When I started editing TheGloss, I really wanted to keep it as apolitical as possible. However, I think recently we’ve taken a more liberal turn, and it leads to discussions like this:
I want to make it absolutely clear that I identify as a conservative. In the past week I said, very sincerely, “I believe in the unbridled promise of capitalism.” I do. I also believe in our troops, I believe in free enterprise and – fine, I’ll just say it – I believe the United States is the best nation in the world. Apparently I believe that with my heart, not my head, because we’re behind in many areas. The fact that America may not the best country in the world was covered in the first episode of The Newsroom, when Jeff Daniels explained as much to a dumb college student; although Jeff Daniels ultimately decided the United States was the best country in the world because . . . dumb college students ask bad questions? That always seemed flimsy. No matter. Still believe in my nation.
I love this country. I love our optimism, and the vastness that enables us to, as Whitman said, “contain multitudes.” I love our, perhaps childish, obsession with people behaving decently. I love, above all, the fact that we are a group of people who seem to be trying so hard to be good. I love the way Americans seem to lapse into unexpected earnestness.
These are all statements that make me very popular at conservative gatherings. I am eagerly anticipating next week, when the election is over, and I can do a nice Shelved Doll on one of my personal heroes, Margaret Thatcher. Sometimes I tell people that I’d campaign for Alex P. Keaton. Because of this:
And, on a personal level, I like Mitt Romney. I don’t think that he is the constant bullshitter Obama describes. I think he’s an intelligent, successful man. I think he probably does have a very good plan for job creation. He seems like a wonderful husband and father. And, I imagine, in private life, he is probably very nice, although he sometimes says some very silly things in public life. I can see him as one of my Dad’s golf buddies who would be really pleasant to talk to after a round. I am sure he is wildly beloved by his friends and family.
So, I like the ideas behind the Republican party. And I like Mitt Romney just fine.
I just like my gay and female friends more.
And they are the ones who will get hurt if Mitt Romney is elected.
Let’s talk about that.
Certainly, I’m not the only one with gay friends. Young people tend to support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in overwhelming numbers. The Republican party seems to be aware of that – VP nominee Paul Ryan even took time to meet with Jimmy LaSalvia, the director of GOProud, a group representing gay conservatives and their allies.
Jimmy said, “I have sat in Paul Ryan’s congressional office and talked to him about the special challenges that face gay people and gay couples in this country and how his plans to reform Social Security, Medicare, health care, and our tax code would actually help gay Americans. I can tell you firsthand that Paul Ryan gets it when it comes to dealing with the challenges that face the gay community.”
No, Jimmy. No. In this, they are lying to you. Mitt Romney wants to ban gay marriage in the constitution.
Mitt Romney does tend to skim over the fact the he pledged to sign a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. However, it’s still a thing that happened, in spite of being skimmed over.
Now. Why do gay people need to marry?
This is something Obama also questioned, saying that “I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
Today, Obama claims he “evolved” on the issue, and, well –
He was certainly correct though – marriage is a institution imbued with many traditions. However, those traditions change with the times. Just as Obama evolved on the issue, so the rest of us need to evolve, because, well, we want life to get better.
Not in that cliche sense. I always thought that the notion of the “it gets better” campaign, which seemed to promise gay bullied kids that they’d all become internationally recognized fashion designers the minute they graduated from high school, was a bit idealistic. However, I do believe that, over centuries, the human race improves.
We get better. We do. We become kinder. We become more tolerant. We come to recognize that, while people may be different from us, they still have souls (or whatever you want to call a soul – you can say “Darwinian brain sparkle” if you like) and should be treated accordingly. That is how we as people have always evolved, one minority group at a time.
Today, evolving means not denying consenting couples who have found something as elusive as love the right to celebrate that love. This is a good thing. More than that, this is the decent thing. It’s perhaps a bit bombastic to say that this is one of the most important social issues of our time, but – oh. Wait. It is.
For the Romney candidates who keep claiming that Romney is a “defender of marriage” – what precisely is he defending by trying to ban gay marriage in the constitution?Ann Romney has claimed that she and Mitt have a “real marriage” – would it crumble if gays were allowed the same rights? That seems like a rather flimsy marriage if it would. Marriage isn’t a country club that people need to be kept out of because there are only so many martini glasses and tee-times to go around.
However, perhaps more relevant than the fact that gay marriage is a sign that people are getting better, there are benefits available to married people that simply aren’t available to committed couples who aren’t married. I know that seems a bit theoretical, so consider these two stories from The American Military Partner Association:
Meredith and her partner of over six years (a soldier who has been through three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan) live near Kansas City and are a committed family with two children. While Meredith stays home to raise their children, she is denied recognition as a family member and therefore denied health care through the military.
