seemed weird or gross. Homosexuality and Trans* people were not always “gross” in “America”, because there were tribes of people who accepted these people in their cultures, until white people came in and basically destroyed everything. (If requested, I have actual articles on this, and I will reference them if necessary.)

And, even if we ignore the fact that this land was once filled with people who had Two-Spirit traditions going back centuries, other cultures had similar ideas too –Africa, for instance, before it was colonized, and India too. (Basically, let’s just agree that European colonization screwed everything up in every way.) In ancient Greece, homosexuality usually took place between an older man and a younger man/boy, and it was seen as healthy.

So, in short, no one should make sweeping generalizations about how homosexuality was “weird or gross” however long ago, because I assure you that there is more than enough research to prove that even longer ago than that time, people were cool with it and it wasn’t a big deal.

After he writes this very general and wrong statement, he makes a list of how gay marriage fits in to our common cultural assumptions:

“1. It’s about progress. Linking the pro-gay agenda with civil rights and women’s rights was very intentional, and it was a masterstroke. To be against gay marriage, therefore, is to be against enlightenment and progress. It puts you on the “wrong side of history.” Of course, most people forget that lots of discarded ideas were once hailed as the inevitable march of progress. Just look at Communism or eugenics or phrenology or the Volt. But people aren’t interested in the complexities of history. We only know we don’t want to be like the nincompoops who thought the sun revolved around the earth and that slavery was okay.

2. It’s about love. When gay marriage is presented as nothing but the open embrace of human love, it’s hard to mount a defense. Who could possibly be against love? But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love. It’s assumed that love is always self-affirming and never self-denying. It’s assumed that our loves never require redirection. Most damagingly, our culture (largely because of heterosexual sins) has come to understand marriage as nothing but the state sanctioning of romantic love. The propagation and rearing of children do not come into play. The role in incentivizing socially beneficial behavior is not in the public eye. People think of marriage as nothing more than the commitment (of whatever duration) which romantic couples make to each other.

3. It’s about rights. It’s not by accident the movement is called the gay rights movement. And I don’t deny that many gays and lesbians feel their fundamental human rights are at stake in the controversy over marriage. But the lofty talk of rights blurs an important distinction. Do consenting adults have the right to enter a contract of their choosing? It depends. Businesses don’t have a right to contract for collusion. Adults don’t have a right to enter into a contract that harms the public good. And even if you think these examples are beside the point, the fact remains that no law prohibits homosexuals (or any two adults) from making promises to each other, from holding a ceremony, from entering into a covenant with each other. The question is whether the government should bestow upon that contract the name of marriage with all the rights and privileges thereto.

4. It’s about equality. Recently, I saw a prominent Christian blogger tweet that she was for gay marriage because part of loving our neighbor is desiring they get equal justice under the law. Few words in the American lexicon elicit such broad support as “equality.” No one wants to be for unequal treatment under the law. But the issue before the Supreme Court is not equality, but whether two laws–one voted in by the people of California and the other approved by our democratically elected officials–should be struck down. Equal treatment under the law means the law is applied the same to everyone. Gay marriage proponents desire to change the law so that marriage becomes something entirely different. Surveys often pose the question “Should it be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to marry?” That makes it sound like we are criminalizing people for commitments they make. The real issue, however, is whether the state has a vested interest in sanctioning, promoting, and privileging certain relational arrangements. Is it unjust for the state not to recognize as marriage your group of four friends, close cousins, or an office suite just because they want their commitments to be called marriage?

5. It’s about tolerance. Increasingly, those who oppose gay marriage are not just considered wrong or mistaken or even benighted. They are anti-gay haters. As one minister put it, gay marriage will eventually triumph because love is stronger than hate. Another headline rang out that “discrimination is on trial” as the Supreme Court hears arguments on Proposition 8 and DOMA. The stark contrast is clear: either you support gay marriage or you are a bigot and a hater. It’s not wonder young people are tacking hard to left on this issue. They don’t want to be insensitive, close-minded, or intolerant. The notion that thoughtful, sincere, well-meaning, compassionate people might oppose gay marriage is a fleeting thought.”

So. My first issue comes to play in his #2, where he apparently assumes that marriage is not about love between two people, and that if the USA grants same-sex marriage, then love will be confused with sex somehow. I’m not entirely sure how he makes this jump: ” But hidden in this simple reasoning is the cultural assumption that sexual intercourse is necessarily the highest, and perhaps the only truly fulfilling, expression of love.” Because gay/lesbian people and their allies are NOT arguing for the right to have sex, they are arguing that they can be legally recognized by the government as being married and get the rights involved with that distinction. Sex is not a problem here. Rights are.

