Pennsylvania House of Representatives Declares "Year of the Bible"

In a frighteningly theocratic gesture, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives just passed a resolution last week declaring 2012 the "Year of the Bible", with a list of "WHEREAS"-es that repeatedly refer to the Bible as "The word of God", and which explicitly states that studying the Bible makes you a better person.

They actually did this.

For bonus fuckery points, it was quietly introduced and quickly passed under a procedural rule that designates a resolution "non-controversial" in order to expedite passage.  For extra-super-bonus fuckery points, it passed unanimously!

Yeah.  Declaring the holy book of one religion to be the singular Word of God, and saying that "Renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people" is totally non-controversial.  It's not like there are any non-Christians in the state, right - like maybe a Jewish population that's fourth largest in the country?  And Pennsylvania's own Constitution totally doesn't say that "no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship." I mean, even if it does say that, passing a resolution endorsing a "...national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures" doesn't really count as a legal preference for Bible study as a mode of worship, right?

I just don't even know what else to say.  Other than to point out how well this would have gone over if it had been a resolution declaring a "Year of the Qur'an" or "Year of the Tanakh" or "Year of the Eddas" or "Year of the Vedas" or any of the other literally hundreds of holy texts for various religions around the world, and the clear double-standard that makes a resolution declaring one particular holy book the Bestest One Ever acceptable for unanimous - unanimous! - passage, which then gets so little media coverage you wouldn't even know it had happened unless you subscribe to certain religious-issues blogs, versus the media shitstorm and cries of "creeping Sharia law!" that would have ensued if they'd declared a Year of the Qur'an.  

Oh, and by the way - if this doesn't prove that Christians are not fucking oppressed in this country and there is no goddamn "war on religion", no matter how badly their persecution complex wants to invent one to cry about, I don't know what will.  

For any readers in Pennsylvania who would like to contact their Representative to ask them to please stop dabbling in theocracy and actually, y'know, fucking govern their state, the "find my Representative" tool may be found here, and here is a list of email/contact pages for all Reps.


Speaking of Lilly Ledbetter...

On Friday, I wrote about how I'm kind of tired of having the Obama administration/campaign constantly shoving the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in my face as the singular demonstration of their Super Awesome Totally Not Just Pandering Commitment To Teh Wimmenz, and how it is increasingly clear that it's really the only token women-centric thing they can (or for whatever reason, choose to) point to having done in the past few years.

Yesterday morning, I received a campaign email from Women for Obama, featuring Lilly herself retelling her story as a "call to action".


To be clear, I have nothing against Ms. Ledbetter using her story and her voice to support whomever she chooses.  If she truly believes in the Obama campaign and wants to lend her name and story in support, that's her choice and I have no issue with it.  This is not about her, nor is it about her choice to support Obama in this matter.

I just find it lolsobtastic that, not even 48 hours after observing the Obama administration's over-reliance on her story, I had it shoved at me yet again, as if this time it might finally convince me that the Obama administration really has my womanly interests at heart.

Mr. President, I hate to say this, but...it's not like your administration's support of the LLFPA is really a secret at this point.  I have no idea how any woman who's ever had even the barest contact with your campaign might have avoided hearing about it at least two or three times as The Reason To Support You.  Why in the name of all that is holy is it really necessary to put the same story out there AGAIN?!

Please.  I'm begging you.  Find a new goddamn angle already.


Dear President Obama: You can only trot out the same show pony so many times before we start to wonder if you have ANYTHING else in your stable.

Look, I get that women in this country - at least, ones who like their rights - are pretty much up shit creek when it comes to voting options in major elections.  We either vote for the party that actively hates us, or the one that treats us like a reliable but disposable guaranteed vote, patronized in election years and used as a bargaining chip in between times.  So I understand that you're not going to try very hard to make us feel super welcome, because you just don't have to, and I'm sure you're right when you say it's much more important to focus on the coveted "independent" vote.  (Lol, no, I'm not.)

