UnAffordable Healthcare Act

The GOP’s new double-whammy bills to both repeal and replace the ACA, which Trump is affectionately calling TrumpCare, [insert eye roll here, please] is the Republican’s answer to solving the majority of society’s woes. Amazingly, this bill could drastically reduce the number of homeless, raise the median income in our country to highs never seen before, and make both Social Security and Medicare solvent, permanently! Really! How is that, you ask? Let’s take a look and break it down!

  • The Bill promises massive cuts to Medicaid and to phase out the Medicaid Expansion over the next three years, with complete elimination by 2020. Hmm, they say hindsight is 20/20. I wonder what we will look back and see then.  The Medicaid Expansion portion of the ACA extended coverage to approximately 11 million low income US Citizens. That is a lot of people who will begin to see a reduction in their healthcare options until it dwindles to nothing by 2020.  This also includes repealing the subsidies the government now provides to help lower income people pay for deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for insurance purchased on the marketplace.
  • The new Trump Doesn’t Care Act will also de-fund Planned Parenthood, intentionally targeting women’s reproductive healthcare, specifically preventing them from offering services like birth control (click here so I can say, “I told you so.”) and mammograms to more than 2.5 million women across the country.
  • The plan offers a tax incentive to Insurance Companies who PAY THEIR CEO MORE THAN $500,000 A YEAR. Because, yeah, that somehow helps families with their healthcare costs. Yip. Now, instead of subsidizing premiums so lower income families can afford healthcare coverage, we are going to subsidize and reward Insurance Carriers for paying their CEO’s more money! Now that is how you help the working class. I don’t know why we didn’t see that obvious connection before!
  • While the new bill does keep the provision protecting people with pre-existing conditions, that only stays effective so long as the person maintains continual health coverage. If it ever lapses for two or more months, that protection is gone. FOREVER.  So, people who lose health coverage through their work (we will get to why that will likely be popular shortly) or are victims of the Medicaid Expansion Rollback, or who find their insurance plan suddenly costs more than than their rent or mortgage, will have precious little time to replace it with something else. Oh, and it gets even better! If your coverage happens to lapse for two months or more, insurance companies not only can exclude your pre-existing condition, you are penalized by being charged a 30% higher premium for an entire year. Now that money doesn’t go to the IRS or the government to help with healthcare programs and subsidies. No, the insurance company gets to keep it, just because. So, this measure will ensure that lower income people who lose their health coverage and can’t find a replacement that is affordable quickly (if at all) will likely never be able to afford medical insurance. But hey, they probably don’t want access to affordable healthcare anyway. If poor people really wanted healthcare, then they wouldn’t be poor, right?
  • The GOP solution to no more subsidies is a tax credit based on age and income. So, if you are in your twenties and make less than $75K a year, you might qualify for a $2,000 tax credit. That number increases with your age up to $4,000 per year if you are 60+. A family has a maximum tax credit of $14,000. That doesn’t sound too terrible, right? If you are in your twenties, that is about $166 a month for health insurance. But here is the catch: only people who do not have a healthcare plan available to them through their employer and who do not receive any form of government provided healthcare qualify for this tax credit. So, even if you are paying $300 a month for your portion of employer provided insurance, you do not qualify. Even if you are paying the full price for your Medicare premium, you do not qualify. And, under this bill, insurance companies can charge much higher premiums, literally five times the cost, for older people than younger. Last time I checked, $2,000 multiplied by five was a lot more than $4,000.  But wait! There’s more to this infomercial! The GOP has foreseen that some people might not be able to afford these skyrocketing premiums, so they are allowing insurance companies to offer a vastly scaled back alternative, with high deductibles and only catastrophic coverage. So, these people can see only a small increase in their premium if they accept reduced coverage down to almost nothing. That’s a deal, right? Paying more for less! The new GOP answer for healthcare options.
  • Let’s take a closer look at what that tax credit might actually accomplish, shall we? How about the loss of health benefits through your employer? But, wait, you work for a large company, they are required to provide health insurance benefits to their employees, so you are good. Guess again. This bill repeals that requirement, which will have significant repercussions to healthcare. First, large companies who enjoy paying a vast number of employees poverty wages (looking right at you, Wal-Mart) will no longer be required to offer health insurance to full time workers. Those workers will not be compensated for that loss in their paycheck. They will literally just be working for even less money. Sure, they can get the meager tax cut that will not come anywhere near covering the average medical plan. So, in turn, the poor just got poorer. Companies who offer benefits packages as incentives to their employees may also feel less need to stick with the healthcare business. Here is why. Healthcare benefits, both what the employer pays and the the employee contribution to it, have thus far been non taxable. They have always had the option of just giving their employees a lump sum or an allotted amount to purchase their own benefits, but that money is taxable, which means the employee gets a big chunk less money and has to make up that difference out of their own pocket. With the tax credit, it will basically offset that tax burden for the employee and they can get whatever coverage they want. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Except, that $10,000 extra they give you for health insurance means your salary just went up $10,000. It would effectively mean that anyone making $65,000 before would see a reduction in their tax credit. It also means they will not be able to collectively bargain for insurance rates to get better premiums and the older they are, the higher that rate. Yet, the tax credit incentive is likely to motivate many companies to reduce their own human resources costs by eliminating healthcare packages. Oh, and if your employer provided healthcare is terminated, you will have less than two months to replace it. It will likely mean the phasing out of healthcare incentive packages provided by employers. When you take away collective bargaining, there will be nothing to keep premiums in check.
  • Oh, and we certainly cannot forget, that if you purchase a plan on the open market that happens to cover abortions, you are not eligible for the tax credit, either.
  • The Congressional Budget Office says it cannot score the bill. Which basically means they have no way of calculating how much it would cost. Well, I have a good idea about that. Likely, not a whole lot. I am betting it will be really cheap. Why? Well, a large portion of people now covered under the marketplace will not be able to even remotely afford the non-subsidized premiums. Now, so you can get a handle on this, right now a very basic health insurance plan on the marketplace for a married couple is running about $750 a month. That is what the Insurance company says it really costs. (this is variable, of course, but an example from someone I know who purchases insurance through the ACA on the marketplace. So it is a real figure).  With the ACA subsidies, that premium is reduced to $73 per month. Now, this is reasonably affordable for a young couple who doesn’t make a ton of money. They, and pretty much everyone like them, cannot afford the non-subsidized marketplace premiums, even with the tax credit. Even if they each get a $2,000 tax credit, that will only be seen next year when they file their taxes, they will still need to come up with and additional $4,124 over what they were paying before for the exact same coverage.  That is not reasonable, which means they will be unlikely to continue coverage, just like everyone else in their situation. If they do not continue their coverage, they will not be eligible for the tax credit. Which means, now you see it, the government spends nothing. So, when you include the dramatic federal decreases to Medicaid and the tax credit that few people will ever use, this plan gets cheaper all the time.
  • The Republicans out touting this bill, trying to boost public support and whip the party into backing it, really aren’t even attempting to hide their disdain for the poor, or the fact that literally millions of US Citizens will lose access to affordable healthcare. House Representative Jason Chaffetz, (R) from Utah, has been plastered across the news and internet promoting the idea that the poor just don’t deserve healthcare. I hope this quote is painted across billboards when he is up for re-election. “Maybe rather than get that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.”  Yes, Rep. Chaffetz, because that makes so much sense. Because there are so many marketplace policies out there for $31 a month. That is the equivalent of what these poor people are paying for that iPhone compared to the $325 a month you think they should be able to invest in their healthcare. The GOP shows, every time they open their mouths, that they have no clue how the majority of us live. Most people do not have the money to go out and buy the new iPhone, Rep. Chaffetz. They pay it out over a two year contract with a service provider. They don’t have an extra $749 just sitting around. But two months of your healthcare plan would pay for that phone. The GOP just doesn’t believe poor or low income people deserve healthcare. They don’t deserve to have the same kinds of fun or nice things the rich do. They don’t deserve fair, livable wages. They don’t deserve reproductive rights. They don’t deserve equal opportunities at education. They don’t deserve decent food. They don’t deserve clean water. They don’t deserve safe housing. They don’t deserve the American Dream, because, if they did, they wouldn’t be poor, would they? We get it, Chaffetz. We understand you perfectly.

