“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
The United States is supposed to be the “land of the free,” yet that is in jeopardy as long as conservative politicians pander to right-wing extremism. They want to deny LGBTQ+ people our freedoms, whether it is making drag shows illegal if children are present, banning LGBTQ+ books in libraries to keep them away from kids, or making it illegal for teachers to discuss LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom. They know that the younger generations tend to be more socially liberal and more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community because they have seen us as “normal” people. We are the same as them, we just love or have an attraction to someone of the same sex, or we are at odds with our biological sex.
In John 8:32, Jesus says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” In that verse, Jesus is talking about being a follower of His, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) Jesus’s teachings were about love and acceptance. If the truth (reality) of the world is hidden, then we are prejudicing people against those who are different and hiding any differing point of view. It is by telling the truth and teaching children to be honest and loving that we can truly make the United States the “Land of the Free.”
The USA has never been a “land of the free.” It began as a country that allowed slavery, then when slavery was abolished, new forms of slavery were created: sharecropping and Jim Crow laws. LGBTQ+ individuals were always in bondage because they were prevented from living their truth openly and honestly for fear of imprisonment, being committed to a mental institution, or in some areas, death. We are still fighting for our freedom. Coretta Scott King said, “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.” If conservatives and hate groups get their way, not only will we lose the freedoms we have fought for, but eventually, they, too, will lose the freedoms they have become accustomed to. They just don’t see that yet.
I stayed up and watched the President Biden’s State of the Union address last night. As a general rule, I hate listening to politicians speak; however, I have always found Biden to be more pleasant to listen to than most. He has a few phrases that drive me a little crazy because he uses them too much and it makes him sound folksy, although that is also part of his appeal. He seems like a real person unlike a lot of politicians. I thought this was on of the most masterful SOTU addresses I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t the usual self-serving drivel. Instead, he baited the Republicans and did two things. First, he got them to look like absolute fools, even though McCarthy had warned them not to heckle Biden. They did anyway and for some of the stupidest reasons. Second, Biden laid a trap to get them to agree with some of his policies and and stand and applaud him. It was an interesting tactic, and Biden was so forceful at time. He wasn’t “angry racist white man” like Trump always came across looking like, but he came across as a genuine defender of the people and democracy. Trump always pandered only to his base and shipped them up into a frenzy like the fascist he is. Biden didn’t say everything just like all those in his party wanted. Instead, he spoke to the people, and I personally thought he did a great job.
The US Senate on Wednesday advanced legislation that would provide federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, endorsing the measure in a bipartisan vote that moves it closer to becoming law. The 62 to 37 vote for cloture on the bill was a crucial test of support for the Respect for Marriage Act. I know we sometimes hear about cloture, but we don’t always know exactly what that means. Cloture is a Senate procedure that limits further consideration of a pending proposal to thirty hours in order to end a filibuster. Therefore, once the thirty hours are over, the bill will go before the Senate for debate. At this point, there is no longer a need for 60 votes to pass the legislation.
The Respect for Marriage Act is expected to be put up for a final vote in the Senate tomorrow. Once that happens, it will go back to the House of Representatives for another vote. As long as the House does not change anything, the bill will go to President Biden for his signature. I honestly can’t imagine the House trying to change anything. If that were to occur, the bill would have to go to a Conference Committee to reconcile the differing language before being sent back to the House and Senate for another round of votes. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knows that she does not have time to waste with a Conference Committee. She knows that she has to put it before the House in the same form that it was passed in the Senate because Democrats will no longer have a majority on January 3.
In a speech on the Senate floor before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Today, the Senate is taking a truly bold step forward in the march toward greater justice, greater equality, by advancing the Respect for Marriage Act. It’s a simple, narrowly tailored but exceedingly important piece of legislation that will do so much good for so many Americans. It will make our country a better, fairer place to live.”
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican who was among the group of Senate negotiators, highlighted the broad public support for same-sex marriage and noted that for most Americans, marriage equality is a settled question. “We’ve shown here through this legislation that these rights can coexist, religious freedom on the one hand, LGBTQ on the other hand,” Portman said. “It is my hope that with the changes we’ve talked about today and we’ve all now agreed to, we can pass this legislation with the same kind of overwhelming bipartisan majority we saw in the Houses of Representatives and therefore settle this issue once and for all.”