But if you're going to keep tossing out crumbs from time to time to make it look like you're paying attention, could please at least change out the bread in the crumbs bag every now and again?

Because yes, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was good and important and all that (although I've heard it was already basically in the bag before you took office, for all that you are perpetually taking credit for it).  But for fuck's sake, you have made it the centerpiece of EVERY. SINGLE. "WOMEN-FOCUSED". CAMPAIGN EFFORT. FOR. THE. PAST. THREE. YEARS.

And here it is again:
A screencap of President Obama's Facebook page, showing a status update that links to a video titled "President Obama on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act"; text accompanying it reads ""Policies that help women are policies that help our families - and our economy - grow stronger." President Obama reiterates a message from his State of the Union address: Equal work deserves equal pay."
When you push the same stale "victory" at us over and over again for three years, it sort of lends itself to the impression that you really don't have anything else to offer.  (As indeed you don't.)  You could have mentioned this past year's War on Women and how shameful the unrelenting onslaught of attacks on a Constitutionally-protected right are.  You could have talked about how your administration has been aggressively using the FACE Act to prosecute anti-abortion protesters who interfere in people's access to clinics.  You could have commented on your administration standing firm on the requirement that employers who provide health insurance include contraceptive coverage, even in the face of pressure from religious figures like the USCCB.  And yet you chose, yet a-fucking-gain, to parade the LLFPA as your token commitment to women.


It's not just that I'm sick of hearing about it, although I am.  I am genuinely wondering why you seem to think that fair pay is the ONLY women's issue worth mentioning, ever?

I am also more than a little annoyed at the defensive framing of the commentary on it - the emphasis on "it helps our families and especially the economy!" - as if simply doing the right thing to treat women fairly under the law isn't its own justification, isn't enough, but must be For The Families and For The Economy.  I also take issue with referring to it as "helping".  "Helping" implies optional, implies choosing to be nice to someone out of the goodness of your heart.  Fair pay laws are not "help", they're fucking justice.  They are an attempt to enforce a minimum standard of fairness and basic equality.  I realize that doesn't make as good a sound bite, but the paternalistic attitude of "We're helping women, because it helps their families, and because The Economy" is really starting to grate on my nerves.

I talked, not too long ago, about how token crumbs actually work to highlight the inadequacy of said crumbs, rather than being a true motivator of loyalty and positive regard.  At this point, trotting out the LLFPA show pony functions the same way.  It simply shows how little you are interested in either taking strong action to support this constituency, or even pointing out the other small ways in which you have actually done so, and by doing so, demonstrates just how little regard your administration/the Democratic establishment has for women.

We may have nowhere else to go, practically speaking.  But the more you distance yourselves from us on the assumption that having nowhere else to go means we'll stay with you, the more you risk losing us anyway.  We may not vote for your opponents - but many of us won't be particularly motivated to get off our collective ass and vote for you, either.

Patronize us at your own risk, Obama Administration.  You may find one of your most stalwart beams crumbling under you just when you need it most, if you keep this up.


CPCs Acknowledge Their General Uselessness in South Dakota Lawsuit

Well, okay, not in so many words, although that would be pretty funny if they did.  No, I'm talking about the South Dakota law that passed a few months ago mandating that all people seeking abortion care must visit a CPC first (because it's not enough to require doctors to read from a prepared anti-abortion script to every patient, no - it has to involve a forced visit to a whole "business" dedicated to lies, guilt, manipulation, shaming, and harassment!  That's totally the definition of "informed consent").  Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit against the law, of course, arguing that it's an unconstitutional violation of the patient's right to privacy and that it constitutes "compelled speech", infringing against the First Amendment rights of doctors and patients.

Two CPCs in South Dakota have just been given the okay by a federal judge to join in the lawsuit, by arguing that "Because there are about 700 abortions performed in South Dakota annually, ... they could be denied access to that many clients by Planned Parenthood's lawsuit."  

Wait, so...they are saying that, without a law forcing people to patronize their establishment, they will lose access to all of those seven hundred potential clients?