So, you see, with millions of people priced out of health coverage options and no Medicaid safety net for the majority of them, the inflated rates and reduced coverage being proposed to Medicare (and again, loss of the Medicaid safety net for the majority), people will lose access to our system of overpriced, commodity based, healthcare. People will die. A lot of people will die. And the people who die will be the poor and lower income, the homeless and the elderly. So that just solves all the GOP’s problems, doesn’t it? They can literally reduce homelessness, raise the median income (because you can’t average in the income of dead people) and make Social Security and Medicare permanently solvent (again, you don’t need to pay benefits to dead people) without spending hardly anything! They may have to kill off a few million ‘undesirable leeches,’  but that’s easy, just pass the UnAffordable Healthcare Act to do it. Problems solved.

We are One Woman, One World

Ann Lavendar-Truong

citations:

https://thinkprogress.org/gop-obamacare-replacement-plan-6878fd85a8fd#.5eapq1e66http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/healthcare-sold-separately-internet-ruthlessly-mocks-trumpcare-vs-obamacare/#.WL6n2K6jYFE.twitterhttps://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/us/politics/affordable-care-act-obamacare-health.htmlhttps://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/03/american-health-care-act-obamacare-cliff/518769/?utm_source=atlfbhttp://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/holy-cats-republican-health-care-plan-even-worse-i-thoughthttps://www.medicareresources.org/blog/2015/11/04/is-medicare-on-the-brink-of-insolvency/http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/healthcare-2/chaffetz-tells-you-to-stop-buying-iphones-to-afford-insurance-under-trumpcare-in-wtf-moment-video/

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To Trump: Hear My VOICE.

Trump’s VOICE is hateful and nothing more than a propaganda machine to push his divisive rhetoric. When they do not have a story for “illegal” immigrants, it will quickly turn to the “legal” ones. This will become (and in many places already has) a war against anyone who is not a citizen, or doesn’t “look” like a citizen; more xenophobia at its worst.

My husband is a legal permanent resident, since the ’70’s. He is supposed to be 100% protected from deportation. He grew up here, escaping Vietnam as a small child. Legal residents are now scrambling to naturalize into citizenship because they are afraid those promises, like the one made to him,  will become meaningless, that with the stroke of a pen, the rights and safety they were guaranteed will be invalidated.

