The Hobby Lobby Decision: A MainelyButch Perspective

There are 316 million people living in the United States. It’s unbelievable that our freedom to make life choices is controlled by only 9 Supreme Court Justices.

A friend of mine posted this as his status on Facebook earlier today…it made me really think about what he was saying.  Then I thought about it like, wait…only 5 Supreme Court Justices made the pro-life decision for Hobby Lobby yesterday…so we are being ruled by FIVE people in essence???  This infuriates me to no end.

Women have the right to reproductive choice and health in my opinion.  Men have full insurance coverage for all of the erectile dysfunction products like Viagra that are on the market, we didn’t exclude 4 of them on the guys!  So now SCOTUS has set this precedent that if you own a company and believe strongly in your religious beliefs, that that simple fact allows you to deny equality to your employees.  That is just not right.  You are then in essence forcing your religious beliefs on that employee, when her religion may be completely different from that of you as the employer.  How did this even get to our Supreme Court?  We had decisions in 1968 and 1986 that completely said that employers could not force their religion on their employees, yet here we are in 2014 doing exactly that!  And this Supreme Court has seen fit to confer more and more power and privilege to the already powerful and privileged corporations, and take away the power of the American people to make their own adult decisions.

Our country is fragmented by skewed political beliefs.  Half of us believe in equality, and the other half is jaded (again in my opinion) by the religious and political right that seems to command every corporation in America with some of the most archaic beliefs going.  Corporations have more power than the people.

Our forefathers worried that this would happen.  They worried and debated, what if a few powerful individuals and corporations seized control of the country’s politics and economy and ruled over the people; against the will of the people.  Our Supreme Court was set up to stop things like this from happening.  They were to weigh issues and look at things in the light of what is best, fair and equitable for the people of the United States.  Yesterday they dropped that ball completely and ruled in favor of Corporate America, in favor of religious suppression and against all women in the USA.

Their decision will not only affect the women though, they may not realize that family planning and contraception affect the men involved as well.  If he doesn’t want to wear a condom, or have a vasectomy (against most religious beliefs also, but still covered by insurance) then he is just as responsible as the woman involved in making sure she doesn’t become pregnant with a child they cannot or do not wish to care for, raise, nurture, support, and set off into this world one day.  A decision to use contraception, for medical reasons or reasons of birth control should be up to the woman and her doctor.  These medicines are not only approved by the FDA but the former assistant commisioner of the FDA, Susan Wood, said “…these medicines’s only connection with abortion is that they prevent the need for one.”  although religious zealots see them as abortion pills, not as medicines used to prevent pregnancy.

(On a side note here please remember Hobby Lobby’s 401K plan still invests in manufacturers who make these medicines and companies that make and use drugs in medical abortions.  What hypocrites!!!)

Yesterday women as a whole joined the LGBT community in it’s 2nd class citizenship here in the US.  Women are no longer in charge of their own personal decisions in their own personal reproductive health, it’s now governed by a SCOTUS decision that will reach far and wide across America, affecting employment, insurance benefits, family planning, and equal treatment of women in all arenas.  SCOTUS said basically if an employer has a religion and you work for them, you are working under the conditional religious belief of the employer.  I ask, how can a “company” or “corporation” have an assigned religion if they are in the for-profit sector of the US economy???  Under this ruling corporations could cite (genuinely or disengenuously) “religious exemption” in refusing to serve gay clients, or denying health coverage to a multi-racial child of an employee…just for starters!

I wonder if stoning in the streets is the next protected religious ‘right’?  Hell, if the company you work for believes that their religion condones death by stoning, then watch out…YOU could be next to go!

I am of the very firm belief in the separation of church and state.  It pisses me off that even our money says “In God We Trust”.  I believe that religion has no place in politics or in government.  If you wish to live in a religious state, then ISIS is forming a new Caliphite in the middle east right now, run right over and join up!  There you will be able to live under all of the religious oppression that you can handle – probably more than you can handle!

