Boehner triples Defense of Marriage Act legal budget

What a hypocrite. After practically taking our government hostage with his deficit hysteria, House Speaker John Boehner decides that bigotry isn’t getting enough money. He has tripled the legal budget of DOMA to 1.5 million dollars. Yes, over a million of our tax payer dollars are now being used to defend an unconstitutional law that discriminates against gay and lesbian couples – the same couples who are paying those taxes.

Hey, Boehner? When we say we need to create jobs, we don’t mean a couple of jobs for a couple of despicable lawyers who will make the homophobes of America sleep better at night.


Dan Savage is an evil genius

From Think Progress:

Sex columnist Dan Savage has offered a new threat to Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum: If Santorum continues to attack gays and lesbians during his campaign, Savage will expand his “google problem” by redefining “Rick.” Savage led a campaign to redefine “Santorum” in 2003 after Santorum compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia. Other people named Rick chimed in to urge Santorum to heed Savage’s threat.

“Men should have veto power over abortions; Women should be held criminally liable if they refuse”

Put on your rage hats, folks. This one’s a doozy.
Keith Ablow – psychiatrist, psychological thriller author, and Fox News personality – thinks that not only should men have veto power over abortions, but women who ignore said veto should be held criminally responsible. Why? Take it away, Keith.

I have limited the scope of my argument intentionally, in order to focus on what I consider to be a question that puts fairness front and center: If a man has participated in creating a new life and is fully willing to parent his child (independently, if necessary), why should he not have any control over whether that life is ended?

Because I man doesn’t have to carry said child for nine months. When we achieve the technology to remove a fetus and put it in a mechanical womb chamber, then we can have the discussion on paternal input.

We are ignoring the quiet message that current abortion policy conveys to every American male: You have no voice in, and, therefore, no responsibility for, the pregnancies which you help to create. Your descendants are disposable, at the whim of the women you choose to be intimate with.

Or maybe you should know if a woman is pro-choice or not before you stick your penis in her, and if it’s so goddamn important to you, then don’t stick your penis in her. A mindblowing proposal, I know.

Giving would-be fathers a lack of veto power over abortions is connected psychologically to the epidemic of absentee fathers in this country. We can’t, on the one hand, be credible in bemoaning the number of single mothers raising their children, while, on the other hand, giving men the clear message that bringing new lives to the planet is the exclusive domain, and under the exclusive control, of women.

Whether stated or not, the underlying message of withholding from men their proper rights to father the children they create is that they are not proper custodians, nor properly responsible, for their children.

The notion that there is no emotional injury done men by depriving them of decision-making power as to whether the children they father are aborted is naïve.

Just in my own practice of psychiatry, I have listened to dozens of men express lingering, sometimes intense, pain over abortions that proceeded either without their consent, or without them having spoken up about their desires to bring their children to term and parent them.

Should we really continue to give men the clear message that that they should deny, and that we have no regard for, their feelings about the unrealized lives of their potential sons and daughters?

Isn’t it interesting that we don’t generally even ask fathers how they are feeling in the days leading to abortions, nor in their aftermath? We don’t even ask how they are feeling in the aftermath of abortions of fetuses who have reached the second trimester, even if they have been seen by their fathers during ultrasound imaging. Aren’t we at risk of suggesting that we don’t much care how they feel?

Men haven’t been taught that they should consider the lives they help create as their responsibility from conception (other than providing financially for the child if born), but I believe those lives are their responsibility. And I believe that with that responsibility ought come certain rights.

Citation needed.

I understand that adopting social policy that gives fathers the right to veto abortions would lead to presently unknown psychological consequences for women forced to carry babies to term. But I don’t know that those consequences are greater than those suffered by men forced to end the lives of their unborn children.

Um, actually, the consequences aren’t unknown, because we have data from thousands of years of women not being able to have abortions. We’ve historically been nothing more than baby incubators, and that’s exactly what you want to return to. And you know what happens when women are forced to carry babies to term? They still try to get back alley abortions, and women die.

Adult humans dying. Kind of more important than emotional consequences or the abortion of some cells that don’t have feelings or memories or dreams.

And I am absolutely certain that no woman needs to become pregnant who wishes not to become pregnant. Women taking full responsibility for their sexual activity and their bodies would mean that no woman would face the prospect of being compelled to bring a child to term.

But men can’t take responsibility for their sexual activity by choosing to have sex with someone who’s anti-choice. Because that would restrict men’s ability to have sex freely, when this issue is really about punishing women who have sex.

Seriously, if this paragraph doesn’t illustrate that mindset, I don’t know what will. In what world do we live in that we force people to suffer through all negative consequences instead of trying to alleviate them when possible? If you go skiing, you know there’s a chance you might break your leg. If it happens do we scream “WELL YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE GONE SKIING, SUFFER THROUGH IT!”?

No, we let you go to the fucking doctor.

It’s time to give men their due as fathers—from the moment of conception. Allow men who want to be fathers, and who could be good parents, to compel the women they impregnate to bring their children to term.

