Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dear Santorum: Go serve before you talk about our women in uniform

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(Pictured: SGT Monica Brown, awarded the Silver Star for valor, an extraordinary example of women who have served in combat)

Former Senator of Pennsylvania and current contender for the Republican Nomination, Rick Santorum, recently gave his opinion on women serving in combat roles in the military, stating female warriors are “too emotional” for the rigors of combat.

When asked by CNN’s John King if women should be permitted to serve in combat, Santorum stated, “I think that could be a very compromising situation where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types [re: women] of emotions that are involved.

He then appeared to backtrack his comments, later:

“I was talking about men’s emotional issues; not women. I mean, there’s a lot of issues. That’s just one of them. So my concern is being in combat in that situation instead of being focused on the mission, they may be more concerned with protecting someone who may be in a vulnerable position, a woman in a vulnerable position. You throw on top of that just simply physical strength and capability and you may be out there on a mission where it’s you and a woman and if you’re injured, the ability to transport that person back. And you know, there’s just, there are physical limitations.”

And of course, this isn’t the first time Santorum had made his views known on equality in the workplace, let alone the sphere of military operations.

In his book, It Takes a Family, Santorum writes, “Radical feminists have been making the pitch that justice demands that men and women be given an equal opportunity to make it to the top in the workplace.”

Yes, what a radical notion, indeed, that women should be treated equally alongside men.

For the record, we have two facts to establish here:

1. Rick Santorum has never served a day in his life in the military.

2. Both the public and military experts (p. 13, 2nd paragraph) agree that women should be permitted to serve in combat roles.

Coincidentally, the same year Rick Santorum started his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania, the first class of women cadets were starting their own military careers at the United States Military Academy at West Point, going through hell and back to prove their self-worth against a mysogynistic system that believed women are inferior to men in the military arts.

To date, 280,000 women have deployed in support of the War on Terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, 144 of them paying the ultimate sacrifice for their country and 865 being wounded.

They have served with valor, bravery, and competence against an enemy force that, while discriminating against their own women by keeping them from seeking equal rights in education and government roles, do not discriminate between men and women when pulling the trigger or detonating an IED.

So Rick, leave it to the professionals, the women who have been fighting on battlefields (legally or not) since the inception of this country, fighting while you attended law school, fighting while you ran for Congress and the Senate, and fighting to this day while you still, on the basis of absolutely no experience, feel free to comment on their abilities.

Back off.

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Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional; Headed to Supreme Court!

From Lisa Leff of the Associated Press:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California’s same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for a likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 – a response to an earlier state court decision that legalized gay marriage – was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

However, the appeals court said gay marriages cannot resume in the state until the deadline passes for Proposition 8 sponsors to appeal to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit. If such an appeal is filed, gay marriages will remain on hold until it’s resolved.

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling states.

Backers of Proposition 8 said they would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the 9th Circuit ruling.

“No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people,” said Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group based in Arizona that helped defend Proposition 8.

“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage – tried in San Francisco – turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” he said.

American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin, who formed the group along with director Rob Reiner to wage the court fight against Proposition 8, called the panel’s ruling “a historic victory.”

“The message it sends to young LGBT people, not only here in California but across the country, (is) that you can’t strip away a fundamental right, and gay marriage is a fundamental right that no one can strip away,” Griffin said. “Now that Proposition 8 has been declared unconstitutional, the people of California will very soon be able to once again realize their freedom to marry.”

More than 50 people who gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown San Francisco greeted the ruling with cheers. They held signs and waved rainbow flags.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for fairness, a victory for equality and a victory for justice,” said California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The appeals panel crafted a narrow decision that applies only to California, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine western states. California is the only one of those states where the ability for gays to marry was granted then rescinded.

“Whether under the Constitution same-sex couples may ever be denied the right to marry, a right that has long been enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, is an important and highly controversial question,” the court said. “We need not and do not answer the broader question in this case.”

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed before he issued his decision that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

The ruling came more than a year after the appeals court heard arguments in the case.

Proposition 8 backers had asked the 9th Circuit to set aside Walker’s ruling on both constitutional grounds and because of the thorny issue of the judge’s personal life. It was the first instance of an American jurist’s sexual orientation being cited as grounds for overturning a court decision.

Walker publicly revealed he was gay after he retired. However, supporters of the gay marriage ban argued that he had been obliged to previously reveal if he wanted to marry his partner – like the gay couples who sued to overturn the ban.

Walker’s successor as the chief federal judge in Northern California, James Ware, rejected those claims, and the 9th Circuit held a hearing on the conflict-of-interest question in December.

California voters passed Proposition 8 with 52 percent of the vote in November 2008, five months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage by striking down a pair of laws that had limited marriage to a man and a woman.