The Respect for Marriage Act repeals the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act and safeguards same-sex and interracial marriage by requiring the recognition of valid marriages regardless of “sex, race, ethnicity or national origin.” The bill was introduced after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. There have been concerns from Democrats that a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas left decisions from the high court protecting the right to same-sex marriage under threat. The bill easily cleared the House in July with support from 47 Republicans. Though several GOP senators initially expressed support for the plan, Schumer agreed to postpone a vote on the legislation until after the midterm elections after some Republicans worried it would endanger religious freedom.
To assuage their concerns, the amendment ensures nonprofit religious organizations will not be required to provide services, facilities or goods for the celebration of a same-sex marriage, and protects religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It also makes clear the bill does not authorize the federal government to recognize polygamous marriage and safeguards any benefit or status — such as tax-exemptions, grants, contracts or educational funding — of an entity so long as it does not arise from a marriage.
The amendment “recognizes the importance of marriage, acknowledges that diverse beliefs and the people who hold them are due respect, and affirms that couples, including same-sex and interracial couples, deserve the dignity, stability and ongoing protection of marriage,” according to the bipartisan group.
With the amendment, the bill will have to be taken up by the House once again before going to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The White House urged passage of the measure.
“The right to marriage confers vital legal protections, dignity, and full participation in our society,” the White House budget office said in a statement of administration policy. “No person should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love, and every married couple in the United States deserves the security of knowing that their marriage will be defended and respected.”
Last Week after the election, Tucker Carlson of Faux News was spouting his usual drivel by claiming the “Democratic Party controlled media” cost Republicans the red wave they were sure was coming. My friend Susan sent me a post from Joe.My.God that had the quote by Carlson. She said, rather facetiously, she had “Not one freaking clue what information this jackass (Carlson) is trying to impart.” Here is what Carlson said, then I’ll translate.
“In some cases, candidate quality is not actually the most important thing. What is? Well, the mechanics of an election. They matter. In fact, they matter sometimes more than any individual running in the election.
“The way people vote makes a big difference to the outcome and so, by the way, does access to channels of communication. Why does that matter? Well, because you can say whatever you want, but if no one hears you, you’re not really speaking.
“And that’s the case for Republicans so often, as if Republicans can communicate their message unencumbered on a single cable television channel and a handful of relatively low-traffic websites. That’s it.
“The rest of the American media amounts to a gigantic filter designed to distort what Republicans are saying.
“It’s a campaign apparatus and only the Democrats have it. Now you can whine about that – ‘the media are liberal!’ – but it’s not about liberal or conservative.
“It’s about winning elections and Democrats can win because they have that. If Republicans want to win elections, too, they might spend some money to fix that, to achieve parity.”
Translation: “Republican candidates are stupid, ignorant fools who shouldn’t be elected, but we (Faux News) lie to you about them so you’ll vote for them anyway because more important than anything is that you vote Republican so we can make more money. Intelligent people actually watch real news channels that tell the truth, but we prefer stupid people who we can manipulate.”
She thanked me for the translation and said, “He just didn’t use the right words.” I responded, “He’s a Republican. If he used the right words some might notice that the man behind the curtain is a fraud.”
In yesterday’s post, I quoted Proverbs 1:7, which said, “But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Carlson and others at Faux News constantly prove my point about how true this really is. It’s a perfect description of the Republican Party and those who support it. If you look at the “Don’t Say Gay” bills, the banning of books in libraries, dictating to teachers what they can and cannot teach, etc., there is no question that they “despise wisdom and instruction.” Even God says they are “fools.” But as James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” All we have to do is be open to the truth. The Republican Party is no longer open to the truth. It has become a party of lies based on the myth of a stolen election (not to mention a Lost Cause).
Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels is often credited with a quote that seems to be the current strategy of the Republican Party when he said:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
It is an excellent definition of the “Big Lie;” however, there seems to be no evidence that it was used by Goebbels.
