Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vote No, Twice.

In the state of Minnesota, there are currently two items up for a citizen majority vote.  I believe, along with, what seems to me to be a fairly bipartisan crowd, that these two issues are irrelevant to the real needs of the people of our state. 

I think these two amendments to our Constitution are superfluous, expensive and completely unnecessary.  They make me wonder what IS being passed through while all of us are worrying ourselves sick about the questions these amendments bring up? 

But then, I'm cynical.  And a bit of a curmudgeon.  With lots of opinions.  Most of which make sense.  And they follow below.

The first is the Minnesota Marriage Amendment:

A Minnesota Same-Sex Marriage Amendment, Amendment 1, will appear on the November 6, 2012 ballot in Minnesota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.[1] The measure would define marriage in the Minnesota Constitution as between one man and one woman in the state.[2]

Unlike previous, unsuccessful attempts to place a marriage amendment on the ballot, the 2012 measure may leave open the possibility of same-sex civil unions.[3]

And the second item is to require photo identification at voting polls.

The question to be presented to the voters is as follows:[4]
Photo Identification Required for Voting.

"Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to require all voters to present valid photo identification to vote and to require the state to provide free identification to eligible voters, effective July 1, 2013?"
  • YES
  • NO

Constitutional Changes

The proposed amendment would amend Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. [5]


While I wholeheartedly support the ability of citizens to choose the laws of their society.  These two issues or items are NOT changes to laws of our society (like how it is illegal to text while driving), but an alteration of the State Constitution. Laws and Constitution are similar in some ways, but overall, quite different.

The fundamental law, written or unwritten, that establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform; by describing the organization of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers.

Our state's constitution reads as follows (a timely and time consuming read, for sure):

or in a more original version, you can find the Republican Version and the Democratic Version at these two links.

Republican Version:

Democratic Version:

Who knew our state has political parties that couldn't agree even way back then?  (Sad, in my mind, but whatevs).

Okay, so in all honesty, I skimmed these.  Who really cares about all the legal jargon from the 1850's slapped around in these documents?  But I can find, easily, solid evidence in both versions that the State Constitution was never intended to deny the rights of one group.   Like the quote below, for instance.

taken from the Bill of Rights: Republican Version: Sec 16 The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not be construed to deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed, nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any religeous or ecclesiastical ministry against his consent, nor shall any control of, or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship, but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the State. Nor shall any money be drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any religious societies, or religious or Theological Seminaries.

So is marriage a legal term?  Not really.  A more proper legal term for what we generally consider "marriage" would be civil union.  But whatever the term you want to use, marriage is

Definition of MARRIAGE (by Merriam-Webster)

a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage marriage
Please recognize that within the definition is the phrase "a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law". 

I think this is a legal agreement between two consenting adults.  I think this union provides a legal security for both adults in so far as creating a recognized bond - allowing them to share resources, rely on each other through illness and take legally bonding responsibility for the other.  Something most straight married couples don't even think too much about, 'cuz it's just "marriage" and doesn't have to be redefined.  

Okay, so you might not agree with me that God created all of us, and within that term "all of us" is the equally lovely and horrible group who are homosexual.  We may even be far apart in the belief that, through God's creation of us, homosexuality is not a sin.  Our nation is a great one that allows each of us to believe whatever religion, cult,  spirit guide, or none of the above that we wish.  Our laws are not legitimized through religious texts. 

Feel free to follow the rules and regulations of your religious beliefs.  But please keep your religion out of state law, especially the Consti-frickin-tution.  The Constitution was & is designed as a framework for governing a society.  NOT for denying rights to a segment of society.  Laws can be struck down.  Constitutions need to be amended.  Amended like saying,' Oops, sorry we said all that before, now we need to change that a bit.'  You can't erase an amendment, just amend the things that a previous amendment did.  Seems kinda dumb.