I guess this means they know perfectly well that nobody chooses of their own free will to go to a CPC - they have to be misdirected, waylaid, lied to, or, if all else fails, legally coerced.  Whether they want to admit it or not, their argument shows that they know it.

(That must be a pretty sweet business model to have, though.  None of that faffing about with "provide a service people want/need for a price they can afford and are willing to pay", just "convince lawmakers to write a law forcing people to patronize your establishment," and bam!  Instant clientele!)


Tell Gov. Brown: No Repeal of Hayden Law!

Over the past few years, austerity measures have been the go-to "fix" (I put that in scare quotes because austerity fixes fucking nothing and we all know it) for budget deficit crises at all levels of government in this country.  Services for vulnerable populations have been slashed left, right, and center.  Disability services.  Subsidized health insurance services.  Reproductive health care services.  Food banks.  When the going gets tough, fuck over the poor and those in need, seems to be the theory.

This week, I heard about another cut about to go into place here in California, that would harm a population that hadn't occurred to me to worry about yet.

Shelter animals.

Governor Brown has said he wants to repeal a 1998 shelter-reform law, called the Hayden Law, that among other things mandated that county-run shelters hold onto animals for six days after being brought in before they could be euthanized, instead of the previous 72 hours.  The reform also required that shelters structure their open hours to include after-work and weekend times - or, if they were a small staff, make "by appointment" times available outside of normal work hours - so that (when combined with the six day minimum holding time) people who had lost a pet but who also worked a day job would actually be able to come and claim their animals before they were put to sleep.  To quote from the Facebook page of Sutter's Friends, a group dedicated to stopping the repeal:
What is at risk in the proposed repeal? Permanent loss of the requirement to provide prompt and necessary veterinary care. Permanent loss of the requirement to hold animals for an extended period to increase opportunites for redemption and adoption. Permanent loss of the requirement to post lost and found lists. And, among other things, permanent loss of the requirement to provide care for animals other than cats and dogs, such as rabbits, hamsters, and other animals commonly kept as pets.
This is a topic near and dear to me.  Every animal but one that I've bonded to - either belonging to me, my family, or close friends - has been a shelter animal.  Ozz and I just adopted our first in December, and we specifically chose to look for our new family member at the county shelter instead of the no-kill alternatives so that we could help in some small way to increase the survival rate there.  Kalika, our family's first dog, a golden retriever from the county shelter.  Kelly Anne, another golden, from a private rescue organization.  Diablo and Cielle, my mom's two cats, from a different private rescue org.  Amee, my ex's Siamese cat, from the county shelter.  Isis, my ex's and his brother's cat (and sort of mine, too, for awhile), from a shelter in Tennessee.  And now, Mara, Ozz's and my cat, from the county shelter.  And we plan to continue adopting from the shelter when we're ready to expand our family.

Local animal shelters can be an invaluable resource for saving animals' lives, from strays to runaway or lost pets - but they are all too often where animals' lives end, too.  The Hayden Law helped tilt that balance a bit more toward saving.  Jerry Brown's repeal would tilt it back toward death, and while I realize CA's budget situation is fairly desperate, I somehow don't get the feeling that euthanizing more shelter animals is going to be the linchpin on which a balanced budget would turn.

So I'm asking my readers to lift a small teaspoon in support of the Hayden Law.  Petitions against Gov. Brown's proposed repeal may be found and signed here and here; if you're on Facebook, "like" Sutter's Friends to stay on top of updates.

It's the humans' fault that there are so many homeless domestic-breed animals in the world to begin with; the least we can do is try to kill as few of them for the sake of our irresponsibility as possible.


No, he did not "ask for an open relationship"

It seems we have yet another Republican Sexual Hypocrite in Newt Gingrich.  The interview with his ex-wife (video autoplays at link) has been all over the place, and while I am all for calling out RSHs on their hypocrisy, loudly and repeatedly (look, if you're going to run on a platform of "family values", you should probably have some yourself, y'know?), I am really not okay with the way it's being reported by most news outlets.