The World War II American intelligence agency, the OSS, described Hitler’s use of the big lie in his psychological profile:
“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”
If the Republican Party hasn’t already become a fascist political party, it is quickly becoming one under the leadership of TFG. The common themes among fascist movements include authoritarianism, nationalism (including racial nationalism), hierarchy and elitism, and militarism characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation and race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy.
The “red wave” was more “like a light pink puddle,” as one friend of mine put it. The Republicans may still take the House, but if they do, it will be a very slim majority, yet enough to be annoying in their quest for revenge. The Senate will remain in the hands of the Democrats with the possibility of gaining one seat. It just shows how important it is to go out and vote.
Yesterday was the Vermont primary. It was my first time voting in my new town. The funny thing is that I was confused when I changed my voter registration to my new address (the confusion happened with the power company too). You see, my apartment complex sits at the junction of three towns. My address is one town, because my mailbox is on that side of the line. My apartment, however, is in another town. So, when I registered to vote here, I thought I was signing up for the town that is my address, but it turns out that I had to register for the town where my apartment actually sits, even though my mailbox is only about ten or twenty yards away from my apartment. Vermont is a strange little place. Half the people in my apartment complex vote in one town, and the other half vote in the other town. None of the apartments are in the third town, you drive through it while driving down the driveway of my apartment complex. It’s quite confusing. The way I initially found out that my physical address and my mailing address are in separate towns was when I called the electric company to set up that account. My physical and mailing address are different for them too.
Anyway, this was actually a pretty exciting primary for Vermont. With Patrick Leary’s retirement, his Senate seat is open, so our Representative Peter Welch is running for that seat. As I am writing this, 27 percent of the vote is reporting and Welch is winning with 86 percent of the vote. The AP has already declared him the winner, and he will likely win the general election, as well. This is Vermont after all, the home of Bernie Sanders. In the Republican primary, the front runner had been Christina Nolan, who is a lesbian. However, the hate group National Organization for Marriage, better known as NOM, came out against her solely because she is a lesbian. Gerald Malloy, a West Point graduate and businessman who has only lived in Vermont for two years, seems to have gotten a boost because of NOM and is leading the race with 43 percent to Nolan’s 37.5 percent. The other candidate has just over 19 percent of the vote.
The more interesting race is to fill Peter Welch’s soon to be vacant seat. Honestly, the Republicans in that race don’t matter. It’s the Democratic primary that everyone is watching. Three candidates are vying for the nomination. Becca Balint is a long-time Vermont legislator who is currently president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate. She is a former social studies teacher and the first lesbian to lead the senate. Her main rival is the current Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray, whose only political experience is two years as lieutenant governor and working in the congressional offices of Welch and Leahy, who both endorsed her. Bernie endorsed Balint. The third candidate is Dr. Louis Meyers, whose main campaign issue is that Vermonters care about the issues not sending their first woman to Congress. It was not a winning strategy for Meyers, who at the time of writing this had 1.5 percent of the vote. The AP called the race for Balint, who with nearly 40 percent of the vote reporting had over 61 percent of the vote and over a thousand more votes than Gray.
There are also a number of other statewide races up for grabs. With Gray running for Congress, the lieutenant governor office is up for election. The two front runners there were David Zuckerman, the lieutenant governor before Gray who stepped down to run for governor and Kitty Toll who was endorsed by Howard Dean and has had the most television ads.. I personally don’t like Zuckerman, so I voted for Toll, but it appears that Zuckerman May win as he has 45 percent of the vote to Toll’s 38 percent with 43 percent reporting. The other recently vacant state offices were for attorney general and Secretary of State. Both candidates I voted for in these two races are trailing in the reported results.
I’m most happy about Balint’s win. The others were not very important for me. I think we need more good social studies teachers in Congress. The good ones who teach civics and government know what really goes on in politics. They also tend to know the history of the American political systems and the ups and downs of American History. We also need more LGBTQ politicians.