Oh, and our current laws already deny the legal marriage between two consenting adults of the same gender.  So why all the hoopla about this now?  An amendment wouldn't change anything.  Either way, we still don't have same-sex marriage in Minnesota.  The amendment, as it reads currently, is NOT a way to choose to have that.  So we are all spending loads of time and money to combat or support something that is, from it's inception, completely unnecessary.  Glad to know we were dupped. 

Issue #2:  On the issue of Voter Identification.   

Within our state's Bill of Rights, the preamble to our state's constitution that 

17      No religious test or amount of property shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust under the state. No religious test or amount of property shall ever be required as a qualification of any voter at any election in this State; nor shall any person be rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity in consequence of his opinion upon the subject of religion.

No amount of property shall ever be required as a qualification of any voter at any election in this State.  How is this an issue?  Well, it seems that some would have you believe that there is a serious problem of voter fraud.  This is mere speculation and grandstanding on the idea that fear is the most motivating force possible.  

From the League of Women Voters, which I have found to be a very balanced, non-politically motivated group, has said:

Voter fraud is rampant in our elections, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the winner.
Fact: Actual cases of fraud are rare. There have been many investigations, but few cases have been substantiated. Then-Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer reported that only 14 people out of approximately 2,800,000 voters fraudulently cast ballots during the 2004 election in Minnesota– a fraud rate of .0005 percent. 

 So again, we don't have a problem, and everyone is all up in arms that we need to spend millions (of state money, NOT already considering the millions tied up in the support or combat against this issue in public opinion/propaganda) to save ourselves from our own stupidity.  True, voter fraud is an issue with felons.  Yup.  So design state issued identification that lists if they are a felon or not.  Problem solved and we can all move on. 

 I say Vote No Twice.  And move on.  Speak to your neighbors again.  Call your relatives who disagree with you.  Make nice again.  (I'll try.)  And keep asking questions...

Like, what are all those politicians working on while we are all worrying ourselves sick about all this?  (Not to mention, driving each other crazy with insults, name-calling and across-the-board nincompoopery.  Myself included.)  That is what I want to know.  So that will be my next post. 

What are all those politicians up to when we aren't looking (because we're all so tied up in the commercial attack ads and fighting about the two unnecessary amendments) ??


Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrating Love

These are two young ladies who amaze me daily.  The older is my niece, and the younger is my daughter.  Each is so different, yet both are so strong, loving and creative.  And I love each of them so very deeply. 

Girls scare me.  I love being a woman myself, but I'm not really girly.  I don't have a great relationship with my own mother, and I have honest fears that I will not be a good mother to my daughter.  But then, I have so much stuff to "not do" with a daughter, I am pretty sure I can do a decent job. 

My brother, this lovely lady's dad, is down-deep a great person.  He's very intelligent, creative and likes to work hard... at times.  On the flip side, he's an alcoholic (recovering at times and not at others) and often gets wrapped up in his own stuff.  I know that his daughter is dealing with lots of issues with her dad, and I'm really having a hard time getting over the feeling that I would like to kick his butt.  She's such an amazing person - which isn't a reason why I think her dad should treat her better (heck, he should treat himself better so he could be a better dad, but that's another rant...) - but she really is.  "J" is so smart, creative, social, caring, honest, sensitive, loving... and she is so amazingly strong. 

If you are a parent, do you ever get that "Momma Bear" feeling?  That "don't mess with MY child or I will cut you" kind of reaction?  I know that "J" has a mother who loves her dearly, as well as so many aunts, grandparents, cousins, and friends.  All there to support her and take care of her.  But it's all so complicated when someone you love is doing something shitty to someone you love and want to care for and protect. 