Newt Gingrich did not "ask for an open relationship."  He had an affair - he cheated on his wife, who had thought they were having a monogamous relationship - and then asked his wife to immediately get over it and accept that he was going to continue having said affair while remaining married to her.  That is not the same thing.  Not even a little bit.

See, I have had a partner ask me for an open relationship before.  The difference between a partner asking for an open relationship, and what Newt did, is that when my then-boyfriend approached me to talk about an open relationship, he did it BEFORE HE SLEPT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  He came to me and said he had an interest in trying non-monogamy in a relationship (which we'd talked about a little bit before, so it came as no huge surprise) and he had met someone he was interested in pursuing this with, and he wanted to know how I would feel about that.  We talked, I agreed to give it a try, and when after a couple weeks I realize I just couldn't handle it with where we were at in our relationship, I told him, and he broke things off with her.  (We later gave it another shot, and the three of us ended up in a triad relationship, anyway.  All's well that ends well, I guess?)

That is how you do an open relationship.  Not "cheat for years, then admit to it and be like "but I don't want to have to choose between you so I'm just gonna keep fucking you both.  That's cool, right?""

I'm just sick of seeing headlines, articles, and comments, all moralizing and disapproving about Newt's "request for an open relationship" as if that's what's wrong with this situation.  Because it isn't.  Open relationships can be done ethically and with full knowing consent of all involved parties (although admittedly, if your relationship is non-normative in structure, you should probably not be spending a great deal of time and energy judging, condemning, and trying to make discrimination against those of different non-normative relationships even more prevalent and enforced in law), and in an ideal world, having requested an open relationship in a prior situation wouldn't be some sordid mark against you in the public eye.  But the media is presenting this in a way that conflates open relationships with cheating, which is disingenuous and flat-out incorrect.

Newt Gingrich cheated, then tried to weasel out of it.  He did not ask for an open relationship, in any meaningful sense of the phrase.  Period.


This Is A Real Question That Has Really Been Asked, For Realsies

For the "I could not make this shit up even if I tried" files, a judge in Delaware has asked:

"Is the Lord's Prayer Christian?"

Just...go ahead and let that sink in for a minute.  Read the question again if you need to.  I'll wait.

We are talking here about the Lord's Prayer, one of the most recognizable of the standard-issue Christian prayers, shared in some form or other across nearly all denominations, one of the first prayers Christian children learn - both Ozz, raised Catholic, and I, raised Methodist, can rattle it off without thinking, even now, a decade out of our respective Christian upbringings.  And they are asking if it is specifically a Christian prayer, or if it could be considered "generic" and "not advancing a specific faith".

Are.  You.  Fucking.  Kidding me?

How is this even a question?

The context of it, if you don't want to click through, is a case on whether the legislative prayer used to open sessions of Sussex County Council meetings is Constitutional or not.  They apparently open their sessions with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer.  Legislative prayer has been certified by the Supreme Court as Constitutional so long as it does not advance any particular faith; Sussex County's lawyers are arguing that the Lord's Prayer is "generic", so therefore, it should be considered Constitutional.

More specifically, when questioned on whether the Lord's Prayer is specifically Christian, one of the attorneys for Sussex County replied that "[Jesus] was not offering a Christian prayer in the Christian tradition because no Christian tradition existed."




So you're talking about a very specific prayer, laid out by the founder of your religion, lifted word-for-word from passages in the holy book of your religion (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4)...but you want to claim it's "not a Christian prayer" because at the time that your founder uttered it the religion had not actually been formed yet?

I just can't even believe they're arguing this with a straight face in a court of law.  Nor can I believe that the judge has said it might be "a difficult case" because there is no mention of Jesus by name, as if that's the final arbiter of whether or not a prayer is Christian in nature.  If it's taken from your scriptures, used in your churches (and only in your churches, as I can't think of any other religious group that uses the Lord's Prayer, ever), I don't care if it explicitly names a deity or not, it's a Christian prayer.