I try to write something every day. On Sundays, it’s my devotional. On Mondays, it’s whatever comes to mind, if anything. Tuesdays are almost always a poem that I want to share. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are again, whatever comes to mind, if anything. On Saturdays, I usually take a break from writing and post my “Moment of Zen,” which is occasionally accompanied by a short explanation, though most are self-explanatory. Each night, I post a Pic of the Day, which is always whatever picture strikes my fancy for that day. I have kept to this schedule for most of the twelve years I’ve posted to this blog. There are days, though, when I just don’t know what to write. Today is one of those days. It’s days like today that I just ramble about different stuff.
I’m just glad that the week is half over. It’s been a hot week, and that’s not likely to change. Vermont has been lucky so far this summer. Most of our days have been in the 60s or 70s F (or about 15-25 C). It’s been pleasant, but like what seems like the rest of the world, our temperature is up this week. We are expecting near 90 degree high temperatures for the five days. I’m ready for it to be back in the mid-70s.
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the ‘Respect for Marriage Act,’ a major step toward protecting the rights of married couples who could face future threats from discriminatory forces eager to overturn U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and interracial couples. Only 47 of the 211 Republican Representatives votes with the Democrats to pass the legislation. It now goes to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain, as it requires at least 10 Republican votes to defeat a filibuster. So far the same-sex marriage protections have only one GOP backer: Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. The puts GOP senators in a bind, caught between their minority culturally conservative base, which opposes same-sex marriage, and a large majority of the country that wants it to remain legal.
He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.
Religion fanaticism fueled by hatred and hatred fueled by ignorance is destroying the United States. Fascist politicians are using hatred, just as they did in the 1920s and 1930s to further their power-hungry ambitions. All across the world, there are politicians who are either fighting against democracy or strengthening their existing authoritarian rule. Conservatives, whether Republican, Fascist, Nazi, etc., have used religious fanaticism to take away the rights of people. Religion was used to justify slavery, subjugate women, kill or imprison LGBTQ+ individuals, and any number of horrible inhumane actions.
For those who claim they are Christian and vote and support hatred-fueled religious fanaticism, they do not follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught love, hope, charity, mercy, and acceptance. In John 4:3–39, Jesus was headed to Galilee from Judea. This was early in His ministry. He stopped to rest and refresh Himself at a well in Samaria during one of His journeys. A woman came to the well to draw water, and the Savior engaged her in conversation. She was astonished that He would speak with her, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” But He overlooked the traditions that devalued her in others’ eyes. He taught her about the living water of the gospel, and He testified to her, “I who speak to you am [the Messiah].”
Jesus did not teach hatred and discrimination like many modern Christians. Instead, he taught acceptance. There are two remarkable stories showing how Jesus cared for all types of people. The religious fanatics of his time called the Pharisees were offended because in their view God loved only the righteous who kept the law as they interpreted them. They, therefore, distanced themselves from so-called ‘unclean’ sinners in their delusions of self-righteousness. But Jesus was often eating and drinking with those the Pharisees deemed disreputable sinners. He met people where they were and healed them. He protected those who committed adultery and prostitutes. Jesus proclaimed that both law-keepers and law-breakers are sinners in need of forgiveness. In John 8:7, Jesus told the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman to death for committing adultery, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” In Matthew 7:1-3, Jesus warned, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?”
A day of reckoning will come for those who use the name of God to further their hatred and claim that they do so in Jesus’s name. We can start by going to the polls in November and voting out the hypocrites and modern-day Pharisees. We need to vote in such great numbers that we make the elections of 1932 a minor Democratic victory. For anyone who is not familiar with the 1932 elections, Democratic New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent president Herbert Hoover in a landslide, with Hoover winning only six Northeastern states. In addition to Hoover’s defeat, the Republicans also suffered crushing defeats in both congressional chambers: they lost 101 seats in the House of Representatives, with the Democrats expanding their House majority to a supermajority (a gain of 97 seats), and also lost twelve seats in the Senate, giving Democrats a total of 58 out of 96 seats in the Senate (Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states). The other Senator, Henrik Shipstead of Minnesota, was a member of the Farmer-Labor Party before switching back to being a Republican in 1940. (He’d been a Republican prior to 1923.) This landslide election was the last time that an incumbent president lost re-election and his party lost control of both chambers of Congress in a single term until 2020.