Because a man’s feelings are more important than control over your own body. Hear that, ladies?

Look, I do think open communication is important in relationships, and that serious issues like abortion should at least be discussed before making a decision. That’s assuming a healthy relationship, and not cases of rape, incest, abuse, etc where the woman’s disclosure may put her at risk. But we can’t ignore the fact that there’s a biological difference here – women carry children, men do not. That’s why the final decision ultimately lands in the hands of the woman, even if it does cause some distress to men. There’s absolutely no reason to give a man veto power other than the patriarchal idea that men deserve control over women.

I wish I didn’t have to explain this, but anti-choice and anti-women sentiments are rapidly growing in the US. A fact more terrifying than any of this guy’s novels.

This is post 26 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Coopting the Norweigan terrorist attacks for Islamophobia

I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around how much of a tragedy the Norway terrorist attacks are. 92 people are confirmed dead, 85 of which are youth ages mostly between the ages of 16 and 22. They were at a camp trained to foster future leaders of Norway. Many jumped into the water in an attempt to escape the shooter’s indiscriminate bullets, many to no avail.

What human being does something like that?

But instead of mourning this tragedy, the American media is already falling all over itself to blame Those Evil Muslims. Unsurprisingly, Fox News was one of the first to claim that the horrifying terrorist attacks in Norway were by Muslim extremists. This is despite the fact that the main suspect that’s in custody is a right wing extremist, fundamentalist Christian, and Islamophobe.

And if that’s not enough? The O’Reilly Factor directly juxtaposed the Norwegian attacks with the legal victory of the Park 51 New York City Islamic Center.

Wow, how subtle.

It’s despicable how the media turns a tragedy into an exercise in irrational finger pointing. There are plenty of rational, fact-based reasons to criticize Islam – fabricating connections to every terrorist attacks is not one of them.

But the other annoying point? When it’s an Islamic extremist, the attacker is a religious terrorists. When we find out it’s really a Christian extremist, he’s suddenly a madmen who doesn’t represent other members of that faith.

Double standard much?

My thoughts go out to all of the people of Norway. If I have any Norweigan readers, I hope you and your families and friends are safe.

This is post 17 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Sarah Palin adds another grandchild to her list of hypocrisy

She’s against comprehensive sex education. She’s against contraceptives being available in schools. She cut funding for a program that helps teen mothers. She set up her daughter – who admitted abstinence is not realistic after having a child of her own – to be a spokesperson for abstinence, making hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
And now? She has another out of wedlock grandchild on the way:

In a not so surprising turn-of-events, the news that Sarah’s son Track is expecting a baby with his wife Britta was just released Thursday.

Pictures of the new bride posted on Facebook show that she is rather obviously expecting, while her marriage took place just two months ago.

The quick ceremony prompted many to ask whether Britta was pregnant, but supporters of conservative Sarah became extremely upset, continuing to argue that the new couple was not expecting. It certainly seemed like a shot-gun wedding, and today it was finally confirmed that the pregnancy came before the marriage.

You know, I wouldn’t give a flying diddly about this if Palin wasn’t trying to shove her beliefs down everyone’s throats. I think people should have all the sex they want regardless of their marital status, and that said status shouldn’t matter if you want to have a child.

It’s one thing to force abstinence only education on the public when study after study has shown it to be ineffective. When you’re anti-science like Palin, I can understand that things like facts wouldn’t change your mind. But when you can’t even use your method effectively in your own family, you think that would be a sign that maybe this shit doesn’t work.

But you know what I think is the really scary part of this story? That it’s more important to have shot gun weddings to save face instead of using a fucking condom. You’re going to make a life commitment to someone because you accidentally knocked them up? Really? And these are the same people arguing about sanctity of marriage. The same people who won’t let same sex couples who love each other get married.

Yep, that’s a great system of morals.

This is post 9 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Is society taking a step backward?

Our first top donor question:

“I was a teenager in Southern California during the 70s. I was raised in an environment where feminism was considered the norm. Imagine my surprise when 30 years later I find the social climate seems to have taken a step back. I’m often thinking, “Didn’t we already cover this?” Feminism is just one example. The persistence of anti-science views such as anti-evolution and anti-vaccinations are others. Lack of tolerance for anyone who doesn’t adhere to society’s norms. I’ve always assumed that as a society we are moving forward, but I’ve never looked for concrete confirmation. Are there objective measures for things like social tolerance? If so, how are we doing?”

I’m not sure if there’s a truly objective measure – you can’t whip out your Tolerancometer and see how many milliKings a person is emitting. But we can estimate how much progress is being made in social movements by comparing where we are now with where we were ten, fifty, or a hundred years ago.
And I think that’s what you have to keep in mind – that we need to look at general trends. Social progress, like many things, is often two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes the current climate is certainly daunting – evolution and climate change deniers being as loud as ever, women’s health being thrown by the wayside, gays still not being able to have the same rights as straight couples.