And how long until even their right to protest or have an opinion is stripped from them? How long before their opinion of our president or his policies  becomes a qualification or disqualification for legal residence or citizenship? How long before an immigrant protesting is stripped of their legal status and deported, their assets seized? With a stroke of a pen it can happen. As those who have been illegally detained by customs officials despite the judicial ruling against the Muslim Ban can tell you, the power of the Presidency is far reaching, and most especially in relation to immigration. It has the power to effectively silence dissent in the immigrant population.

I am ashamed of a country that has caused such fear among the people who live in it, turning them blindly upon one another. I am ashamed that our promise to the world, to all those seeking opportunity, safety, hope and freedom, has been rendered a lie. It is up to us to destroy that lie, to raise our flag into the air and wave its promise truthfully to the world once more.

People should never be illegal. We will never save ourselves by hiding, closing our doors, and fearing our neighbors. Cowards are never heroes and they never forge a path to greatness. We must stand together and be brave, to resist against the clamoring of cowards lost in the nonsense of their fear. We must fight against those who spur and use that fear to their own greedy ends.

I will fight for my husband. I will fight for my neighbors. I will fight to restore the idea of what our country should be, for our hope and our future. So, if Trump wants a VOICE, he can hear mine. Because, resisting him is my birthright. I do not fear retribution. Unlike those I am willing to fight for, no stroke of his pen can take my rights or my voice away. He cannot silence me or those citizens who stand with me. Together, we can ensure a future where every person has a voice, where no one is silenced, where being alive is not a crime… Where birthright is replaced by birth and rights are inalienable.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar-Truong

photo credit: AP/John Amis

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Only Yes Means Yes: The Courts and Rape Culture, Redefining Consent

2016 was a seriously crappy year. In fact, if you were comparing dung piles, 2015 was like a toy poodle’s brown, lumpy work of yard art and 2016 looked like a giant Bull Elephant had an especially grand bowel movement- in your living room. So, when I say it was a crappy year, now you have a full, working mental picture of exactly what I mean.

The fact that it was an especially bitter and horrible election year was bad enough. The fact that ‘alt right’ (previously just known as racists and white supremacists) ventured into the mainstream and were welcomed was enough to make most of us sick. The fact that it was given a total pass by so many made us even sicker. Police brutality was brought to the fore with shining spotlights, caught on camera by ordinary citizens, in undeniable, HD quality; bringing to light injustice is never a bad thing. The ferocious backlash we witnessed in society against those actually seeking justice, however,  was deplorable. And we saw far too much of it. And then, there was the misogyny. Wow. just wow. Women were belittled beyond measure, from Trump’s pulpit to the courtroom. Women, and the rights to their own bodies, were marginalized repeatedly.

And when I say the rights to their own bodies, I’m not just talking reproductive choices. Yes, I am pro-choice, and if you want to know why, click here. But this article isn’t about that kind of choice. This is before that. Like the choice of having sex or not. It is about consent. It is about how consent is never ambiguous. It is about how I don’t have to say no. No is always the implied. The answer is ALWAYS no, unless a woman specifically says yes. There is no ambiguity there. To give consent for something is to say, “Yes.” Consent is not defined as the absence of saying “no.”

So, why is this so important? Why is defining this so crucial? Because 2016 proved that judges seem to be freaking morons. Because it became overwhelmingly apparent as the year progressed that our judicial branch had a serious lack of fundamental vocabulary skills, where they came to the conclusion that rape and sexual assault isn’t so much of a crime if a woman is intoxicated. In fact, an appellant court in Oklahoma ruled that sodomy without consent wasn’t even illegal if the victim was intoxicated because the law did not specifically provide for being incapacitated due to intoxication. I’m pretty sure it did not specifically provide for slipping on ice, a sudden drop in blood pressure causing someone to faint or a tree branch falling and whacking you on the head, either, or a drug induced sleep  (like anesthesia) or a host (millions) of other specific elements which could cause a person to be unconscious, aside from intoxication by alcohol. Some people chose to blame the law for being too vague. I am not of that opinion (though thankfully Oklahoma made a very quick legislative effort to correct any ‘misunderstandings’ by the courts).  The real problem is the same reason a frat boy gets a couple of months for raping a girl behind a dumpster, or a man gets sixty days of time served for repeatedly raping his daughter, because we place all the responsibility on the victim. If the victim was drinking it was her fault. If she didn’t report it, it was her fault. If she was wearing revealing clothes, it was her fault. If she has had sex before, it is her fault. If she accepts a ride home with a guy, it is her fault. If she goes to a party, it is her fault. If she (fill in the blank here) it is her fault. The courts have been attempting to define consent as not saying no, regardless of the victim’s capacity to say anything at all.

Consent is saying, “Yes.” Consent is having the ability to comprehend what you are agreeing to. The message the courts are sending, over and over again, is that women do not have ultimate rights over their own bodies, that they can be forcibly taken, that they can be used, that their safety and sovereignty as a whole human being is less important than a perpetrators whims and exploits and desire for domination. They don’t like to hear rape cases, not because because of the heinous act, but rather because it is an uncomfortable truth, distasteful and rooted in a misogynistic view that women should be chaste and pure and that loose women get what they deserve. It perpetuates this notion that men are primal and can’t control themselves, therefore, women must adhere to different social rules. That is what we are teaching these boys, that they can act on impulse, that they are entitled to act on impulse. They are being taught to, “grab them by the pussy,” just because they can. We saw privileged men such as Turner and Wilkerson and the unnamed seventeen year old assailant in Oklahoma, receive ridiculous sentences which were little more than slaps on wrist or complete acquittal because their future, their lives, their autonomy was deemed more valuable than those of their victims.  And they hinge it all on victim blaming and redefining the meaning of consent.