But hey, if that's the logic we're using here, perhaps I should see if I can get my local City Council to start opening legislative sessions with the Charge of the Goddess.  It names, like, ten deities - that's more inclusive than the Lord's Prayer! - and obviously that means it's not advancing any one deity and therefore should be totally cool as a "generic" prayer that "doesn't advance any particular religion", amirite?



Happy Birthday, and also happy one-month-of-new-home day, to SWHNYBN, who has in fact been named:

Lady Mara McNibbon, Duchess of the Laundry Pile, is not amused.
Here, have a video of her playing one of her favorite games, "Tear up Daddy's arms while suspended in midair", with Ozz.

Video description: Ozz, a tall, heavyset white man with long brown hair and a goatee, holding Mara, a petite white-calico-tabby cat with one arm.  She is busily chewing on his fingers as he holds her suspended over his arm. You can hear me behind the camera laughing at the two of them.  Suddenly Mara stops and lifts her head to look in my direction with a surprised "Who me?" expression.  I giggle and say "Oh hai, sweetie", then "Oh, no, back to chewing on Daddy's hand." as she decides nomming his hand is more interesting.  He extends his arm to me, Mara still dangling and chewing on him, like he's going to hand her to me.  "Ack, no, do not hand that to me.  It's all teeth."  He pulls her back to his chest; "Yeah, she can keep chewing on you, that's fine."  He turns and tries to set his little bundle of teeth on the couch, but as soon as she hits the cushion she whips around onto her back and grabs his arm with all four legs, pulling him down to keep nomming.  "Well, apparently putting it down doesn't work."  She starts trying to climb her way up his arm with front paws and teeth; he shakes her off.  Undeterred, she pounces at his hand again.  They wrestle a little bit more, until he gets a hand under her and scoops her up off the couch so she's dangling in midair again, which fazes her not even a little.  I laugh again, and she looks up startled right at the camera, then abruptly calms down and lets herself be tucked under Ozz's arm like a furry little football as I say "I guess we're done then."  Fin.

Hope everyone's having an awesome weekend!


To The "Pro-Life Feminist" On Tumblr Today

(Prompted by a small back-and-forth between an anti-abortion "feminist" and myself on Tumblr yesterday and today, consisting of these three posts.)

I snarked at you earlier.  I was a mocking asshole, because that's sort of my style in discussions like this.  I make no apology for it, either.  But I want you to understand the seriousness underlying my snark and rudeness:

You use these certain arguments against abortion; you say that "it's a serious decision" and talk about abortion as "killing one's child" and how abortions not in the case of rape or dangerous health risks are "just a choice, like buying a new purse at the mall" and so on - but when called out, you try to escape responsibility by disclaiming it as "just your opinion" because you, unlike those other anti-choicers, are realistic enough to understand what criminalizing abortion would do, and therefore you don't support making abortion illegal (so therefore I, and other pro-choicers and real feminists, should shut up and leave you alone because you're not trying to have it banned so it's okay, as if criminalization were the only real problem with the anti-choice movement).

The problem with that is that your arguments are exactly the kinds of arguments, exactly the kind of language that gets used by those who do support and actively work toward making abortion illegal.  "It's a serious decision" justifies burdensome waiting periods which necessitate multiple appointments, thus raising the costs of abortion (including travel and accommodation, because nearly 90% of counties in the US don't have an abortion provider so most people have to travel to obtain one) well out of reach for many low-income people, and invasive, propaganda-based "[hyper-, mis-]informed consent" laws designed to scare, guilt, shame, or otherwise emotionally manipulate pregnant people into continuing their pregnancy.  Sensationalizing abortion as "the right to kill my baby" is, well, basically the whole justification for the anti-choice movement, which is not only seeking to completely ban abortion, but would like to take on hormonal birth control as well; specifically, though, that kind of phrasing gets used to push extremist "fetal personhood" measures, which are well-documented to be epic fuckery.  Minimizing and dismissing voluntarily-chosen abortions by comparing it to the frivolous purchase of accessories reinforces right-wing talking points to nurture the stereotype of people who seek abortions as airheaded sluts who fuck a dozen people and then pop in to the clinic for a quickie abortion between brunch and a manicure - and lest you claim that stereotypes are no big deal, they help to push public opinion toward favoring criminalization, creating a more hospitable social climate for those anti-choicers who do want to see abortion made illegal.