Meredith said, “I can’t tell you how many times I have to ‘tough it out’ with no medical care, nor how much I overpay for the exact same procedure because I am uninsured…or how degrading it feels to know that my wife breaks her back at work and I have to stand in line at a free health clinic when my wisdom tooth is broken, nerve exposed and infected as a result.”
Sarah has been the committed partner of her Navy sailor for their entire 15 years of service, including two deployments. Sarah has multiple sclerosis and has been struggling to deal with it for many years. Despite the fact she is clearly a family member of a U.S. service member, she is denied the same health care coverage that her heterosexual counterparts receive.
With such a condition, because health insurance is simply unaffordable to pay for out of pocket, they have to pay for any medical care they can manage to afford on their own. Sarah’s partner has been a health care provider for the Navy for 15 years and has provided health care to service members and their families while her own partner has had to do without needed care and medication many times.
This is how we are treating service members who is willing to die for our country. This is absurd.
So who is Romney defending? Well, not the troops.
So, then, let’s talk about abortion.
You may not be able to have one if Romney becomes President. (Especially if you’re one of our male readers. Ha! Ha! But also, weeping). No. I mean, you probably are – for some time – if you choose. Roe v. Wade is not going to be overturned. But Romney is not going to like it.
In 2007, during a Republican primary debate, Romney said that he would be “delighted” to sign a bill banning all abortions. Basically, as the Washington Post reports, this happened:
During one 2007 debate, an audience member submitted a question asking the former governor: “If hypothetically Roe v. Wade was overturned, and the Congress passed a federal ban on all abortions, and it came to your desk, would you sign it? Yes or no?”
Note that this hypothetical scenario involves an unlikely set of circumstances: Either the U.S. Supreme Court has to overturn its previous decision in Roe v. Wade or a majority of the House and Senate would need to reach an agreement on amending the Constitution, followed by both chambers of Congress approving a law to ban all abortions.
Romney sidestepped the “yes or no” part of the debate question by saying, “We should overturn Roe v. Wade and return these issues to the states.” But debate moderator Anderson Cooper pressed the GOP candidate to answer more directly, asking: “Would you sign the bill?”
Here’s Romney’s full response:
“I’d be delighted to sign that bill. But that’s not where we are. That’s not where America is today — where America is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade and return to the states that authority. But if the Congress got there, we had that kind of consensus in that country — terrific.”
No. No, not terrific, really.
Look, I like to think I will be so careful that I will never need to consider having an abortion. I think, at this moment in my life, it would be very hard for me to have one. However, I also recognize that 1) protection can fail and I have been very lucky never to have been faced with the decision, and 2) some of my friends have had them, most feel they made the right choice, and some regard them as one of the best decisions of their lives.
I remember once, when I was in high school, one of my English teachers mentioned that when she was a teenager one of her classmates got pregnant and had to fly to Japan for an abortion. This seemed insane to me at the time. It seems even more insane to me now. It seemed inconceivable that in this, the best country I know, I wouldn’t have access to a clean, safely performed medical procedure that I felt (likely after much soul-searching) was necessary.
I don’t care how great Mitt Romney is at creating new jobs and improving the economy if we regress in that regard. Or rather, I do. Because I’m going to need to have a lot of spare change lying around if I have to leave the country to get an abortion.
Romney has admittedly evolved on the issue and can support abortion in cases of rape and incest. That’s good because while having to carry an unwanted child to term seems horrendous in any event, being pregnant as the result of a rape seems like a violation of your body on a daily basis. Having undergone that degradation, being denied an abortion seems horrifying in a way I can scarcely imagine.
Nice that Romney has kind of picked up on that.
Outlawing most abortions makes the giant assumption that pregnant women who did not want the children would, if lacking access to safe, hygenic abortions, happily give birth. I think Romney imagines, when he says that he’d like to outlaw abortions, that this position would result in a world filled with curly haired, cherubic, much beloved children frolicking through meadows. We all love the idea of that world. We like to think that we’re helping children. That is not the world we live in. In reality, the people who would be helped most by outlawing abortions are coat hanger manufacturers.
Well, corporations are people, too.
I’ve grown up pretty secure in the knowledge that women do have a right to choose, and that if I were ever in the terrible position where I needed an abortion I could obtain one safely and promptly. The idea that someone would want to take away that right is very frightening to me. Really, really frighting.
And I believe that Barack Obama understands that when he says, regarding Republic Representative Akin’s foolish comment that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy,
“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, the majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women. Although these particular comments have led Governor Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape, I think those are broader issues and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the other party.”
As a woman who would like to have control over my body, I’m inclined to side with Obama.
When the Republicans come around on these issues, I can vote for them. I hope that day will happen in my lifetime, because, hell, I love Alex P. Keaton. I love the base that I think the Republican party stands for. But I cannot vote for them before the party’s attitude on those two subjects changes. And, if you are a woman, and you have either female or gay friends – that is to say that, if you are a woman who does not dwell in the darkness of a binder – these are issues you should consider very seriously tomorrow.