I suggest we stop this campaign of , “No means no.” We are evidently sending the wrong message. It is, apparently, being taken to imply that women must say no, or have the capacity to do so. Perhaps we should try a more positive approach. Maybe, “Yes mean yes.” or “Yes means consent, silence or anything else means no, you sick bastard.”  (I kinda prefer the latter).  Perhaps if we firmly establish defining consent as specific approval (which is what it seems to mean in every other aspect of law), and we continue our outrage against a misogynistic judicial system, then maybe we can stop giving a free pass to mistreat and violate women. Maybe we could begin accepting that women are whole persons in our society and that they do not exist under separate laws and separate freedoms. Our bodies, our choice.

So, while I applaud efforts to effectively update laws to be more inclusive and require harsher punishments, we need states to address the fundamental issue: make a no-excuses definition of consent to mean an individual gives absolute permission to take part in any form of sexual activity, with complete knowledge and understanding of that consent, and if they are incapacitated in any way which would otherwise prevent them from being bound by any other legal contract, then that consent is invalid, as the person does not have the mental clarity or comprehension of consequences to consensually take part in what could be a life altering contract or event. (You know, like how you can’t just get someone drunk and convince them to sign over the deed to their house or the title of their car… except this is your BODY, and you have no idea if that person has an STD, HIV, is using protection, if you could get pregnant, etc. So yes, life-changing consequences which you should be able to make a rational decision regarding.)

I know… that is pretty darned drastic! Why that would make men have to be really freaking responsible about having sex, especially if their idea of a fun night is getting a girl drunk and getting laid. Getting a girl drunk and taking advantage of her might be considered rape, especially if he intentionally used alcohol to alter her thought and decision making process so she would do something she otherwise would not have agreed to do.  Men never do things like that, do they? But they don’t consider it rape, they just think it is loosening her up so her boundaries get a little fuzzy and she is more ‘open minded.’  Is that a crime?

Yes.

Now, I’m not saying men and women can’t drink and have sex. Sure they can. I am saying it is outright wrong to use a drug to alter someone’s perceptions and then use that as an advantage to have sex with them when they, under normal circumstances, would not agree. And, by the way, that goes both ways. Women shouldn’t use alcohol, or any other substance, to influence a man to have sex with them, either. Yes, girls, that is rape, too. Don’t be a predator. But between consenting individuals who want to drink and have sex together just because that’s what they like to do, have at it. And how is a guy supposed to know? Well, he can ask. He can be honest, tell her he doesn’t want to get the wrong idea and doesn’t want to impose on her. Women will just have to get over being insulted by honesty. If you aren’t interested in drinking and having sex with him, politely say no. Don’t be a bitch about it. He is being responsible and he just gave you a choice while you were still rational enough to make it. Don’t discourage him from giving that choice to someone else. Men, don’t be an asshat when you ask. Be respectful. Also remember, if she changes her mind, it is a no go, I don’t care if your pants are already on the floor.

Also, boys and girls, if you are not old enough to sign a legal contract, you are not old enough for consensual sex. I’m sorry. I know it seems like fun. I know you see it on television, the internet and the movies, but here is the thing: irresponsible sex can screw up your life. Seriously. And if you think oral sex is safe, think again. You can still get awesome things like Herpes and other STDs . If you are being pressured into sex, that is a form of rape. If you are pressuring someone to have sex with you, then you are invading their personal safety. If they don’t say yes without having to be convinced, then that, my friends, is a no.

Which brings us back to the meaning of consent. Only Yes means Yes. Period. Only a sober Yes means Yes. Only a conscious person can say yes. Forget No mean No. It does, but it should never come to that because it is always no in the absence of yes. We need to send this message loud and clear to both our judiciary and legislative branches so that there is no longer even a sliver of ambiguity. We must define consent by what it actually is. Consent is saying yes, not the absence of saying no.

We are One woman, One World.

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Remembering US Presidents who had a positive impact on furthering equality in our nation

Today we honor President’s Day, the achievements of great leaders from our past who stepped up and did what was right, or at least helped lead to what is right, even when it was not the most popular of choices. Because this blog deals with equality, not just for women but all people, I felt the best way to celebrate would be to highlight these decisions by our presidents passed who sought to bring our country together, honor our diversity and promote inclusion of all people. While some of these achievements listed were definitely imperfect, they paved the way to future progress and were, most likely at the time, the furthest reaching they could get away with. Changing a nation comes in steps and is a slower progress than we would like to  admit. Great leaders know this and understand that small steps can accomplish more to change the temperament of a society, to make it more accepting and realize irrational fears are just that: irrational. Every single one of these decisions through our history were vigilantly opposed, yet these presidents stood firm towards a progress they hoped would someday be fully realized, even if they only contributed a small step towards it. While the battles ahead are assured to be arduous, we give thanks for the battles behind which give us the strength to know progress is possible. So, here is my appreciation for those presidents in our nation’s history who helped pave the way forward to equality.

Abraham Lincoln: Served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 freeing all slaves in the United States.

Andrew Johnson: Served as the 17th President of the United States, from 1865 to 1869. In 1865 he awarded Ms. Mary Edwards Walker the Congressional Medal of Honor for “devotion and patriotic zeal to sick and wounded soldiers both in the field and in hospitals to the detriment of her own health.”

