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I Am Mad About A Thing: Go Big For The Ladies, Democrats, Or GTFO

I Am Mad About A Thing: Go Big For The Ladies, Democrats, Or GTFO

I’m probably not supposed to say this. I should be a Good Democrat and a Good Feminist and take the latest symbolic crumbs Senate Democrats are offering and say, “Thank you, sir.” (They are mostly sir, of course, which is part of ALL the problems, but let’s not even get into that right now.)

In response to the Supreme Court’s god-frickin’-awful decision on Hobby Lobby, Democrats are taking a Bold StandTM by introducing a bill, which they are going to fast-track so they can vote on it immediately, to “fix” the Court’s decision. Let’s put aside the question of whether this bill, if it were to pass the Senate, would ever see the light of day in the House (the answer is no, of course not, are you high?), and pretend this is not mostly a symbolic gesture intended to appeal to women voters and reach out to the base because it’s an election year, in case you hadn’t noticed.

The bill, which is co-authored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), would ban for-profit companies from refusing to cover any federally guaranteed health benefits for religious reasons, including all 20 forms of contraception detailed in the Affordable Care Act. It would preserve the contraception mandate’s current exemption for churches and accommodation for non-profit religious organizations, such as certain hospitals and schools.

Now, I don’t doubt the sincerity of Sen. Murray. I believe she is as mad as hell and does not want to take it anymore. In an interview in April about the case, she said, “there are more people willing to stand up and make the case that women should make their own health care decisions.” And yes, I think she’s one of them. And yes, I think there are others in the Senate and in the House, and they believe the assault on women’s health care is atrocious, the Supreme Court’s decision is atrocious, and something should be done, even if, let’s face it, they’re not going to get this done.

BUT. Oh yes, there is a BUT.

If Democrats are going to continue the mistake of the Obama administration by conceding that any objections to women’s health care — by anyone, for any reason — are valid, WHAT IS EVEN THE GODDAMNED POINT? These objections are not valid. They are not based on science or medicine or the public welfare. They have no place in determining health care policy. They never have.

And yet, in the very bill to “fix” the Hobby Lobby problem, Democrats — because they are, sigh, Democrats — say that some sons of bitches who think religious objections to health care TOTALLY have a point, just not those closely held corporation sons of bitches, because that’s RIDICULOUS!, but as for churches and non-profits, that’s not RIDICULOUS!, that’s reasonable because religion and stuff.

No. Hell no. Hell fucking no. That’s the first mistake.

Here’s the second. As long as Democrats are making bold fast-tracked, base-rallying gestures to record for posterity their OUTRAGE!!!! — and to remind the lady voters this fall that at least Democrats tried because oh yeah, it’s an election year in case you’d forgotten — why think so small? Why fight for one little fix to one problem? Why not go big, go for the whole damned thing, and fast-track the Equal Rights Amendment?

If the political strategy is to force Senate Republicans to cast an awkward vote against women, which, by the way, they will do proudly in the name of “religious liberty,” why not make it awkward for them for real? “Sen. So-and-So voted against equal freakin‘ rights” is a much better ad than “Sen. So-And-So voted against a bill to address the gap in the contraception mandate that currently allows employers with sincerely held religious beliefs to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … ”

Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s a start. It’s better than nothing. Let’s be Realistic And Serious because we are Democrats, sigh, and Democrats try to be Realistic And Serious. But if we’re being Realistic And Serious, we should admit the bill won’t pass anyway, so why not raise some actual genuine hell to make a much more serious and pressing point?

Not only would the Equal Rights Amendment fix Hobby Lobby, and all of the state restrictions on abortion access — Sen. Richard Blumenthal last year introduced the Women’s Health Care Act to do exactly that, and of course that bill went exactly nowhere — but it would fix a lot of other problems too, like our unfair pay and discrimination in the workplace and all the trazillion other ways we get special treatment in the not good way because we are women, and there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the government can’t do that. (No, really, it’s true. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you can’t do that. Justice Scalia said so, and at the risk of making myself nauseous, he’s got a point.)