If we don’t keep a majority in the House and gain at least 2 seats in the Senate (to counteract Manchin and Sinema) and do away with the filibuster, hate has won. Furthermore, we must expand the Supreme Court and institute ethics reforms in the federal government including SCOTUS. If you live in a state with a Republican majority, work as hard as you can to change that. We have to have election reforms and protections. We need stronger and sensible gun laws. We need meaningful reforms to healthcare and student loans. Most importantly we must preserve equality in the United States. We can no longer allow religious fanatics to have sway in this country. Republicans have pushed for overturning Roe v. Wade, and now they’ve done it. This will only empower conservatives and religious fanatics to push forward with taking away marriage equality, access to birth control, the right to privacy, and due process. In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the justices “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell” — referring to three cases having to do with Americans’ fundamental privacy, due process, and equal protection rights. Anyone who did not see this coming with the overturning or Roe was incredibly naïve. I beg of you not only to vote but encourage all those who are sympathetic to equality to also vote. If someone needs a ride to the polls, give it to them. If someone is not registered to vote, get them registered.
I don’t think that the majority of people who claim to be Christian would follow Jesus if the Second Coming happened today. They set aside all of their values and beliefs to elect Donald Trump. They sold their souls to make sure that Roe was overturned. Now, we must come out fighting (peacefully, of course). Vote! Vote! Vote! Let’s take back our country and make it a country in which we can be proud to live.
Prayer for Pride 🙏🏻🏳️🌈
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore, do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”1
I love Pride because it shows the diversity of our communities. Different skin colors, different body types, different genders (and even more gender expressions!) From promiscuous to monogamous married couples, from kinky to vanilla, and everything in between. The LGBTQ+ community is varied and beautiful, and that’s what makes us such a fabulous community.
Recently, I received an email form Queer Theology which shared a wonderful prayer for Pride. I have adapted it a little to fit my situation better, and I encourage you to do the same. (My edits with notes are in parentheses.) So, I give you a Prayer for Pride:
There was a time when I prayed asking you to help me become straight. Thank you for ignoring that prayer. Or rather, for answering it differently than I expected:
“I will help you become more fully you.”
Thank you for the gift of queerness, for the liberation it has sparked in my own life (and in the lives of my family2).
Thank you for this body and for the courage to explore all the ways I can use it to make myself and others feel good, connected, healed, whole. (And let’s not forget sexy and desired.3)
Though my journey here has not been easy, I am grateful for it. Let the shame I felt with my body, with my desires, with my love, with myself, be a reminder to do everything I can to not contribute to another’s shame but to instead support them in their own self-love and self- determination.
I pray for those still living with shame, help them to shake it off; and embolden me to work to create a world which breeds pride, not shame.
I pray for those who, knowingly and unknowingly, fed my own shame. May they have everything they need in their lives and if they seek forgiveness, help them to know that they are forgiven.
And I pray for those in the in-between spaces–myself included, if I’m honest–give us strength to continue the journey, to lean into the tender places, to do the work, and to celebrate the victories.
Thank you for the victories. Though the Kingdom of Heaven is still not fully realized on earth, let us be glad in all the ways in which it is alive and present, here, and now.
In Christ’s name we pray,
1. One of my greatest pet peeves is when people make a huge deal about praying in public. My sister’s in-laws always insisted on holding hands and praying when at a restaurant. And often, when people pray in church, they drone on and on. A simple prayer is always best, and in my opinion, it is much better to pray alone and in private. Prayer should be between you and God. It need not be with anyone else.
2. I hope that it has made positive changes in your family. Mine is still a work in progress.
3. This one I leave up to you.
I had planned on only posting the “Prayer for Pride” but with the SCOTUS news on Friday, I wanted to say more.
I think President Biden said what all sane people are thinking. When is it going to end? When is enough, enough? In God’s name, when will Republicans wake up and realize that sensible gun laws are not going to take away their right to own a gun?