The ballot measure inserted the one man-one woman provision into the California Constitution, thereby overruling the court’s decision. It was the first such ban to take away marriage rights from same-sex couples after they had already secured them and its passage followed the most expensive campaign on a social issue in the nation’s history.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and the Law, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles, has estimated that 18,000 couples tied the knot during the four-month window before Proposition 8 took effect. The California Supreme Court upheld those marriages, but ruled that voters had properly enacted the law.

With same-sex marriages unlikely to resume in California any time soon, Love Honor Cherish, a gay rights group based in Los Angeles, plans to start gathering signatures for a November ballot initiative asking voters to repeal Proposition 8.

Virginia House passes bill bashing gay adoptions; children still without homes

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On Friday, the Virginia House of Delegates voted in favor, 71-28, of a bill that would allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples on the basis of freedom of religion.

Yes, you read that right. You see, in Virginia, homosexuality is still looked upon as a gateway to pedophilia, bestiality, polygamy, and a whole host of other unsavory practices. Plus, it’s just gross, right? I mean who wants to see two guys kiss each other and then, get kids on top of that?

The bill, which is expected to be passed by the Virginia Senate and subsequently signed by Gov. McDonnell, follows regulations adopted in December by the Virginia Board of Social Services to allow discrimination by private agencies on the basis of gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and family status.

This will make Virginia the second state to enact such a law, and of course, conservative organizations are absolutely in love with this.

“We are grateful that the House of Delegates and the Senate Rehab and Social Services Committee both see the need to protect private child placement agencies that are doing incredible work helping children and families around Virginia. A majority of Virginians recognize that these agencies are critical to providing the best possible outcomes for children,” said Virginia Cobb, President of the Family Foundation.

Yes, let’s provide the best possible outcome for children by restricting adoptions among private agencies only to those couples that fall in line with “appropriate” demographics.

Of course, Virginia, Gov. McDonnell, and Pres. Cobb all forget two facts:

1. Studies have shown that children do just fine growing up in households with gay parents.

2. There are always children in Virginia without parents.

What we have here is a legislative body that, for the sake of their own careers and/or religious beliefs, are putting politics ahead of children.

This isn’t just sad; it’s tragic.

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Susan G. Komen caves, restores funding to Planned Parenthood!

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Under enormous political pressure that threatened to destroy its reputation as the preeminent breast cancer awareness organization in the United States, Susan G. Komen announced on Friday that it would be restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.

“We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliatesto make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities,” said Nancy Brinker, the group’s founder.

Instead of cutting off funding to any organizations under investigation, Komen said it would not cut off funding to groups that are found guilty in a crinminal investigation.

For it’s part, Planned Parenthood was just as swift in mending ties to their longtime partner in women’s and reproductive health:

“In recent weeks, the treasured relationship between the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and Planned Parenthood has been challenged, and we are now heartened that we can continue to work in partnership toward our shared commitment to breast health for the most underserved women. We are enormously grateful that the Komen Foundation has clarified its grantmaking criteria, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Komen partners, leaders and volunteers,” said the group’s leader, Cecile Richards.

The major victory for pro-choice activists comes after a whirlwind three days of accusations that Komen was placing politics ahead of women’s health, and based on the fact that the top two officials in Komen are longtime GOP supporters, one of whom stated her desire in a 2010 campaign to defund Planned Parenthood, it’s not surprising to see such a backlash.

It would appear this reversal is politically expedient for Komen, but they did do the right thing in the end, and that should count for something.

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JCPenney hires Ellen as Spokesperson, Ignores Bigots

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Ellen Degeneres and the LGBT Movement, in general, scored a huge victory, this week, when JCPenney, under the pressure of a national boycott lead by the hate group OneMillionMoms.com, refused to fire their new spokesperson.

This isn’t the first time Ellen Degeneres, the affable and fun-loving television personality and talk show host, has been in hot water because of her sexuality.

Back in 1997, both Ellen and her eponymous character on the television show “Ellen” came out and suffered a minor backlash. Some still speculate that ABC canceled “Ellen” because of the sexuality controversy rather than what the network pointed to as diminished ratings.

But Ellen reemerged in 2003 with the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which has done very well in the Nielsen ratings and won 25 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons, alone. It would seem the American public is more than ready to tune-in to a lesbian-hosted show, and you know why?

Because Ellen is the embodiment of the human being so many of us want to be. She’s funny, compassionate, charitable, and loves to dance. What’s not to like?

So, when OneMillionMoms.com released this statement, the backlash didn’t hit Ellen, it hit them:

“Funny that J.C. Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. The majority of J.C. Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.”

By the way, their website is atrocious. Yes, the content is bigoted and hateful, but I’m talking about the web design itself. It looks like a high school CSS project that really never got off the ground.

But anyway, JCPenney was not going to back down to a fringe group with a hateful message. In a statement to Yahoo! Shine, they said, “”JCPenney stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.”

So, that’s that. Justice wins out against the intolerant, and we again see just how much the Gay Rights Movement has helped integrate Mainstream America. And by the way, as a Christian, I think that’s just fabulous. Equality for all and nothing less.