I'm not sure what to do next, other than make more of a presence in "J"'s life.  I don't know that it would do any good to kick my brother's ass.  Other than make me feel a bit better for about five minutes.  I guess one positive thing I can do is add a bit more driving into my life and make "J" a priority in my life.  And then, I get the bonus of getting to know her better, and hoping for a closer relationship.  Nothing bad in any of that.  Maybe it's one of those things that kids do: when only a few kids are together, they don't really care what the other is up to.  When lots of kids are interested in what one kid is doing, that one kid seems so much more exciting.  I can only hope her dad realizes someday soon just how interested I am in this girl, how so many people are interested in this girl, and how much he is missing. 

So this Valentine's Day, I will celebrate the love I have for these girls.  Celebrate how lucky my daughter is to have a dad who loves her like crazy and will always be there for her.  And how lucky everyone in my family is to have this phenomenal teenager as part of our nutty bunch.  And I will keep all the rest in my prayers that someone who has handled this stuff for a millenia can take over what I can't figure out.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why is choice important? still thinking...

I've been wondering about why I get so nuts when I hear about anti-choice legislation & talk.  I think I've figured it out pretty well. 

Why is Choice important?

Well, first, I think that everyone's life is different.  Like the saying, "if everyone you knew put their problems in a pile and each was given the chance to choose someone else's, you'd see what others were dealing with and pick up your own problems again."  For the most part, I think people try to do their best with their lives.  Trying harder in some areas over others, of course.  I know there have been times in my own life when I have made choices that were the best at the time, but that I wouldn't make if the same thing happened to me today. But how can I judge my past self harshly?  Can't and won't.  So I won't judge another life harshly either.  Do your best and I'm okay with you.  (Don't do your best and I'm all up in your face, just makin' that clear.)

Second, I think that the status of women and the societal support of women have been declining lately.  I can't put an exact moment when I started feeling like this (again) but I just have.  Maybe it's come up with all the crap that's happening with politics - everyone in the GOP doing their macho 'hoo-rah' mating dance for the nation and all the politicos nit-picking every inflection, mistake and position they make.  Guh.  All the grandstanding about how conservative a person is - saying that they think the Bible should determine the laws of our land (and that being the Old Testament or the Torah).  And along with all that, a push to remove the laws (or support laws that deny rights) that allow men and women to make many personal choices about what their family will look like.  Maybe it's the shift in the economy where so many able bodied, educated men are out of gainful employment.  Who knows.  Maybe it's just me being the age and stage I am at in life.  But I don't think it's just that simple.

Now I've been a feminist for as long as I can remember.  I grew up with an older brother, whom I love very much, but who made it very clear to me that being a girl/woman was a "less-than" quality.  My wonderful grandparents had very distinctive ideas (and ideaLs) for what girls should do or be.  My own amazing dad was great to talk the talk about supporting women, but did very little toward walking that walk.  (Okay, he has always supported me as my chearleader.  So that's awesome.  But ask him how many diapers he's changed in his life or what a schedule for a child's day might look like, or how things went the last time he babysat my kids, and he'd have to get back to you while he checked on that.)  When I was a child, people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  They were always so sweet to me when I told them I wanted to be a Mom and a teacher (both of which I am today).  When my mom asked me, I remember her giving an audible sigh of defeat, and her saying, "You know you could do ANYTHING right?"  My mom wasn't/isn't always the kind of mom I wanted, but she's a great feminist educator.  :) 

Third, I find it really disconcerting that there is both a push to "limit government" (a Republican platform) AND a push to limit personal freedoms.  I don't think it's possible to have both.  You either limit the role the government plays in a citizen's daily life, or your are thinking that a corporation counts as a 'citizen' and then we all understand where your 'family values' are coming from, thank-you-very-much.  Figure out how to REALLY balance the budget, limit threats to our nation's natural resources, work on developing strong and vibrant pre-elementary education and family/community bonds to keep almost grown kids out of prisons, work with other nations to encourage and support peace, and limit yourselves in your ridiculous paychecks - why the incredible interest in procreation? 