Harry S. Truman: Served as the 33rd President of the United States from 1945 to 1953. He signed an executive order declaring equal treatment and opportunity for advancement for all persons in the military regardless to race, color, religion or national origin. On June 12, 1948 he signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act which allowed women to serve as permanent, regular members of the armed forces in the Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force.

John F. Kennedy: Served as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.  In 1961 he signed executive order 10925 which established the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and appointed Eleanor Roosevelt as the Chairwoman. On June 10, 1963, he signed into law the Equal Pay Act of 1963 to abolish wage disparity based on gender.

Lyndon B. Johnson: Served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969. In 1964 on July 2, he signed the Civil rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion,  and national origin  and he established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 1967 he signed executive order 11375 to expand the Affirmative Action Policy of 1965 to cover discrimination based on gender. On April 11, 1968 he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing.

Jimmy Carter: Served as the 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. On October 31, 1978 he signed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act  prohibiting employment and workplace discrimination against women because they were or could become pregnant.

George H. W. Bush: Served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. On November 22, 1991 he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1991 strengthening existing civil rights laws and providing for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.

Bill Clinton: Served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001.  On November 30, 1993 he signed the Military Policy Directive known as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While the policy required gay and lesbian soldiers to keep their sexuality secret, it was a step forward because they could no longer be questioned or singled out due to speculation of their sexuality. While far from perfect in securing equal LGBT rights, it opened the door to proving that LGBT were not a threat to security and that the military could function perfectly well with Gay and Lesbian soldiers in their ranks. It was a baby step towards a larger goal. On September 13, 1994 he signed the Violence Against Women Act.

Barack Obama: Served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017. On January 29, 2009 he signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act into law, allowing victims of pay discrimination to file complaints with the government against employers within 180 days of their last paycheck. On February 19, 2009 he signed executive order number 13503 establishing the White House Office of Urban Affairs. On March 11, 2009 he signed executive order number 13506 establishing the White House Council on Women and Girls. On August 12, 2009 he awarded Harry Milk the Medal of Freedom. On October 14, 2009 he signed executive order 13515 Increasing Participation of Asian Americans and Pacific islanders in Federal Programs.  On October 28, 2009 he signed the Mathew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. February 26, 2010 he signed executive order 13532 Promoting Excellence, Innovation and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. October 19, 2010 executive order 13555 enabled the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. On December 22, 2010 he signed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, allowing Gay and Lesbian citizens to serve openly in the armed forces.  On December 2, 2011 he signed executive order number 13592 Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and strengthened Tribal Colleges and Universities. On July 26, 2012 he signed executive order number 12321 implementing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.  On August 10, 2012 executive order 13623 was signed Preventing and Responding to Violence against Women and Girls Globally. In 2013 he signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. He also signed executive order 13647 on June 26, 2013 establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs. On July 31, 2014 he signed executive order 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplace. In May of 2016 he issued a Presidential Directive to schools regarding transgender bathroom rights. While this was not a binding law, it did provide federal protections to the transgender community.

These presidents all played a role in paving the way for racial, gender, religious and LGBT equality. I am sure I did not list every achievement or action, as there is more information available on more recent presidencies, so please feel free to contribute additional actions in the comment section.

I hope we all can take a moment, this day, to recognize those presidents who used their position to bring our country and its people closer together, embracing our diversity rather than using our differences to divide us. These men, as imperfect as some of their policies may have been,  saw and acted upon  opportunities in their service to make our country a freer and more equal place. Even a stepping stone was still a step in the right direction.

As citizens, it is our job to ensure the continuation of this evolution in our society and not allow achievements to be lost, reversed or progress stagnated. The greatest presidential accomplishments have always been those which united our people under a single banner of citizenship and welcomed all those contributing to what has been historically called, “The American Dream.” Today, let us dream together of a better world, a better country, which values and prizes each individual on their personal merit and achievement without regard to race, sex, sexuality, national origin or religion. I can think of no better way to honor president’s day than by declaring, loud and clear, our hope for a future of universal equality.

We are One Woman, One World.

 

resources:

http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/19/us/lgbt-rights-milestones-fast-facts/

http://civilrights.findlaw.com/civil-rights-overview/civil-rights-law-and-history.html

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/civilrightstimeline1.html

http://www.usnews.com/news/the-report/articles/2017-01-20/timeline-the-womens-rights-movement-in-the-us

https://propresobama.org/2013/03/28/us-womens-rights-movement-timeline-1848-jan-2017/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_ask,_don’t_tell

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obama-administration-title-ix-transgender-student-rights-223149

https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/obama.html                                            

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

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Ovarian Legislation: The Underlying Agenda

And so the truth is revealed.

Misogynistic legislation, meant to control the bodies of women and their choices, is absolutely nothing more than exactly that: laws specifically designed to control women and force them into a Biblical servitude they neither want nor believe in. The “Pro-Life” hid behind the façade of something so simplistic it was difficult to fault them for their belief, or even their zealous fervor. I mean, no one wants to kill babies, right? To the average passerby, it seemed reasonable enough. Pro-choice also seemed reasonable, especially in light of many circumstances. The Pro-Life crowd painted horrific pictures of babies being slaughtered by the millions, women using abortion as birth control, murdering babies ready to be born. (In today’s world, we call that Fake News  or  Alternative Facts).