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in response to a question from NBC News, immediately dismissed the prospect of new efforts to pursue gun control measures. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime,” said Cruz, who instead said it would be better to go “after felons and fugitives and those with serious mental illness, arresting them, prosecuting them when they try to illegally buy firearms.” If sensible gun control measures don’t work, why is the United States the only country in the world to have so many mass shootings? The answer is simple. It’s because other countries have sensible gun laws. They have the same criminals and mentally ill, but most also have better prisons and healthcare.
Cruz’s remarks sparked a sharp rebuke from Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who was elected to the Senate just weeks before the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in his state. “Spare me the bullshit about mental illness. We don’t have any more mental illness than any other country in the world,” Murphy told reporters. He also urged Congress to act.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., also lashed out at Cruz. “F— you @tedcruz,” Gallego tweeted, “you care about a fetus but you will let our children get slaughtered. Just get your ass to Cancun. You are useless.” Gallego appeared to be referring to Cruz’s opposition to abortion rights and his trip to Mexico last year as Texas faced a crippling winter storm.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the shooting a cold-blooded massacre. “For too long, some in Congress have offered hollow words after these shootings while opposing all efforts to save lives,” she said in a statement. “It is time for all in Congress to heed the will of the American people and join in enacting the House-passed bipartisan, commonsense, life-saving legislation into law.”
A major news story broke Monday night. It is not something I would usually talk about on my blog, but the seriousness of the issue is frightening to me for many reasons. The online news media site, Politico, obtained what it calls a draft of a majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would strike down Roe v. Wade. For those of you who may not be in the United States or may not know what the 1973 Supreme Court case is about, Roe v. Wadewas a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. What Politico released is only a draft. The final opinion has not been released, and votes and language can change before opinions are formally released. The opinion in this case is not expected to be published until late June. However, Republicans have been pushing to pack the Court with conservative justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade for many years, and they finally succeeded under the twice-impeached, previous loser president.
Prior to the Senate confirmation of the very conservative and young Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts had served as a swing vote and attempted to balance the Court between liberal and conservative justices. If this draft is accurate, Roberts voted against overturning Roe v. Wade. Overturning it would be unprecedented (as far as I am aware) in that it would be the first Supreme Court case to overturn a major precedent that granted rights. Most, if not all, overturned decisions have been done so to correct cases where the Supreme Court took away rights, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Brownended racial segregation in schools and overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) in which the Court had ruled that racial segregation laws did not violate the U.S. Constitution if the facilities for each race were equal in quality, a doctrine that came to be known as “separate but equal.” Other examples exist, but this is by far the most famous. However, with some recent decisions by the Supreme Court, Brown v. Board of Education is slowly being chipped away. The same is happening regarding the constitutionality of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But I am going down a rabbit hole. The fact is, the Supreme Court for the past seven decades has expanded rights of individuals not taken them away. This is beginning to change under the new make-up of the Court. Overturning Roe v. Wade may be the most dramatic of what may become a series of setbacks for civil rights.
I am not going to debate the rights and wrongs of abortions, but I am going to give a little history lesson on abortions for those who think that abortions have always been illegal in America. (Here, I am speaking of the Americas, including colonial times, not just the United States.) In colonial America, abortion was dealt with in a manner according to English common law. Abortion was typically only frowned upon if anyone even thought of it at all. If abortion was penalized, it occurred after “quickening,”—when a woman felt fetal movement—because it suggested that the fetus had manifested into its separate being. Quickening could vary from woman to woman, and sometimes went as late as four months. And, it was only penalized when it was typically seen as a cover-up for improper sexual relations. Also, abortions were much more common than believed and usually performed by midwives, not doctors. (Midwives were always much safer than doctors for pregnant women.)
States did not begin to draft abortion legislation until the first half of the 19th century; by 1880, every state had an abortion statute. These abortion statutes were not passed because of a belief that the fetus was a living being. Children were not seen as fully humans until they reached adulthood. Most of these early abortion statutes were designed to protect women from medical quacks far from the established centers of American medicine—Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, for example. These early statutes (for the most part) punished only the provider of the abortion, not the woman, and either did not apply to physicians or did not apply if the abortion was necessary to preserve the life of the woman.