Also, what is the problem with marriage being about love? Because, literally, that is the reason most people list when you ask them “why did you get married?” It’s not ‘because we wanted kids’, ‘because we wanted to have sex’, ‘because we wanted to show people socially beneficial behavior’. It’s because they loved each other so much that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. I assure you that marriage fails for a number of reasons, one being that they didn’t love each other any more, but any marriage based off of those three examples I gave above is practically doomed to failure from the start.

AND, let’s talk about kids, because I don’t think that marriage is REALLY about procreating (or that it should be at all) when more than 250,000 kids are put in foster care every year and over 136,000 are waiting to be adopted per year. So, let’s not make this a ‘kid issue’, because I am positive that some same-sex couples would LOVE to adopt and would not increase these rates about kids needing adoption. We do not have a procreating issue, I promise.

My next problem with the article is, of course, #3. DeYoung writes, “the fact remains that no law prohibits homosexuals (or any two adults) from making promises to each other, from holding a ceremony, from entering into a covenant with each other. The question is whether the government should bestow upon that contract the name of marriage with all the rights and privileges thereto.”

The question is actually if the government can recognize separation of church and state  in order to give these couples their damn rights. There are same-sex couples who have been together as-long-as or longer-than many opposite-sex couples, and they have nothing to show for it. They have no say in life-and-death matters in hospitalization, they don’t get tax benefits or social security benefits when their partner passes (or if they are disabled or laid off), and any of the other 1,138 rights married couples get.

Meanwhile, I sense a lot of hypocrisy coming from this man who is so willing to tell gay/lesbian people “you can make promises to each other and that should be good enough for you” when he benefits from all of the rights that these people don’t have and are fighting for.

In #4, he argues that legalizing same-sex marriage would forever change the meaning of marriage, so that it becomes “something entirely different”. This is crap, honestly, because the definition of marriage has changed before in history. (He should know this, especially since in #1 he was commenting on all the ‘complexities of history’ that we tend to ignore, kinda like he did in this case.)

Marriage, before the women’s movements I discussed in my first post, was about ownership. Men literally owned women -they were property. That is why the woman took the man’s name, because he owned her. It was a practice called coverture. Let me restate this: THE HUSBAND LITERALLY OWNED THE WIFE AS THOUGH SHE WAS A PIECE OF LAND OR FURNITURE. She went from having her father’s name -from being property of her father -to having her husband’s name, being the property of her husband.

Clearly, marriage has been VERY redefined since then, so I feel that the argument “We can’t redefine marriage, it’s always been the same!” is bullshit. Especially when it’s spouted by Christians, because in the Bible, marriage is rarely ever the same thing. The Bible has one man-one woman, one man-multiple women, one man-one woman-one slave, one man-lots of concubines, men-who-never-get-married, one woman-one relative; it also has remarriage (but only after death), sanctions against divorce, messages of coverture, sanctions against mixed-religion relationships, rapists marrying their victims, sanctions to remain unmarried, etc. (And don’t get me started on David and Jonathan…)

Basically, when Christians say that redefining marriage is against the Bible, or that God only defined marriage in one way, I want to slap them in the face and tell them to read the Bible, because it is just not true. (I also want to point out all the other verses that we ignore in this culture, like the kosher regulations (“but those are just for Jews!” they cry) and not wearing clothing of mixed fibers. We seemed to forget about those ones.)

I’m just sick of hearing/seeing people being bigots, because that’s what denying equality makes you. If you are so scared that someone else’s happiness is going to somehow take yours away, you need to re-evaluate what makes you happy. If you think that someone else’s marriage is going to de-value your own, you have very messed up ideas about how marriage works, and honestly your marriage is probably already broken.

I’m not even going to try to tackle the rest of his article, because it is ridiculous and bigoted and hateful. It is backwards in so many ways, and wrong in so many other ways. I am tired of people shouting with their eyes clenched shut and their hands over their ears. I want to be a person who is shouting with joy when same-sex marriage is legalized, and I want to go to my friend’s weddings when they finally legally marry their partners. I will be on the right side of history, and I don’t care if that makes me ‘part of the culture’ or whatever, because all I am working to do is make this culture a better place for everyone, and to make it more equal for people who are discriminated against.

Straight people need to check their privilege and start actually caring about people who are different from them, and it starts here.

Forty years ago today -January 22, 1973 –Roe vs. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court and abortion was legalized! Women could control their bodies and their lives! Huzzah!

That’s really all I have to say for this post. It’s just a small celebration of history that we are still fighting for in many ways. Yay for choice!