But despite the religious efforts of these zealots, people became more and more educated. Women’s rights advocates stood up and published the truth even though they were vilified for doing so. The term Feminist became a dirty, negative word to suggest women who would just not be reasonable and accept their place in society. Yet, they persisted, and thanks to them, the public became educated. Today, the right to choose is supported by more than seventy percent of the population in the United States. If you think this sealed the deal for women and reproductive rights, then you haven’t seen a news program, been on social media, been on the internet, or likely left your house in several years. The other less-than-thirty-percent are not only extra loud, they are in control of the government. Many people, who haven’t considered abortion to be a real political issue in decades because it seemed like settled law, voted for some of these people based on other concerns. These voters thought the “pro-birth” rhetoric was nothing more than that, just empty campaign promises to pull in the far right. They were wrong. They were also wrong about thinking the actual agenda is to save babies, because it isn’t.

The façade around the pro-life camp has been slipping for years. Decades, actually. They made no attempt to hide their religious ideology and, despite absolutely no support for their claims in the Bible, they liberally use odd passages to support a preconceived idea. Basically, they decided abortion was wrong first and then went looking for some religious text to support their conclusion. When they didn’t find it, (I am sure that was terribly disappointing) they used odd verses about God knowing them in the womb to support their idea. Many have actually told me that there weren’t abortions back then, so they would not be mentioned directly. I love that argument.

The truth, something I find these people have a difficult time digesting, is that if their Bible had intended abortion to be against God’s law, it would have stated so quite plainly. Why? Because almost every other religious text dating as far back as the ancient Sumerians addresses abortion. Yeah, it is that old. Now Sumer was around between about 5400-1750 BCE. The Egyptians also had laws regarding abortions. So did the Greeks and the Romans. Now, we should expect this because so many of these cultures believed in and worshipped fertility gods. Makes a lot of sense. But abortion was conspicuously left out of the Bible. Some would actually assert that this was to differentiate them from Pagans. It was also, quite noticeably, not addressed in the New Testament. In fact, the Bible bestows little to no value on both the unborn and the new born. This is understandable as infant mortality rates were quite tragic. But this is not the only flaw in the pro-life movement, not the only wrinkle in what would seem like a reasonable idea.

What distinguishes the pro-life movement as not actually being about the concern for unborn babies is their complete lack of compassion for a single, pregnant mother who cannot afford prenatal care, or a single mom who needs assistance to feed her child, or house that child. When compassion does not extend beyond the womb a great truth is revealed. The ideology is further degraded by their lack of support for social birth control efforts to prevent undesired pregnancies. It is a statistical, proven fact that social availability of birth control reduces abortion rates. But this is not supported by the exact same people who do not want women to have abortions. Hmmm?  In fact, now that these people have control in government, they are working tirelessly, and openly, to further RESTRICT the availability of birth control. The laws they seek to pass would mean tens of millions of women would not have health coverage for prescribed birth control. They are now openly claiming that birth control kills babies, as well, and hope to see it abolished. Think about that.  What does that mean?

Well, it means this was never about abortion. This was never about saving babies. And while abortion, itself, is not mentioned in the Bible, the religious text has no shortcomings on dictating the lack of sexual (or otherwise) freedom a woman is entitled to. This is about controlling half the population. This is about the patriarchy in the religious right maintaining a firm control to dictate what a woman is supposed to be, what a woman is supposed to do. This is about enforcing religious laws on the populace under the guise of saving babies. It is designed by conception to demonize anyone opposing it as a baby-killer. However, if this actually had anything to do with those babies, these same activists would be  lobbying for social programs to feed, house and clothe these children. They would be eager to provide support for pregnant women. But, instead, they don’t want the government to handle that. Those are issues which should be handled by charities so the population has a choice if they wish to participate or not. They want the government to dictate that women can’t have sex without accepting pregnancy as a probable outcome and force them to have children whether they wish to or not, but helping to support the ‘shameful’ pregnancies and the subsequent children should not be a burden to the taxpayers. They are not seeking to dictate the terms of birth, but women’s sexuality and the freedom of their bodies. It is not just taking away the choice of whether or not to have a child, but circumventing non-marital sex. When the healthcare  plan under consideration allows insurers to exclude maternity care for single women, based solely on the fact that they are not MARRIED, the absolute truth is revealed.

The pro-birth movement HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SAVING BABIES. It is a lie. They are lying to people to gain support based on the general idea that saving babies is a good thing. They are using unborn children in a most disgusting and deplorable way. They are demonizing the tragedies, heartache and difficulties of women led to make that decision by circumstances completely unique to each. They do this all for a greater purpose, to reign back in control over women and their sexuality; to bring women back under the thumbs of men and dictate the rules of sex in our civilization. Notice how they are not trying to regulate men or the actions of men, but according to congressmen and senators on the right, women only have two choices, to conceive or not conceive, to have sex or not have sex and, evidently, pregnancy is one of the only blessings of rape. Now, let that sink in.

