The 5 Most Offensive Sexist and Homophobic Moves by Conservatives: This Month Alone!
A sign at NYC's 2011 rally for women's health.
Photo Credit: Sarah Seltzer
It seems like with every cultural step forward by the country on the whole, the right-wing has to take a few leaps backward--and women, gays and minorities are the victims.
This month has already brought some great moments: massive protests on May 1 and the historic cultural moment when a sitting US president endorsed marriage equality. But simultaneously the GOP and other conservative institutions have gone on what felt like a vengeful tear. Maybe these racist, sexist and homophobic statements and bills really just constitute business as usual, a continuation of the "war on women," but in contrast to progress, it most certainly brings the term "reactionary" into a new light.
It also shows that the war on women isn't just on women--it's on anyone who doesn't conform to rigid patriarchal gender roles.
Here are five of the worst offenses this month.
1. Watered-down VAWA act simulteanously slams LGBT people, immigrant women and native women. This is obviously the most egregious of the offenses, because it's happening nationally and until this year the VAWA act has not been politicized or used to hurt certain groups.
But this year is different.The GOP-led house, with what Debbie Wasserman-Schultz assures is "a directive" from John Boehner, has politicized the issue by rolling back the bill's protections for LGBT Americans, immigrants whose status depends on marriage and the undocumented, and native women. Perhaps most shockingly, the new version initially required law enforcement to actually reveal the name of the accuser to the accused. This isn't happening in a vacuum.
Josh Glasseter wrote on Wednesday before the vote about the groups responsible for gutting these important protections:
This time around, however, top Religious Right groups have rallied against the bill due to the protections it would extend to immigrant, Native American, and LGBT victims of domestic abuse. These groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made noise on Capitol Hill and are most directly responsible for the events that will unfold in the House today.
It's petty, it's dangerous, and in this writer's opinion, it's pretty much anti-human decency. As Eleanor Smeal of the Feminist Majority Foundation said in her statement, "The House GOP VAWA reauthorization simply does not recognize that violence is violence and all victims deserve protection."
2. Hearing on abortion in DC excludes DC's female representative. Apparently the massive backlash--and viral photos--of Darrell Issa's all-male hearing about birth control didn't stop the same kind of shenanigans from happening at a hearing about Roe and abortion in Washington, DC:
Late this afternoon, a House subcommittee will gather to hear testimony on a bill that would prohibit abortions in D.C.—and only D.C.—after 20 weeks. Both the bill and hearing are the work of Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who has said that he is constitutionally charged with imposing laws on D.C.
As we reported earlier this week, though, one person won't be speaking at the hearing—D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who requested the opportunity to speak on behalf of D.C. constituents but was denied.
Holmes Norton, never one to take things sitting down, has said that this is "bullying" behavior and vowed to fight back.
3. Rejecting Virginia judicial candidate because he's gay, then saying "Sodomy is not a civil right." In Virginia, members of the House of Delegates failed to confirm Tracy Thorne-Begland, an openly gay formal Navy officer raising children with his partner, as a judicial candidate.
His nomination had been seen as a given, with bipartisan support, until lobbying from "both the Family Foundation, a powerful conservative group that opposed his candidacy, and conservative lawmakers, who argued that his past indicated that he would press an activist agenda from the bench " according to the New York Times.
Even worse? One of the leading opponents of the nomination, Bob Marshall, defended the decision after it got national heat:
Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office that they broke. Sodomy is not a civil right. It’s not the same as the Civil Rights Movement.
Really enlightened thinking there, Delegate Marshall. Still, Marshall has met his match in Bubba Carpenter, the state representative from Missouri. (See #4.)
4. Trying to effectively end legal abortion in Mississippi; then declaring that coathanger abortions may happen, "but you have to start somewhere."
In a video that was circulated widely, then taken down by the local GOP, Republican lawmaker Bubba Carpenter gleefully describes the onerous burdens placed on abortion doctors that will, if not challenged in court, "literally" end legal aboriton in Mississippi.
It's horrifying to hear him speak of the disguises the few doctors who currently fly into the state wear to avoid violence as though it's a good thing. But the kicker is when he describes "the other side (aka pro-choice advocates): "They're like, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state... are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger" and then he says,"But hey, you have to have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that’s what we've decided to do."
5. Bills allows pharmacists to deny care to women they think "may" be having abortions.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback expanded the state "conscience clauses" to allow religious employees at pharmacies and medical facilities to refuse service to women they think "may" be having an abortion. As Robin Marty writes, he's "legally blessed a virtually open-ended number of situations in which 'religious' workers can refuse to assist women under the guise that they believe they 'may be' terminating a pregnancy."
So one consequence is simply refusing to dispense contraception and emergency contraception pills, neither of which terminate pregnancies. But there are other implications, as Marty notes, including that, "The law could also allow refusal of even more medically necessary drugs simply because they may relate to abortions..." like drugs that stop bleeding, for instance.
The right-wing may eventually lose the culture wars, but they're going to go out kicking and screaming and trying to tear down as many rights as they can on their way down.