Not until late 19th century did Americans—writers, journalists, preachers, and physicians—began to describe abortion with moral absolutism that had never existed before. In the late 19th century, targeting abortions and abortion providers—like midwives and “irregulars”—occurred within the context of the professionalization of the medical field. Doctors attempted to legitimize themselves as professional medical men, and they did so at others’ expense largely because women knew having your baby delivered by a midwife was much safer. (Midwives sterilized their hands and equipment, whereas male doctors, and nearly all doctors were male, did not believe in sterilization and did not understand germ theory.) In claiming that pregnancy and childbirth were not natural events, where women and midwives could maintain authority, they argued that pregnancy and childbirth were medical conditions requiring physician intervention.
Abortions were dangerous in the early 20th century, but by the 1920s and 1930s, sterilization of equipment, specialization, and, later, antibiotics, all worked together to decrease mortality. But the laws and the changed view of the morality of abortions had made getting an abortion from anyone, even doctors, illegal. By the 1970s, illegal back-alley abortions were again very dangerous affairs, so when the case of Roe v. Wade came before the courts in 1973, some states were already moving toward allowing abortions so they could be legally and safely obtained.
That was a lot to read, and I hope you are still with me. I mention all this because of a flaw in Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The conservative justice attached to his draft a 31-page appendix listing laws passed to criminalize abortion during that period. Alito claims “an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment…from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.” This is just not true. It is not until the 19th century, 300 years after the first English settlement establishing common law in the Americas, that abortions started to become illegal, and only then to protect a women’s health. Abortions are much safer now, which makes citing those laws illegitimate.
What worries me is if the Supreme Court begins overturning precedents that established rights for certain groups of people, especially those despised by Republicans, what is going to be next? Alito’s draft misleadingly argues that rights protected by the Constitution but not explicitly mentioned in it—so-called unenumerated rights—must be strongly rooted in U.S. history and tradition. That form of analysis seems at odds with several of the Court’s recent decisions, including many of its rulings backing gay rights. Liberal justices seem likely to take issue with Alito’s assertion in the draft opinion that overturning Roe would not jeopardize other rights the courts have grounded in privacy such as the right to contraception, to engage in private consensual sexual activity, and to marry someone of the same sex.
Alito explicitly denies that the Court will overturn any other precedents when he says in the opinion, “We emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” However, how can we believe him? Conservatives in the United States have increasingly made lying a part of their everyday life. Just look at the claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election. The only voter fraud that has been found was committed by Republicans and did not change the outcome of the election to re-elect their twice-impeached loser candidate. They also have consistently denied there was an insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, aimed at stopping the certification of Joe Biden’s presidency. Therefore, I cannot feel safe that Obergefell v. Hodges which granted the right for same-sex couples to marry or Lawrence v. Texas which struck down sodomy laws in the U.S. are not next on the Supreme Court’s chopping block.
I fear with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the fascist leanings of the current Republican Party which remains loyal to a lying, idiotic, twice-impeached, orange menace, we are looking at even darker days in the future of the United States and the world. Conservative backlash is not limited to the United States. Authoritarianism is on the rise, and it is not being kept in check by democratic institutions. I encourage all Americans, and people who read this blog in other parts of the world, to back liberal candidates who believe in fundamental human rights and decency. If the Democratic majority in Congress is lost, we are looking at a minimum of two years of intense gridlock; if Republicans win in 2024, we are looking at a wholesale rollback on human rights. Democrats not only need to retain a majority in Congress, but need to gain a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. We must fight, and we must vote for candidates who will protect our rights. If we don’t, we are surely doomed to lose many of our civil rights as U.S. citizens. Backlash against LGBTQ+ rights are already infiltrating even liberal and LGBTQ+-friendly states like Vermont. In the last few weeks, a trans woman was murdered in a hate crime in Vermont, someone vandalized the offices of the Pride Center of Vermont, and a pride flag was stolen from a flagpole at Northern Vermont University in Lyndon, Vermont. Since I moved to Vermont, I have rarely faced any type of hate or discrimination, but hate is on the rise everywhere.