This is the dangerous road we are on. We are on a path to hypocritical, Biblical tyranny. This is why we must fight and keep fighting. We all would like to see fewer abortions. That is a fact. The difference between us is that on the feminist side, we hope to achieve this through educating people about sex and how pregnancy actually happens and giving options which drastically decrease the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies. We also seek to provide options and help for those who choose to have their child and fully support that decision by ensuring prenatal care and child wellness programs. Yeah, we actually care about those babies and their life, not just their birth. We do not ridicule a single mother or shame her. We do not drive teenage girls to suicide or to butchers. We do not shame women for having sex .and we do not support taking away their rights to regulate their reproductive system. We do not place the sole responsibility of sex on women, nor make women responsible for the bad behavior of men. We do not discard a child or label it an unwanted burden on society because of his or her parentage or financial status. We never see any child as illegitimate. The pro-birth camp cannot claim any of those things. Interesting how they claim to be pro-life, isn’t it? But then again, they are no strangers to hypocrisy.

The seventy percent need to make sure they are heard, loud and clear, because it is far, far more than abortion at stake. They want to take away all of our rights to plan our own families by dictating legal sexual behavior, even in matrimony. They want to reign sex back in under their idea of god’s law. They want to subjugate women so that they aspire to be wives and mothers and helpers to their husbands instead of free, independent people challenging the patriarchal establishment in society. Don’t be fooled. Their true colors are blatantly revealed.

We are One Woman, One World.

Links to ponder:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/11/29/trump_s_first_step_toward_impeding_birth_control_access_is_making_tom_price.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/republican-war-birth-control-contraception

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/religious-right-activists-argue-for-recriminalization-of-birth-control-in-the-birth-control-movie/

https://rewire.news/article/2016/03/21/birth-control-benefit-timeline/

http://www.salon.com/2017/01/19/war-on-birth-control-incoming-hhs-secretary-tom-price-can-seriously-damage-contraception-access-even-under-obamacare/

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/make-birth-control-expensive-again

http://www.salon.com/2017/01/07/a-new-war-on-birth-control-trumps-victory-has-empowered-the-sex-scolds/

http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/the-senate-just-voted-to-roll-back-womens-healthcare.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/18-distressing-things-gop-members-have-said-about-abortion-and-planned-parenthood_us_5612ce63e4b0dd85030ce49b

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Are You Feeling Safe Yet?

Trumpaloompa has done absolutely nothing to unite this country. This country of immigrants. This country of refugees. He continues, executive order after order, to inflict his small, bigoted mind on the masses.  His Middle East ban is nothing short of a ban on Muslims, a method to discriminate based on religion. We know this because Trumpaloompa ensures that Christians will be given priority. But, hey, you alt-right so-called Christian conservatives, Trump’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. He got a Muslim ban for you, like he promised, but he couldn’t quite take it far enough to threaten his own pocket book. So, he left out all the countries where he has business ties, you know, the ones where actual deadly terrorists, who attacked the US on US soil and killed US Citizens actually came from. So, he is with you, so long as it doesn’t hurt his profits.

And in case anyone ever has any question about how I feel on this issue, here is some info for you to digest. I am married to a refugee. My husband had to escape a war torn country (that the US was at war with and lost) as a child, with his family. My husband, who is an absolutely wonderful man, was once a desperate child on a boat trying not to die, watching as others were killed or lost to disease and famine. He has been in the United Sates for thirty-seven years and he is thankful for his life here. He is a resident alien.

When I see these children, I see him. I wonder what would have been his life if he had been turned away because of someone’s unjustified fears? Are you really such a coward that you would sacrifice countless lives to hide from the fractional percent of danger that someone might pose? Is your faith that small? I would rather die today doing the right thing than live a long life cowering behind the sacrificed, innocent lives of others. And if you are not willing to die or sacrifice yourself, or even your own convenience, to do what is morally responsible and just, then you have no business calling yourself a Christian. You have forsaken your god for an idol; you have placed more value on yourself than your faith. You are a coward.

We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of refugees who came here in the hopes of a whispered promise.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My husband’s mother smuggled her children out of a Communist won country, suffered through pirate attacks, were lost at sea and were left to die by passing ships. A last pirate attack proved they had nothing left to take, no food, no valuables, nothing but a slowly sinking vessel.  So the pirates towed them to a sand bar which allowed them to walk into Thailand, where they spent more than a year in a refugee camp. Not all of their family survived the journey. The atrocities he witnessed are chilling. Were it not for the compassion of those last pirates, he and his family, along with many others, would have died. So when I look at what we are doing today, what I see is that we have less compassion, less moral aptitude, than pirates. We truly are, collectively, cowards brandishing our chest and might, hiding our fear behind a false show of strength to disguise how hollow we are inside. Empty.

The Trumpaloompa administration has now come after immigrants. It has challenged religious freedom by attacking Muslims. Next on the slate, per released White House leaks, is an executive order against the LGBT community. Are you complacent because you are not an immigrant, or you are not Muslim or because you are not LGBT? Well, be reminded

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

We are all something. We each have something which can identify us. Women, Men,  LGBT, Minority, Religion or Atheist, Homeless, Poor, Elderly, Disabled, Middle Class, Sick, Unemployed, Under employed, Children, Veteran, Liberal, Conservative, Single Parent, Married… we all live behind labels. If you restrict anyone’s rights based on a label, it is real people who suffer and only because they are different. It becomes easier and easier to justify xenophobia. It becomes easier and easier to suppress those who are different. But eventually, you will come to realize that we are all different, when they come to suppress you.