Look, I am not a total idiot. I know that when it comes to the rights of women, the Democratic Party is eleventeen trazillion times better than the Republican Party. Democrats are all, “Yes, we think violence against women is actually a bad thing that we should try to reduce,” while Republicans are all, “SHUT UP, OBAMA BENGHAZI TAX CUTS GRRRRRRRR!” Democrats are all, “We think women should be paid equally to men, let’s try to make that happen somehow,” while Republicans are all, “SHUT UP, YOU’RE THE REAL SEXISTS, WOMEN DON’T CARE ABOUT MONEY GRRRRRRRR!” Democrats are all, “We believe in a woman’s right to choose [hush-hush voice] an abortion, but we don’t like to say that word because abortion is a Terrible Tragedy, but it should be safe (yes), legal (it is), and rare (because stigmatizing abortion sure is great strategy).” Republicans are all “BABIES! AMERICAN HOLOCAUST! GRRRRRRRR!”

Sigh. Yes, Democrats are better than Republicans. Syphilis is better than Republicans. Maybe we should raise the bar just a tiny bit. If Democrats want to be the party that is good for women, not just the party that isn’t as bad for women, they need to stop conceding THE WHOLE GODDAMNED POINT. Women’s health care is not a separate, special issue for the public to debate, for judges to define, for anyone to restrict because of their beliefs. Discriminating against women because they are women — and make no mistake, restricting health care for women is discrimination — IS BULLSHIT. It is patriarchal, unjust, un-American, un-good sexist BULLSHIT. We pretend that, in retrospect, sure, the Constitution’s got us covered if you squint and read between the lines. Even though, despite the equal protection of the 14th Amendment, we didn’t get the vote until 1920. It was perfectly fine and legal to pay women less just for being women until 1963. (And by the way, we’re still working on that.) We didn’t get the right to have credit in our own names until 1974. And it is still legal to create an entirely separate body of laws to regulate health care only for women. As the Supreme Court just reminded us, that’s perfectly constitutional. That’s the real problem we need to fix. And I am so sick and tired of being so sick and tired of being grateful for not-as-bad-as-the-other-guys crumbs. Pretty damned sure, by the way, I’m not the only one.

So come on, Democrats. Go big for the ladies, or get the fuck out.


Follow Kaili Joy Gray on Twitter or GTFO.

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  • lesterthegiantape

    I find it sort of hilars that anybody even votes any more. But that’s just me. I’m all disaffected and whatnot.

    • temporarily’tom’

      you vote because of who you need to keep out, NOT who you want in…This ain’t the time for apathy. Vote the dems in and SCREAM at them when they are big fucking accomodating pussies! Look what Reid did to put the snuff on the gvt shutdown last year…RIDE EM TIL THEY GIVE US WHAT WE WANT…But DO vote for them as what else you gonna do…Except YELL IN THEIR EAR!

      • lesterthegiantape

        Yes, yes. All very fine sentiment. I take it you haven’t been following politics the last thirty years.

    • Brendan_M

      “Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Even Try” is not as bad as “Keep The White House White” as bumper sticker, but I’d still probably flip you off in traffic

      • lesterthegiantape

        That’s okay, I’d probably think you were a shitty driver.

  • Jack

    While I agree that Dems doing something is better than nothing and all that, I am bullshit that we are STILL having this conversation! My goddamn mother’s generation, (sorry for the bad word mom) fought this fight, and it was OVER! What the Hell???

    • sosuume

      Thanks for recognizing this and indeed you should be upset! Think about how your mom’s generation must feel. Deja vu all over again, as they say.

  • SullivanSt

    The way you are mad about this thing makes me mad about another thing: our first-past-the-post, two party system.It makes it almost impossible for a credible third party to arise. Even if that happened, the result would be that we would have minority rule (like we happen to have now in the House) almost all the time (like Britain – it’s very rare over there for any party to accrue a majority of votes, but in Blair’s third election he won a working majority of Parliament with only 35% of the votes of the 61% of eligible voters who could even be bothered, which is totally fucked up).With only two viable options for voters, the parties have no incentive to actually represent the policy preferences of a large number of voters. All they have to do is be able to convince half the people that the other bunch of assholes is worse.There’s a bunch of people who don’t vote because they have noone to vote for. Roughly half of the people who do vote do so for the losing party, and they get essentially no representation at all. Most of the people who vote for the winning party do so mostly because the other bunch sucked worse, not because they mostly agree with the policies the winning party, and these people get minimal representation.It would be hard to invent another system with the appearance of democracy that did a worse job of actually representing the will of the people.

    • $113808841

      Plurality voting is probably something that will have to be fixed at the state level (federal law only mandates single-member House districts, not how they’re chosen). On the plus side, it’s something you could actually get voter initiatives on (real petitions, not those bullshit White House ones).

