Speaking of Women's Rights: 10/10

Monday, October 25, 2010

Terrifying and Exhilarating:
Bungie jumping for some...
campaign season for me.

A guest blog by Legal Voice Lobbyist Pam Crone

At times, the campaign experience may feel more like a free fall from the 75th floor of the Columbia Tower. Politics is not a spectator sport. That's why I phone bank and walk door to door every autumn during the even years. And I like it... that is the crazy part. I love chatting with voters who have a lot to say when given half a chance. This week I was on the phones. You never know what someone is going to say. That's the fun part and rarely are people rude even though you are entering their space and asking for some of their precious time. Midway into my calls, I spoke with a voter in his eighties who had received his ballot and was making his way through the Voter Pamphlet. He spoke slowly and deliberatively about his review of the initiatives.

So here is a little context:

The State of Washington Voters' Pamphlet is 119 pages long with 35 critical pages devoted to six proposed ballot measures that are game changers. It is not news to this audience that our state has been hit hard by the Great Recession and one of the effects has been a drop in the revenue our state has to fund critical safety net programs. Our legislators last year took hard votes to ensure we honor our values as a state. But first, I want to tell you what the voter shared with me. He said something like this, "It looks like we have government by ballot measure instead of by the people we send to Olympia to represent us." Washington's initiative process may be sacrosanct, but we might pause to consider its impact on the ability of our representative government to function. We can disagree with our legislators' votes and vote them out of office. That's what we do in a representative democracy. Even if we read the many pages describing the initiatives, are we really in a position to second guess their decisions? And worst of all, our initiative process allows unelected out-of-state corporations to cynically spend millions of dollars to undo the work of our elected legislature. How will our legislators ever have the political will to take tough votes to protect Washingtonians?

Now is the time to let our friends, family and neighbors know that Washingtonians need to do the right thing and oppose initiatives that straight jacket legislators AND remove revenue that protects and improves all of our lives.

Vote NO on I-1053, I-1100 and I-1105, I-1082, and I-1107.

Pam Crone lobbies for Legal Voice, and several other social-justice-oriented organizations in Washington State.

Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Color Purple

Pink – the seemingly official color of womanhood – is such an obvious choice for a salute to the strength of those who are hit with the heavy load that is breast cancer. And we all know what red is for. It’s plastered everywhere in ribbons and t-shirts, accompanied by throngs of supporters in walks and runs and fundraising breakfasts. But what about purple, October’s lesser-known color of awareness? How many people even know that October is the month in which we stop to remember how many people’s lives are affected by domestic violence?

I get it. Domestic violence is a complex subject to grasp – often carrying with it more questions than answers…

Should we support a woman’s decision to stay in an abusive relationship?

Are we breaking up families with mandatory arrests of batterers?

How do we keep women from being arrested when they fight back in self defense?

The issue of domestic violence is missing that clear villain that we have in breast cancer. And with all the varying factors - religion, culture, race, among others – the cure seems much more complex as well. Perhaps this is partly why our society is so reticent to talk about it?

In reading the blog of our good friends over at WSCADV, I came across this picture:

It got me to thinking about what kind of a world we’re setting up for our children. How will we make things different for them? How will we make sure that their world is free of violence? While researchers are coming closer and closer to cancer cures, domestic violence rates continue to climb. We owe it to the next generation to continue to dialogue about this epidemic, however confusing and uncomfortable it may be.

We also owe it to them to support programs that explore preventative tactics, like the King County Step Up program that provides counseling, support, and education for teens who are involved in domestic violence. Sadly, it is the only one of its kind in the country, and will be on the chopping block if King County Prop 1 doesn’t pass in this November’s election. Also set for huge funding cuts are the Eastside Domestic Violence Program , Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network.

So what can you do? You can start by donning a purple ribbon, and then make it mean something by encouraging everyone you know to preserve imperative domestic violence services by voting Yes on King County Proposition 1. Then you can help us to keep the conversation going…

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Out of a deep dark hole

This week the news is being dominated by the story of the nation of Chile banding together to rescue trapped miners from a collapsed mine, miles below the surface of the earth. When I learned that the first of the men had been returned to safety, I was overjoyed. It’s inspiring! People working together! People helping people out of deep dark holes! LITERALLY!

Unfortunately, recent news has also been filled with tales of young people stuck in deep metaphorical holes. Several LGBT teens, and teens bullied by people who perceived them as gay, have committed suicide in the past several weeks. Gay teens in U.S. schools seem, at the moment, to be in a sort of collapsed mineshaft socially: GLSEN reports that 9 out of 10 gay teens experience harassment at school.

You might ask, where’s the high tech apparatus that will haul the gay kids out of that hole? High school is difficult enough for so many young folks that no one deserves the added stress of ostracism and bullying.

To the rescue: Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project on YouTube. Savage, a writer in Seattle, made a video with his partner to tell LGBT youth that, no matter how bad thing seem, life gets better when you grow up. Hundreds of people have posted videos in response, mostly featuring gay adults who offer their own happy lives as proof that it’s possible to survive the difficulties of growing up gay.

Like the photos of joyful miners reuniting with their families, the It Gets Better videos are inspiring. Entries have come from regular folks, celebrities, and even the entire city of San Francisco:

Thankfully, this isn’t the only moment of inspiration that I’ve noticed lately. Let’s hope we can all keep finding ways to pull each other out of deep, dark places.

Photo credit