I’ve debated writing this post. I’m sure I’ll offend someone, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. But this is important to me. And whether or not you realize it now, it’s important to you, too. Most of us have decided how we’ll vote in this election. But if you’re not sure, or even if you’re just lukewarm about the candidate you’ve chosen, I hope you’ll consider carefully what I have to say.
The economy still sucks. Maybe President Obama could have done better. Probably not, with a Congress determined to stall the recovery. I doubt Romney could have done better, and his math doesn’t add up when it comes to his fixes. But that’s not my biggest concern. Economically, things are improving, albeit too slowly. Under either man, that will continue.
My biggest concern is equal rights. Something, to my confusion and chagrin, still doesn’t exist in this country. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has stated that , despite its wording, the 14th Amendment only applies to race. He was quite clear that women specifically are not protected equally under the Constitution. (Find links to all the information I offer at the end of this blog.)
My generation, and the one just before, fought long and hard, championing the idea that every US citizen should enjoy the same rights under the Constitution. EVERY citizen. Equality means no exceptions because you’re gay or Latino or atheist or female. Can anyone reasonably argue this shouldn’t be so?
President Obama has demonstrated forward movement on this front. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He supports gay marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and mandated hospitals must allow gay partners visitation rights. He also supports a woman’s right to choose what to do with her personal body parts, and that is no small thing.
FACT: Under Romney/Ryan, both a woman’s right to choose and access to affordable birth control would be in danger. Romney has sworn to defund Planned Parenthood, which offers a variety of important healthcare services to women who can’t afford them any other way. Abortion, FYI, represents only 3% of the services they provide. The 97% include affordable cancer screenings and birth control.
I won’t argue Roe v Wade here, but I will say that repealing it won’t make abortion go away. It will just return us to coat hangars. Oh, except for the wealthy, who have always had access to the procedure. The generations of women who followed mine have never NOT had choice. Whatever your personal philosophy, I beg you not to give up the right to CHOOSE your own path, nor the access to affordable birth control. Sex is as much a woman's right as it is a man's. It doesn't have to lead to pregnancy and unwanted children.
If a woman performs a job as well as her male counterpart, should she not be paid the same wage? If you don’t think so, WTH not? Yet, in the five states that come closest to gender-equal paychecks, for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 75 cents. In Utah, the state with the worst record, women make around half (55 cents) of what men do, for the exact same work. Romney/Ryan embrace this inequality.
In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to afford gender equality as a Constitutional right. There was a ten-year deadline to get enough states (38) to sign it into law. By 1982, only 35 states had done so. Instrumental in the defeat of the ERA in key swing states was the Mormon Church, which rallied members and poured money into the effort, much the same way it did with the anti-gay rights Proposition 8 in California during the last election.
Of course, the Mormon Church has an absolute right to its belief system. But its leaders wield power, and Romney has served as a Mormon bishop and stake president. In those roles, he went well beyond church doctrine. Once, he demanded a single mother give her child up for adoption. (Because, you know, a single mother can’t possibly parent well.) On another occasion, he insisted a woman whose life was endangered by her pregnancy carry to term anyway. (It is important to note that his superiors in the church didn’t feel the same way. Even within his religion, he is an extremist.)
Fact: Under Romney/Ryan, the gay rights we’ve accomplished will roll back.
Mr. Romney has recently stated gay people do not have the right to visit their partners in the hospital. He has vowed to roll back DADT and worse, to sponsor a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. In other words, not only will he not defend equality under the Constitution, he wants to alter it specifically to make sure a large segment of our society will never have equal rights. Again, no matter your personal views on the definition of marriage, this is quite simply an equal rights issue.
Romney has quite publicly said that he’s not worried about representing college students, the elderly, the working poor or others who pay no federal income tax (the infamous 47%), especially not those who need help from the government in the form of food stamps, unemployment or Medicaid. You know, those pesky things that keep poor people from starving in the streets or dying from strep throat.
This is the most troubling thing of all. That a man who assumes to be President of the United States would choose to roll back the equal rights we’ve already managed to accomplish. That he would not to serve every US citizen equally. That he would alter the Constitution to make damn sure certain segments of our society will forever be discriminated against. It is indefensible. And something I really hope you’ll consider before you go to the polls.
Breaking: the Romney campaign says Mitt still supports Richard Mourdock,despite the Republican senator saying in a recent debate that God intends pregnancies that result from rape. Following his logic, he’s saying God intends rape. This is reprehensible. Yet, Romney refuses to distance himself. Go figure.