Shorter version of that paragraph: Even if you don't support criminalizing abortion, when you say things like this, you are aiding and abetting those who do.

I speak to you as a person who has used her constitutional right to reproductive self-determination before, and would again if the situation came up again.  I speak as someone who is so horrified and sickened by the thought of being forced - and being pressured is nearly the same thing, it's just enforced by social sanction instead of legal penalties - to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term that I would literally rather die than have my body commandeered and used against me that way.  And when you say these things to me, I don't care that they're only your personal belief and you would never have them brought into law to rule over me, because I live in a country where every day I see and hear people who WOULD have those beliefs legislated onto my body against my will speaking the EXACT SAME ARGUMENTS that you are using.  When you argue their talking points, using their language, you present yourself to me as one of Them: an enemy, not an ally.

You speak in concert with those who would take my rights away, who would render me only a passenger in my own flesh, subordinated to the needs of an invader I didn't want and didn't ask for, forced to risk my life and health to give it birth.  The distinction of whether or not you would support them in their criminalization efforts is functionally irrelevant to me, because when you parrot their arguments and pass it along, you are another voice for their side - especially if you don't explicitly lay out your beliefs on legislative solutions in contrast to theirs when you speak or write about it.  Simply put, you are strengthening their position.  You are giving them social sanction, making it easier for them to do the work of criminalization, whether you agree with them in that or not.

And I will never be willing to acknowledge the label of feminist when it is worn by someone who, even indirectly, supports the anti-choice movement.  You are, at best, a badly misguided fauxminist; at worst, a colluder actively perpetuating our oppression.  You are not, in any sense of the word, a feminist.


Would somebody put a stake through this thing's heart, already?

We have killed it three times already, and it simply will not stay dead!  Via RHRealityCheck, I hear that the zombie parental notification bill is back in California again, after defeats in 2005, 2006, and 2008, for another round.  Two different versions of the bill (one of which would require a 48-hour waiting period between notification and procedure, the other of which would not) are now circulating petitions to gather signatures in the hopes of making it to the ballot for 2012.

This particular fight is, in a strange way, dear to my heart, as it was the scene of my first involvement in a political campaign as an adult, back in 2005 - the first demonstration I ever went to was coordinated through the Santa Cruz Planned Parenthood against Prop 73, the first phone banking effort I took part in was also through them for the same issue.  It brings up good memories, but at the same time, it's annoying to see an issue I first fought for as a rosy-cheeked behbeh activist still in my teens, coming up again.

Admittedly, pro-choicers in CA sort of knew this would happen; the initiative has been funded each time by a wealthy conservative newspaper owner in SoCal who has publicly vowed to keep trying until it passes, and he's renewed that commitment after every defeat.  (Gee, must be nice to have money enough to throw at a failing proposition year after year - voter initiatives don't come cheap, especially if they get sufficient publicity to turn truly contentious.)  It does, however, mean the rights of young Californians will be continually at risk, until Mr. Holman either dies, or gets bored of it, or gets the message and goes away.

I would be surprised to see this bill fail to get enough signatures, since it's managed to multiple times before and this time, it's riding a surge wave of anti-choice momentum from the past year.  Most likely, it will end up on the ballot, meaning another campaign, more money and time and effort spent on simply trying to hold the crumbling battlements against the unending anti-choice onslaught.

Well, I'll be there.  Again.  And to my readers in California - or anywhere else, if you have the means to remotely assist - I hope to see you there, on the front lines.


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