Keep on dancing, Ellen! We love you!

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Why I Stand with Planned Parenthood

 

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On Tuesday, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, one of the most trusted and effective charitable organizations in the United States, abruptly announced it would no longer be awarding grants to Planned Parenthood, perhaps the most trusted charitable organization in women’s and reproductive health.

The backlash against Komen has been swift. Millions of pro-choice activists are calling the move an entirely political one, putting religious dogma ahead of women’s health.

And I believe they’re right. The head of Komen is Nancy Brinker, the former Ambassador to Hungary under President George W. Bush and an activist in her own right with strong ties to the GOP. The Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Karen Handel, is a former GOP gubernatorial candidate for Georgia and stated during her campaign that she doesn’t support Planned Parenthood and promised to eliminate funding for cancer examinations provided by Planned Parenthood.

This is, in short, a game of politics that is putting the lives of millions of impoverished women (and men, who also have been known to receive services from Planned Parenthood) at risk.

I’ve participated in two Susan G. Komen Races for the Cure, and I had a great time volunteering. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancerous death among women, comprising a whopping 22.9% of all cancer-related deaths.

So, it should follow that an organization that touts itself as the preeminent organization in the fight against breast cancer would wholly support, without reservation, partner organizations whose time and energy is invested in saving the lives of women with this terrible health condition.

And yet, Komen has made the decision to eliminate hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to an organization that saves lives.

Planned Parenthood, make no mistake about it, is a life-saving organization. Annually, it conducts more than a million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams, among many other health services.

The result? Hundreds of thousands of women have either a new lease on life when cancer is detected and swiftly eliminated or they, at least, have a head start in the fight.

Of the more than 11,000,000 medical procedures conducted by Planned Parenthood, do you know what percentage are linked to abortion?

3 percent. That’s it.

Komen is putting hundreds of thousands of lives at danger because an organization they’re funding provides safe and legal abortions for impoverished women.

Oh, the horror.

By the way, I count myself as pro-life, but that’s exactly why I stand with Planned Parenthood: Because their fight against disease and cancer has saved millions of lives over the past century at little or no cost to those who can’t afford treatment, elsewhere.

So, Komen, as much as I support the fight against breast cancer, I will not support an organization that puts politics ahead of women’s health.

Shame on you.

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BREAKING: Washington State passes Marriage Equality Bill!

On Wednesday night, the Washington State Senate took a historic step towards marriage equality by passing the same-sex marriage bill, 28 to 21.

The vote came after weeks of anticipation when Gov. Chris Gregoire voiced her support for marriage equality in the state after what she called the “end of a personal journey” for her on the issue.

With the Senate approving, the Washington State House will vote within the next week–where it’s certain to pass–and the bill proceed to Gov. Gregoire’s desk, where it’s certain to be signed.

And with that, Washington would become the seventh state or territory in the country to declare same-sex marriages legal.

This is a great day for not only Washington but our country, but I can’t help imagining what our children will think, decades from now, of the fact that we’ve had to work so hard to reach this point.

Next stop? Repeal DOMA, once and for all.

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Would Gingrich still consider Palin for VP?

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Last month, former Speaker Newt Gingrich told a town hall audience that he would consider Sarah Palin for his running mate or a “very important” cabinet position.

His exact words were as follows:

Caller: If you’re fortunate enough to be nominated, would you consider having Sarah Palin as your running mate?

Gingrich: She is certainly one of the people you would look at. I am a great admirer of hers, and she was a remarkable reform governor of  Alaska. So, she’s somebody that I think brings a great deal to the possibility of helping in government, and that would be one of the possibilities. There are also some very important Cabinet positions that she could fill very, very well. I can’t imagine anybody who would do a better job of driving us to an energy solution than Gov. Palin, for example. So, tell her she certainly would be on the list of one of the people we would consider.

Palin seems to have reciprocated warm feelings when she stated she would voted for Gingrich back in the South Carolina Primary, although she qualified this by using the rationale that a vote for the former Speaker was a vote for a good primary fight.

Of course, this was back when, a few weeks ago, Gingrich looked poised to take the GOP Nomination by storm before Mitt Romney outspent him heavily in the Florida Primary, winning, last night, by a wide margin.

And now it seems many eyes are on Palin. She’s one of the few moving parts that has the power to resurrect Mr. Gingrich’s campaign, but will she only do it in return for a guarantee to be on the ticket? It would be a remarkable achievement for anyone, but especially Mrs. Palin, whose approval rating among Democrats and Independents is below the temperature it takes water to freeze.

Fun Fact: No person has ever appeared on two consecutive tickets as VP under different presidential nominees. Joseph Lieberman came close in 2004 and 2008 when he was briefly considered by John Kerry and John McCain, respectively.

Could Sarah Palin be the first to pull it off?

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