I will not be a coward. Though I can never imagine being as brave or strong as my husband or his family, I will fight to help ensure that we remain the kind of nation which welcomes a child, seeing his or her potential, knowing their diversity gives us strength and hope. Though I know not every immigrant will be a good person, because that is not realistic, I refuse to use the excuse of the very few to justify cowardice. I will not disgrace my country by standing aside while cowards close our borders and hide, cowards who will never feel safe because there will always be someone who is different.

We are One Woman, One World.

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Are you equal enough?

While working on another article the last few days, I have been distracted by a bombardment of people, both men and women (though mostly men) filling the social media universe with condescending diatribe and snippets against the peaceful marches protesting Trump over the weekend. But out of all the hateful things said, the “alternate facts” given, and the disparaging comments, there is one, central theme I found the most disturbing. Repeatedly I saw women’s rights in the United States being compared to oppressed women in other places of the world, in an effort to point out how good women have it here as opposed to places where they are nothing more than property to men. This, above most other arguments, reveals the embedded misogyny in our culture. Why does it reveal so much?

This argument says you have it better here than somewhere else, so you should be thankful. The implication is that these are not your rights, so much as privileges which could be revoked. It is the same method used by abusers to rationalize and normalize mistreatment. Abusers tell their victim that smacking them here and there isn’t really abusive, because they don’t have black eyes, a bloody nose, or broken bones. They tell their victim how much worse someone else has it, how those are the people who are really abused, and remind the victim what all the abuser does for them, so they should be thankful. Abusers use this language to undermine the value of those they overpower, by making them believe they should be thankful their life is not worse, to make them feel guilty for wanting more; make them ashamed and feel greedy at the thought of a better life. It is a psychological abuse to keep them in line and under the abuser’s control.

Now the deep, abusive misogyny is revealed. Equality is not based on someone’s misfortune. We do not measure our freedom against those who are oppressed in other places in the world. The measurement of our equality, the measurement of our value and our rights are against our fellow citizens. And we are not equal.

The white patriarchy of this country enjoyed designing for itself a system of great rewards. That constitution we hold so dear did not apply to lesser humans, like women and minorities. We have been forced to fight for every single right, every tiny step towards equality was a monumental struggle: in women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, and actual religious freedoms.

It is time we see the patriarchy for what it is, and those who support it for who they are. It is an abusive spouse continually trying to shame us for wanting more, telling us to be thankful for what we are given because it could be so much worse. They seek to distract us with our own shame, so we will fall in the line of complacent obedience. They tell us we should be grateful. They tell us we are equal enough.

But women are still fighting for the right to govern their own bodies. The wage gap between men and women is between 53% to 75% depending on your minority status. Girls are taught in school that they must dress certain ways or they will distract boys, meaning a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s and that girls are responsible for the behavior of boys. The judicial system continually dismisses or hands down ridiculously light sentences to men who commit violent crimes against women. Sexual consent is defined as not saying no, rather than saying yes. Victims of rape are shamed for what they wear or drink instead of rapists being held accountable for their actions. Black communities are targeted by law enforcement to fill private prison quotas. Prisons have become the new slave drivers. Healthcare is a for-profit commodity extorting money from the most vulnerable of people. Child poverty, hunger and homelessness is actually still a problem. People are being attacked for what bathroom they use. The disabled are being ridiculed and education funds are being ripped away from schools to care for and enable  our special needs children. A woman seeking an abortion is condemned, but an unwed mother is shamed. Men with money buy political power and influence while paying less in taxes, while people working just to survive foot the government’s bill. Corporations are given more authority and rights than citizens, allowed to destroy properties and undermine the natural resources necessary for life for communities, all in the name of profit. The EPA, FDA and even the Parks and Wildlife Administration are no longer allowed to answer to the people. Citizens can no longer call the Whitehouse, the People’s House, with complaints or concerns. Doctors no longer are required to treat patients regardless of their sexual orientation or social choices. People can be denied medical attention based on the religious ideologies of the doctor or facility. This also means that employers will be able to discriminate against employees, or the hiring of employees, based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or any bigoted idea they can claim as part of their religion. Minimum wage has failed to increase with cost of living and the tax cuts given to corporations in the Trickle Down Economics Theory did not consider that the benefits would trickle no further than the top, making the corporate executives far wealthier while maintaining the lowest possible wages for employees. The minimum wage was not created for part-time students. It was created to ensure that hard working people earned a reasonable wage to live. Congress and the the Senate give themselves cost of living raises, but don’t seem to think the citizens of the United States require a livable wage to survive.

But you are supposed to feel equal enough. You are supposed to be thankful it isn’t worse. You are supposed to take what you are given like it is some great gift you didn’t earn, rather than your right as a human being. You have a right to your body and should not have to ask anyone for permission or their approval to exercise that right. You do not have to accept public shame for crimes committed against you. You do not have to accept less pay for the same work. You do not have to accept pollution in your community because it benefits corporate profits. You should not have to suffer or die, or watch those you love be consumed by illness because you can’t afford designer healthcare. People should not be living in abject poverty while working full time jobs. You never should be forced to hide who you are or who you love. You should never have to fear the police.

Being thankful for what you have does not make you equal. United, we must stand against this abusive ideology. When you see this thrown at you, call it out for what it is. Ask them if what they really mean is that we are equal enough so we should stop complaining.

I refuse to accept their abuse with complacency. I refuse to be their subjected victim. I am going to continue to fight, to fight back, because NO. We are not equal enough.

We are One Woman, One World.

Women’s Global March

photo credit: http://designedthinking.com/

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