But in the big picture, we have come a long way. Science triumphed over ignorance in the 2006 Dover trial, unlike in the Scopes trial. Birth control is one step closer to being subsidized, where 40 years ago you couldn’t even get a legal abortion. More and more states are legalizing gay marriage, when coming out in the 80s could get the shit beaten out of you.

Are things perfect? Certainly not. That’s why it’s still important for people to be outspoken advocates for science, feminism, and gay rights. Because while it’s better now, we want to limit that one step back to just one step, instead of tumbling all the way back to the Dark Ages.

You also have to take location into account. Southern California isn’t exactly a typical representation of the rest of the world, the rest of the US, or the rest of California for that matter. There are pockets of places that are more progressive, just as there are pockets that have a lot of catching up to do. Hello, the Middle East. …And China. …And Africa. …And…oh dear, we have a lot of pockets to work with, don’t we?

So even if your little spot on this planet seems to be doing alright, activism is still important. I see a lot of apathy in Seattle because it’s basically godless liberal paradise. What people forget is that if all of your neighbors are socially regressive, their views and votes will eventually effect you. So stay optimistic about the future, but keep up the endless fight for progress.

This is post 6 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

SCA pressures Obama on faith-based hiring discriminaton

Yesterday President Obama was speaking at a town hall event in Maryland. The first person to ask him a question was none other than Amanda Knief, Government Relations Manager for the Secular Coalition for America. Go Amanda!

Transcript from Friendly Atheist:

Knief: I’m an atheist, and in Zanesville, Ohio in 2008, you asserted that no organization receiving taxpayer funds would be able to discriminate in hiring or firing based on a person’s religion. However, you have not rescinded the Executive Order that permits this type of discrimination.

In a time of economic hardship, when it’s difficult for a person to get a job based on her skills, what would you say to a woman who has been denied employment because of her religion or lack of religious beliefs by a taxpayer-funded organization?

Obama: Well, this is a very difficult issue, but a more narrow one that I think might be implied. It’s very straightforward that people shouldn’t be discriminated against for race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation.

What has happened is that there has been a carve-out dating back to President Clinton’s presidency for religious organizations in their hiring for particular purposes. And if — this is always a tricky part of the First Amendment. On the one hand, the First Amendment ensures that there is freedom of religion. On the other hand, we want to make sure that religious bodies are abiding by general laws. And so where this issue has come up is in fairly narrow circumstances where, for example, you’ve
got a faith-based organization that’s providing certain services. They consider part of their mission to be promoting their religious views.

But they may have a daycare center associated with the organization, or they may be running a food pantry. So then the question is: Does a Jewish organization have to hire a non-Jewish person as part of that organization?

Now, I think that the balance we’ve tried to strike is to say that if you are offering — if you have set up a non-profit that is disassociated from your core religious function and is out there in the public doing all kinds of work, then you have to abide generally with the non-discrimination hiring practices. If, on the other hand, it is closer to your core functions as a synagogue or a mosque or a church, then there may be more leeway for you to hire somebody who is a believer of that particular religious faith.

It doesn’t satisfy everybody. I will tell you that a lot of faith-based organizations think that we are too restrictive in how we define those issues. There are others, like you, obviously, who think we are not restrictive enough.

I think we’ve struck the right balance so far, but this is something that we continue to be in dialogue with faith-based organizations about to try to make sure that their hiring practices are as open and as inclusive as possible.

Amanda was disappointed with the response:

“Unfortunately, the president didn’t address the most egregious aspect of this policy – that religious discrimination is occurring on the taxpayer’s dime. Discrimination is wrong in all forms, especially when it is being funded by taxpayers.”

Or as I like to summarize it:I think this summarizes why I’m disappointed with Obama on so many issues. To me, it’s not doing what will satisfy the most people. It’s doing what’s constitutional. If something makes your religious constituents cranky or not theoretically shouldn’t even be taken into account.

But I know, I know. It’s politics. He wants to get reelected and all. I keep fantasizing that once Obama is in his second term, he’ll rip off his shirt and reveal some sort of godless, gay marriage-loving super hero underneath.

…Wishful thinking.

This is post 2 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Is free birth control coming soon?

Possibly, and hopefully:

The Institute of Medicine recommended on Tuesday that health care insurers cover the cost of birth control under the new federal health care law. This was just one of the findings on preventive health care services for women from the Institute, the branch of the National Academies of Science tasked with providing research and information on medical topics. But like pretty much everything dealing with women’s health these days, this has turned into a debate about abortion.

The Department of Health and Human Services will get to make the ultimate decision about whether insurers will be required to provide birth control free of charge, but this is a good indication that it will. The new health care law requires insurers to cover preventative health care, and the administration directed the Institute to determine what that should include.

This isn’t just a matter of saving women some money (though I will personally cheer for that). From a purely practical standpoint, it costs much less money to provide birth control than it does to raise a child. The government should be happy to support this. Not to mention providing birth control also decreases abortions and teen pregnancies. I’m sure the religious right will be the first to promote free birth control, right?

If coming up with funding is an issue, maybe they can use this super cheap and highly effective birth control method:

As someone with two 4 year old nephews, I can attest to its effectiveness.