I don’t believe that anyone’s belief in God, Muhammad, Allah or whoever you worship has any place in making laws or governing people in any country.  Religion should be protected, yes, your right to practice it and hold it dear should be a right that you have in your home, so long as you are not harming any other person or thing.  The scriptures that guide each religious belief were written in another time, long long ago and many of the beliefs are out-dated and archaic in today’s world.  Today we have things like equality, the right to life, the right to the pursuit of happiness, and the right to freedom of speech. All of which are against many Bibical writings.  Especially if you are a woman.

Now I am no political pundit, nor am I overly religious or knowledgeable about Bibical lore, but I know the basics, and I know that religion and politics have no business being mixed…pardon the pun.

What we need here in the US is total equality of all citizens.  Women, Men, no matter what color, shape, size, sexual orientation, gender presentation, or religious belief, we all need to be treated with full equality.  You would think that we had that kind of freedom and equality here to listen to the gossip of the world.  But let me assure you we do not. and yesterday’s Supreme Court decision is the prime example of how very screwed up we are as a country.  We need a new government.

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Social Media, Comments, Replies and the LGBT Community

Comments, Posts, Replies, etc….here, there and everywhere.  We post little tidbits, our daily experiences, incidents we have watched or participated in somewhere along the line, etc.  And directly under those posts, on every social platform website that I know of, is a place where readers can leave “comments” and generally “like” the post.  Notice there is never a “dislike” or thumbs down icon?  That baffles me.  I think all sites should go back to the 1-5 stars rating system for posts.  

Social media websites, in my understanding, are for us to communicate and talk to one another – right?  Don’t you think that’s what they are for?  .And if you do not care to hear the “comments” or feedback of other people who are reading your posts there is generally a way that you can either “hide” the comments so that ONLY YOU see them, or so that no one can make a comment or rate a post.  You can also make it so that comments must be “approved” before they show publicly on some social venues.

So, what am I driving at here?  Well, I do my posts to have conversations with people; to sometimes just see what others are doing for the day, what their opinion may be about something I posted, or to get other ideas about something that I did, said or that happened to me.  Often the comments are interesting and give me more fodder for thought.  Sometimes they are stupid and are left by trolls – I ignore or delete the troll comments.  Then there are the comment Gremlins, who just wait for you to post so they can send some negative, derogatory or belittling comments your way.  Guess it just makes them feel good.  But you won’t see the Gremlins posting anything of their own that would give you the idea that they are serious about blogging or putting their own experiences out there because they either don’t have the ability to express themselves well in writing or filming, or are personally afraid of their own Gremlins and can’t take the heat.

I always try to be respectful when posting a comment on someone’s post or blog.  I never post to harass anyone, or to school them, but just to put in my own two cents on whatever they had to share in their post, and perhaps to share MY experience with similar circumstances if they are telling us of an incident in their post.  The idea is to have a conversation…or so I believe.  And I also believe that comments are part of the conversation and do get other people to read the post, and the comments.  Which then gets them into the conversation too.  This makes the original post successful – it got us talking – sometimes about more difficult subjects even!  

Public comments aren’t always just for the original poster’s benefit of the sharing experience, but are for the following audience as well.  They got one idea in the post, and maybe other ideas and views in the follow up comments.

In my last blog I said that I had been holding back on my own writings and videos online because of my not wanting to deal with the negative commenters, gremlins, and outright haters.  That was me feeling vulnerable and allowing my fear to dictate my behavior. But as I said in that last blog I am no longer going to let those negative Nancys ruin my pleasure in writing and vlogging.  And I meant that.  

I personally commented on a Facebook post today which I thought was just contributing to a conversation by adding my different view of the topic and also telling of one of my experiences with that same topic’s longer term outcomes.  I did it out of just basically just simply commenting; never gave a thought to it being seen as negativity – which it  was in a way as I was messaged privately and told that she felt that I was schooling her —  which was definitely NOT in my thoughts or my intentions at all. I respect this particular person and do follow her work and enjoy it. I was merely trying to add to the conversation.   