  • goonemeritus

    If only Democrats would compromise a little with the Republicans in the house a bipartisan bill that allowed women the use of jumping jacks for birth control could be enacted.

    • Brendan_M

      While so-called scientists and medical professionals may disagree, my church/crafts store and I are of the conviction that jumping jacks are an abortifacient.

  • BigRedDog

    I see the gentle glow from the best pelvic evar has worn off.

  • Zippy W Pinhead

    Good luck wit dat. The problem is- the safest place electorally for the Dems to be is just to the left of the GOP and not an inch further towards that side of the equation. As long as they feel no pressure from their left they have zero incentive to move that direction, or even give a fuck about the left wing of the party, as long as they can credibly say “at least we’re not as bad as those clowns”. It’s the age old question- how long do you continue to vote for the lesser of two evils before you have to admit that you’re still voting for evil? The alternative is to Nader the election and let the worse evil in by splitting the vote. This dilemma has spawned a thousand internet debates amongst the faithful and I certainly don’t claim to have a satisfactory answer.

    • Brendan_M

      Not in a midterm year. Motivating the base is the key.

    • $113808841

      The American Left is pissed off but not pissed off enough to, y’know, unify. Splitters.

      • SullivanSt

        Tragically in many cases, not pissed off enough to, y’know, vote.

        • Zippy W Pinhead

          and therein lies the problem

  • temporarily’tom’

    That. Was. The . Best. Kaili evah! I mean fuck yes.Dems! jesus, shit or get off the pot awreddy!

  • Lynne Bolton

    I wish I could believe that this will do some good. The truth is, I don’t. It doesn’t really change anything. As a woman I am tired of this kind of fig-leaf legislation that allows people to feel good about “making a statement” but does absolutely nothing to protect our rights. Especially when everyone knows that even if this passes in the Senate there is no chance in hell it will come up for a vote in the House. There are really only two options – the ONLY things that will have any impact: First, allies need to join women in voting OUT the legislators who continue to make war on women – from School Boards to the Executive Branch. Women have been the backbone of every social justice movement, with the understanding that in turn we would have support. So far, this has failed. NOW is the time for allies to stand up for us. We all must do more than talk – we must ACT.Second: It is time to get serious and pass the ERA. We can no longer afford to kid ourselves that CEOs and legislators will protect our rights. We must make it clear that the time for this has come. If our country can recognize the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, if our country can recognize the rights of people of color (yes – even though this is done imperfectly), then this country can begin to recognize the rights of women.

    • Brendan_M

      Making incumbents go on record shitting all over women is better than just pointing out that they are doing it. It is much harder to obfuscate on an issue when you have to vote yea or nay on it. Kaili makes an excellent point about making the issues as clear as possible. Everyday until the election the Senate should hold votes on bills like “Rape is Rape, FFS,” “Free Kittens, American Flags, and Birth Control for All,” “No Guns for Suspected Terrorists or Babies,” “Pay Everyone at Least Like They Work at Costco,” “The Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts Are Good,” etc..

      • Lynne Bolton

        I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t get legislators on the record. I believe that is important. I’m making the point that this a) is not enough and b) is a pattern of legislative behavior – shitty SCOTUS decision or House bill happens, so let’s do some legislation that show’s we’re right-thinking dems, that actually has no real effect. We deserve more, and until we start demanding more, we won’t get it.

  • Hell yes.

  • $113808841

    The Fount of All Knowledge (and NOW) makes mention of the Three-State Strategy, wherein three more states ratify the old ERA, in spite of an included ratification deadline and in spite of some states claiming to rescind their ratification, and we let the chips fall where they may. Would it be a legal clusterfuck? Sure, but it’s not like we’re not in one already, and it would force Congress members to take sides in a way that burying yet another bill in committee won’t accomplish.Right now the most likely candidate is Virginia, where the Democrat-controlled Virginia Senate has ratified the ERA repeatedly in recent years, as recently as five months ago. Terry McCollum could do something meaningful and productive for once in his life and call for a special session in which the House of Delegates (Cantor’s old haunt) can further embarrass Virginia Republicans.Illinois has also poked at the ERA in recent years but has yet to ratify, apparently because of some weird supermajority requirement for ratifying federal amendments in that state. It’s an election year for them, though, so there’s no time like the present to make it an election issue.I can’t figure out who a likely third state would be, though. Best I can see is Nevada, North Carolina or Florida. The first two are having state elections this year.

  • psychobroad

    Thank you, Angry Mouse!