With all of this said, I must admit, I also find it disturbing that this draft opinion was leaked to the press. I’m glad it was, but I still find it disturbing. The Supreme Court remains one of Washington’s most secretive institutions, priding itself on protecting the confidentiality of its internal deliberations. It is one of the hallmarks of the Supreme Court which allows for deliberation of cases before the Court to happen without intense media scrutiny. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was fond of saying, “At the Supreme Court, those who know don’t talk, and those who talk don’t know.”
And a final word that I couldn’t have said better myself to anyone who wants to make one of the stupid, hateful, and misleading arguments made by Republicans:
For generations, millions of Americans have answered the call to serve — taking the sacred oath to defend and preserve our Nation’s ideals of liberty and democracy. These patriots represent the best of us. On Veterans Day, we honor their service, dedication, and valor and are forever grateful for their sacrifice.
Our Nation has only one truly sacred obligation: to properly prepare and equip our service members when we send them into harm’s way and to care for them and their families when they return home. For our 19 million veterans, that means ensuring that they have access to the support and resources for a future of security, opportunity, and dignity. This is even more important as we continue to recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Our obligation to support our Nation’s veterans and their families is personal for me and the entire Biden family, and I remain committed to ensuring that every veteran receives the care and support they have earned. The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will create millions of good jobs for veterans and grow opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. My Build Back Better framework also prioritizes improvements to VA health care, ensuring that every veteran — including our often-underserved female and LGBTQ+ veterans — receives competent, world-class health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last month, the White House Gender Policy Council released the first-ever United States Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality, which included the unique needs and contributions of women service members and veterans. And the Department of Veterans Affairs is also working to get every eligible veteran the information and opportunity they need to register and vote, protecting their voice in the democracy they fought to preserve.
Ensuring veterans have timely access to services and benefits is at the center of my Administration’s commitment to fulfilling our sacred obligation. This includes addressing the adverse health effects of service-related exposures. In August, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it will begin processing disability claims for respiratory conditions connected to exposure during military service in Southwest Asia and other areas. My Administration also added three conditions to the list of those presumptively associated with exposure to Agent Orange, ending the long wait for disability benefits for many Vietnam era veterans. In the coming months, we are committed to taking additional action to address potential adverse health effects associated with military environmental exposures.
So many of our veterans carry the scars from their service — both visible and invisible — and it is our Nation’s responsibility to help them heal. Too many veterans and service members have considered suicide or taken their own lives, and addressing this tragedy is a national responsibility. That is why I have made military and veteran suicide prevention a top priority, and earlier this month, I released a new comprehensive, cross-sector public health strategy to reduce military and veteran suicide. Implementing this approach will unite us around a common mission and accelerate meaningful improvements in suicide prevention programs, helping us live up to our sacred obligation to those who have served in our Nation’s Armed Forces.
Fulfilling our Nation’s promise to our veterans and military families, caregivers, and survivors is not only a moral imperative — it is crucial to our national security and to maintaining the finest military the world has ever known. We are a Nation that keeps our promises. That is why my Administration is dedicated to a whole-of-government approach in responding to the needs of our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors.
Through the First Lady’s work with Joining Forces — the White House initiative to support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors — my Administration is addressing employment and entrepreneurship, military and veteran child education, and health and well-being for veteran families. Earlier this year, the First Lady met with military and veteran families to learn how we can better support and prioritize their needs, and in September, Joining Forces and the National Security Council released a report outlining the first round of Administration-wide commitments and proposals that support veteran and military families, caregivers, and survivors. These efforts will honor our sacred obligation to support our veteran families and ensure they receive the resources they need to thrive.
On Veterans Day, we honor our Nation’s veterans, who have given so much to protect our freedoms and the freedom of others around the globe. They represent the highest ideals of our country. While we can never fully repay the debt we owe these heroes, we will honor their service and provide them the care and support they deserve. We also salute and show gratitude for all who ensure our Armed Forces remain strong, united, and unmatched.
In respect and recognition of the contributions our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors have made to the cause of peace and freedom around the world, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor our Nation’s veterans.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 11, 2021, as Veterans Day. I encourage all Americans to recognize the valor, courage, and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States of America and to participate in patriotic activities in their communities. And I call on all Americans, including civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, and communities, to support this day with commemorative expressions and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this ninth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.