Parenthood should only be asked of those adults who really want to take on the challenge.  Parenthood is a twenty-four hour experience: imbalanced, frustrating, humbling, awe-inspiring, joyous, infuriating, boring, expensive, time-consuming, sleep-depriving, and mentally taxing.  Just like my own choice not to take up marathon running, I don't expect everyone I meet to think that being a parent is as incredible as I do.

On a financial front - kids are expensive.  Just the simple acts of feeding, clothing and caring for a child takes big chunk of change out of the "fun time fund".  Not having any extra money causes a great deal of stress and strain.  And for society, raising a new generation of children is a huge expense.  Granted, on both fronts, a very lucrative investment, but also one with some real amounts of risk.  For people to say that a woman (or a couple) should always choose to carry a pregnancy full term, I say, mind your business.  I figure if a woman or a couple decides that today is not the day to take on that long-term marathon of parenthood, then I figure they've probably thought it out and are right. 

But for families who feel like every menstruation is an opportunity for a new life to join them, I celebrate your bravery.  I applaud your sense of adventure and sincere force of positivity.  You Go!!  I love that the Duggars are sharing their lives with the world.  I've got a husband, two kids, a messy house and two dogs that live to drive me nuts (but are so durn cute), and I would NEVER willingly invite a camera crew into my home at any point.  I don't watch the show, though I have seen parts of it, and I celebrate the families that are so large they need a school bus.  They've figured out how to feed, clothe, educate and love all of them - raising those kids to be as self-sufficient as their parents.  That is fantastic. 

But for either crowd, I've gotta say, the choice is yours.  Not mine.  But making sure our government is NOT a part of that choice, for anyone, that's MY CHOICE.  And I will never sit idly by and allow a group where the majority are privileged white men decide the fertility rights of the women in our nation.  I trust women, and I vote.  I hope you do, too.

and as an afterthought - i want people to ask questions and wonder.  here are some quotes and links about choice in America:

Not sure how unbiased this is, but it's worth a look -

“Let's never stop asking questions. Questions give us a harbor to remember where we once lived mentally. They remind us of the possibilities that can be born out of thoughts and musings, and they link together pattern that define our lives.” ...
“It's daring to be curious about the unknown, to dream big dreams, to live outside prescribed boxes, to take risks, and above all, daring to investigate the way we live until we discover the deepest treasured purpose of why we are here.”
Luci Swindoll, I Married Adventure

a letter to my high school boyfriend...

the title of my post is a loose translation in a way, since i don't know if anyone would have ever given the title of boyfriend/girlfriend to the relationship i had in high school.  this guy was a sweet guy, but we had almost zero chemistry.  which was pretty amazing since, at the time, i was ready to have some sort of chemistry with anyone.  but guy one was a good start. 

we hung out in the same social group, and since the girls to guys ratio worked out in our favor, and we thought the other person was interesting, i guess we started "dating".  i don't really know how he felt about me physically.  the only physical contact he had with me was giving me light punches in the upper arm.  they didn't hurt (hey, i've always been a feminist, and no matter the level of desperation, i would never have agreed to abuse) but i found them really annoying.  i told him so, but i guess he thought i was playing coy.  or maybe that was his slow, methodical try at foreplay.  not sure.  we never kissed, so his plan must have been REALLY REALLY slow. 

but i was in high school during the era of real notes.  on paper.  written while you were supposed to be paying attention to whatever the teacher was blathering on about.  (so being on the plastic honor roll doesn't impress you so much?  ah, well, sometimes the lessons of life take precedence.) 

this guy wrote the BEST notes.  for a girl who reads constantly; who seeks out spoken word & poetry; whose all time favorite movie is "Amelie" - this was an ultimate catch of a guy.  he would share what was going on in his home life.  what he was struggling with emotionally.  he cracked jokes.  he gave the sweetest compliments. he wrote to me e-v-e-r-y single day.

the only drawback, he didn't do the same in person. 

so we didn't last long as a 'couple' and he was a person with much more conviction than i and he left school (instead of just floating through till the end like i did).  so i only saw him one time after we 'broke up' and he seemed afraid to talk to me, so i didn't say anything either. 

