Friday, June 28, 2013

DOMA, VRA, #StandWithWendy and Me

What a victory! DOMA ended! Prop 8 not upheld! True marriage equality feels closer than ever!

I am happy. My marriage, at least legally, has been simple and easy. But I feel an acute kinship with the folks fighting for their right to marry and be recognized nationally; 50 years ago my interracial marriage would have been illegal in some states. I hope, like Loving vs. Virginia, that we will soon have a sweeping ruling that implements marriage equity for all.

Yet, I feel unease hovering below the joy.

The Supreme Court acted making the Voting Rights Act impossible to enforce. And while Texas Senator Wendy Davis lit a fire under many women's rights advocates, the ugly maneuvering behind the scenes, which might have worked had thousands of us not watched exactly what happened on the floor of the senate while cheering along on Twitter, proved again that many, many powerful white men think that they have a right to hold power over the rest of us.

And I worry.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton put their work for the rights of women on hold to fight for abolition. The common thought was "first abolition, then women's rights" but after slavery ended, the movement scattered. Some prominent abolitionists joined the Boston based American Woman's Suffrage Association, but the National Woman's Suffrage Association, the one Stanton and Anthony led that fought for an amendment to the constitution had very little support from the powerful white males who had worked for abolition. One hundred years later, during the Civil Rights Movement men discounted the oppression of women; the word "sex" was added to the Civil Rights Act at the very last moment, almost accidentally, by Senator Howard Smith (D-VA) but surely at the behest of Alice Paul, the author of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Women are still disadvantaged on the tenure track, in equal pay, in business, and in politics. And white men in power constantly seek to regulate our health with the hidden agenda of regulating our sexuality. 

Women are taught to work through proper channels, to follow the rules; not to draw attention to ourselves unless it is by achieving the "perfect" hair or "summer legs" or "lips he'll want to kiss".

I am sick of it.

No, it's not time to let someone else go first. I was here in this god forsaken line for equality and dammit, it is MY TURN. It should have happened in 1920 when my grandmother voted in the first national election women were allowed to vote in, it should have happened for my mother during my childhood when we chose not to travel to states in the south that refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. If I have to wait for my granddaughters to have legally protected equal rights, I will be mad as hell.

Can you imagine the power to change the world and bend that arc toward justice if women had power and money? If women had support for parental leave that almost every other country has? If women earned on par with men, just think about the donations that could be made to elections, campaigns and work for justice. If women held power in corporations and politics at par with men, imagine how policy could be influenced.

Yes, I am happy that marriage equity has passed another legal hurdle. I really am.. It means the world to me that people I love can get married and those rights, at least nationally, will be uniform.

But let us not forget that half the population, more when you consider the sad and sorry state of gender rights beyond the binary, lack legal protection. We need equal rights for all people. Pretending that men, and in particular powerful, wealthy, well educated white men, do not have a profound advantage over the rest of us perpetuates injustice and limits our inherent right for freedom and equity for all.