Her removing my comment because she considered it to be me trying to “school her” just inspired – and compelled – me to write this blog.  Again I will say, my intention was NOT to school her about the topic, but to relate to her MY experience with another side of the topic.  

The poster did direct message me afterwards and explain that she removed the comment because it pertained to something that she had “already addressed” in previous posts.  And I appreciated her further explanation, and the very nice conversation that we had.  She’s a good egg, and an important part of the community in my opinion.  But let me dwell on the “already addressed” part of that for a minute because this is something that actually bugs me a little.  I have encountered this “I posted about it before” thing with a few people.  This is especially encountered on Youtube.  People are like, ” if you want to know what I said about blah blah blah I did a video in 2007  – go look it up!”  I think that’s a lazy ass answer from a vlogger to an interested viewer in my opinion.  And often, on Youtube, it’s said with some snide attitude to the viewers too…not cool at all.  

If a blogger or vlogger doesn’t want to repeat answering a question, or discussing a topic again, then when someone asks they should find the link to the previous piece done about it (if you keep a good index of your work this should be a no-brainer) and perhaps private or pulicly message or email the link(s) to the person inquiring and thank them for their interest in the work, for watching or reading and engaging in the conversation.  In my world, this is the polite and professional way to handle an inquiry for information or opinion on a topic that you may have previously addressed, maybe even in detail, in any previous post whether it be in a written blog or in a Youtube or Vimeo video that you may have done.  

This is also the poster’s opportunity to ask the interested party to also make a comment or do some writing or filming themselves about the topic after they see the poster’s work done on it.  This does a couple of things…it keeps important conversations going, and it inspires more thought all around, it can be the catalyst to get a new person blogging or vlogging, it can also lead to the original post/blog being seen by more people (which is always good) and it can spark new, shoot-off conversations and topics.  

ALL of these things are very important to us in the blogging world.  A good blogger wants to build their audience continuously, and wants to be the flame that starts the fire of good conversation; start the discussion which leads to more good things, like change, making more people aware of the different sides of a topic, and the ultimate of changing someone’s mind – making an ally out of former opposition.  And all of this helps us build community and supports change and growth of individuals and even groups.  

I am all about building more closely knit LGBT community.  I live in a place where it’s more difficult to interact with other LGBT people on any kind of a regular basis – rural America.  There are millions of us living this way, out here in rural or suburban areas where it’s just more difficult to have much of a localized community of LGBT people and allies.  It’s always been more difficult for us living outside of the city life.  So blogging and social media are generally my daily chance to interact with my peoples!  I very much enjoy having conversations, being part of discussions, and knowing that I am not alone in the world with my thoughts.  

My girlfriend and I have to really plan to get out to see other Lesbians when the mood hits us.  Occasionally the local Gay men’s club will put on a Saturday afternoon “Tea Dance” for women only, which is really nice of them, as they do understand that the women seeking the company of other women in our area are without our own club.  There are “meet-ups” but they are mostly down towards Boston, and that means at least an hour’s commute each way.  There is a local meet up that was started in February, but I just got an email notice that it needs a new leader within the next 7 days or it will be taken down from the meet up board – of course it will, they want someone to pay the monthly fee charged for having a Meet-Up page.  I am considering saving the group, but haven’t quite made up my mind.  The other leader quit fairly quickly for some reason, makes me wonder why.  And I tried to contact her but she’s removed her email from the account so I couldn’t even do that.  

So, social media is our friend.  And the internet brings us the news of the LGBT community – nationwide and worldwide, which is good.  We both have our blogs, and we will continue to write because it’s something that we both love to do anyway.  We will be attending Pride events in Portland Maine and possibly in Boston Massachusetts, which are both about an hour from us in opposite directions, in June.  I’m sure I will post video accounts of both events when we go!  In the meantime, I hope to encourage everyone to blog, write, reach out and connect with each other and continue to build community around yourself, the support is needed by everyone in some way or another.  And remember to listen to and mentor those young LGBT people in your life, even in your online connections, and remember to reach out when you need it too!  The community is there, we just need to tighten it up a little!!!Image

As I always say “Rock on!”  ~MainelyButch