so, for the record, guy one - thanks for showing me what it's like to have a guy move slowly (even if it was way too slowly).  thanks for the extravagant gift of the perfume (i still feel guilty giving you the box of crap i gave you.  forgive my sixteen-year-old stupid self.)  thanks for helping me understand what i really needed and wanted in a guy.  (i'm happy to say that i found all that stuff.  he doesn't write me the kind of notes you did all the time, but he does often enough.  he's kind of busy being the guy blathering on in the front of the class :)  he does a much better job with the rest of the relationship stuff though, and doesn't move quite as slow as you did.) 

every once in awhile, when i see someone from high school, or i catch my 15-second tolerance level of Glee, i think of you.  i wish you well.  i hope you are happy, and i hope you are sharing your life with someone who loves you back.  i hope you know that you were a gift to me.  you were a gentleman, which is a pretty tough thing to be in high school.  and a pretty amazing thing to be with someone who isn't sure she wants you to be. 


your girl number ?

Friday, January 20, 2012

f cancer

Right at this moment, I personally know three women who are dealing with the crapfest that is cancer.  All with different kinds, all with different treatments, all with different expectations for life beyond their diagnosis. 

This post is a response to the Breast Cancer 3-day commercials.  The people featured in them; I'm assuming actors performing the written text from the very helpful and supportive Susan G. Komen foundation; they repeat lines like "we will eradicate breast cancer, once and for all."  My response, No we won't.  We will better learn how to find cancer.  We will better learn how to treat it once it is found.  We will better learn how to deal with the diagnosis once it is given.  We will always, always, always have cancer in our lives. 

I have always had cancer in my family.  As a child in the late '70's or early '80's, my great-aunt died of breast cancer.  (I think that's what area the cancer was, since at that time, and in my family, we didn't talk about it.)  We talk about it now only briefly.  My grandparents both had colon cancer.  They both found it early on, and had treatment and surgery and finished out their long lives to die of other causes.  My aunt was diagnosed with a late stage cancer when she couldn't figure out why she felt so sick and wasn't getting any better.  She died in the hospital five days later. 

Especially in the U.S., we surround ourselves with so many chemicals that knowingly cause cancers that we no longer even think about it.  Pesticides, plastics, cleaning products, lotions, cosmetics, tanning beds, fabric protectants, exhaust, smog... these are just the things I can think of as I write this.  We seem to taunt cancer with how much bad crap is allowed to wash over us and into us. 

And even people who are working hard to keep these carcinogens away seem to be fighting a useless fight, since the laws that are on the books are surely not there to help them out.  I am currently burnt out on politics.  I can't contact even one more politician to share my hopes for what things should be passed or whatever.  Gah.  So many politicians are useless bags of flesh. 

So instead of supporting groups that prey on the hurt of loss and the desperate need for hope by presenting the message that cancer can be like polio - a faint memory, I am supporting a charity that promotes education. 

Fuck Cancer (or the cleaner name F Cancer) reverberates with my own reaction to all this fucking cancer.  If it was a person, my 5 foot 1 3/4 inch self would totally kick it's ass.  But because it is an incideous, hidden, cruel disease that robs entire sections of the population of it's innocence, I can only hope to become better educated and support organizations that also educate. 

I am awash daily with all kinds of crap that might just be feeding a tumor to kill me.  But if I find that shit early, I can work with medical magicians to kick it the hell out.  I want to know more.  I want to help more.  I want to have a good long time from today when I truly don't know any lovely, joyful, crass, aggressive, funny, insightful, strong, sweet, calm, magical women & men who have had that crapfest talk with the doctor telling them they have cancer. 

If you feel a similar distaste for this disease, please check out the website and decide if it's the place to share your funds.  Or just head over to learn more.  Knowledge is so nice.  Hopefully helpful too.