Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Many thanks to Stephanie Fairyington, a talented writer who pointed out these two pieces that she penned: the first one is at The Progressive, and is about how she is reluctant to marry her girlfriend of three years even though gay marriage is legal in their home state of New York. I am curious if any of you have been with long-time partners who have chosen not to tie the knot? Please do discuss!

The second story is at The Atlantic and also deals with relationships, although this one questions whether romances are really mutual. Again, a good read.

Our fearless executive director at wrote a poignant piece for the Huffington Post about the controversy around contraceptives today and the history of birth control in this country in general. Also at MomsRising: I just put together my first blog carnival — this one for Black History Month. I am so proud of the stories we are featuring — everything from the personal to the political. I’d appreciate it if you hit that “like” button on the blog carnival itself or any of the posts and shared with your loved ones. Thanks!

Affirmative action is in the news (again), this time, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case having to do with the University of Texas. Just to show you how structural racism is, I am wondering where is the outrage and Supreme Court hearing regarding legacy systems, brownie points for knowing the guy who donated to the school library and other boosts in the admissions process?

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I couldn’t stop thinking about Whitney Houston’s death this weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, I loved her songs since I was a kid. Here is a couple new developments surrounding her death, according to the New York Daily News: it appears that she drowned in her bathtub in a drug-induced haze. Also, her daughter Bobbi Christina was rushed to the hospital after learning of her mother’s death. What a sad story all around.  

In non-Whitney news: Mitt Romney won the Maine Republican caucuses, and once again, failed to garner even half of the votes, according to the Washington Post.

Washington state legalized gay marriage. I was especially moved by this Republican legislator’s testimony.

As I have mentioned here before, one of my concerns of running outdoors by the freeway is inhaling too much air pollution. In a timely article, Moms Clean Air Force had a guest post with advice on how to avoid high levels of air pollution while running outside.

In “water is wet” news: here is yet another article on how spanking increases aggression in children.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

As of last night, 11 p.m. local time/8 p.m. Cali time, the winner of last night’s GOP primary in New Hampshire was Mitt Romney (38%), followed by Ron Paul (23%) and Jon Huntsman (17%). I expect a lot of dropouts in the next few days. Here are the polls and details at our brother site Daily Kos.

Speaking of politics, when will we catch up to Jamaica? Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female prime minister, was just sworn in for her second term. Check out her bad-ass response to homophobia on the island.

In related news, I teared up reading this personal account by a legislator and son of a gay man who has endorsed a gay marriage bill in Washington state.

MSN Health ran a fascinating study on how people who live 110 years or longer have as many disease-associated genes as people in the general population, but they may also have protective genes that help them live longer.

Liz Cerezo over at the Thoughts of a Mommy blog wrote a thoughtful and honest account about parenting a teenage boy.

The Boston Globe ran a wonderful essay about raising teenagers with autism.

BlogHer published another provocative piece, this one proposed an expiration date on marriage to prevent snarling the courts with divorce cases. She suggested having a mechanism where married couples can choose to renew their marital vows — er contract — online. What do you think?

Mother Jones magazine included a round-up of tidbits from a biography about the Obamas. I couldn’t put it down!

Finally, here is a little humor on this lovely hump day courtesy of the Huffington Post. Like this author and illustrator, I hardly drank any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks prior to becoming a mother. Now? There are days I just can’t get by without them! :)

Thanks for the tip, Hilary!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

A mother’s love is fierce: Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act, which according to the Miami Herald, “would pave the way to make gay marriage legal within all 50 states by acknowledging that government should not define a couple by their sexual orientation.” The news story, which is worth a read, states that Ros-Lehtinen’s pro-gay marriage stance has stemmed from her parenting and accepting her transgender child. Good for her.

Follow the money: We really need to get the money out of politics. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and twenty of her fellow senators just introduced a bill that would prevent regulation of airborne toxins. As Think Progress pointed out, all of them have received campaign contributions from polluters. Blech.

My guess is that all that money spent on fighting health insurance reform was passed onto customers. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that annual premiums for family coverage jumped 9 percent this year compared to 2010 when they were raised by “only” 3 percent, according to the Associated Press. I once sparred with someone who I suspect worked for the health insurance industry who told me that the hundreds of millions of dollars in action taken against President Obama’s healthcare reform bill only came to $1 a customer. Yeah right.

Girl Power? Okay, I am just going to come out and say it. Thank God I am not a woman in Saudi Arabia. The king there just gave women the right to vote — in 2015 — and the driving ban is still in place. Here is a Washington Post article on it.

Trend Watch: Also in the Washington Post: Pet euthanasia at home is becoming a trend. Basically, the vet goes to the house as opposed to having human companions bring pets to the vet.

From BlogHer: “Another Jennifer” doled out tips on how to travel without children. Almost all the parenting articles have “don’ts” and “to-dos” for parents traveling with kids so I thought this was interesting.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Happy hump day all! I am going to see a free advanced screening of The Help tomorrow. Can’t wait!

In other good news: I am easing my way into full-time work. Yes, I now have a MomsRising e-mail address: elisa at momsrising dot org. It’s a promotion — so it’s a good thing! In the meantime, DH has had to up his home contributions, including occasionally folding laundry, loading the dishwasher and even picking up the kids from camp. Up to this point, I have done all drop-offs and pick-ups, all food shopping and cooking, and most everyday chores, including the laundry, dishes, and packing lunches for school.

That said, DH is hardly a slacker. He works more than full-time and his domestic contributions have always included helping the kids clean their rooms and put them to bed at night, as well as long-term projects like home repairs, taking out the trash and yard work. We both do a lot. That’s why I feel for these women who are doing it all, including receiving no downtime. What is up with that? What is the division of labor in your household?

First order of business: the week of August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week and MomsRising is having a Breastfeeding Arts-Blog-a-thon, which I am inviting all of you to participate:

WHAT: Blog-a-thon on breastfeeding including posts that identify specific ways employers, businesses, policymakers, physicians, hospitals, midwives, doulas, faith leaders and family members and moms themselves can support nursing mothers. In particular, we seek to highlight ways to support mothers who face cultural and economic barriers to breastfeeding. We welcome personal stories, policy analysis, video blogs, poems, or songs!  

WHY: Too few women are able to breastfeed for the minimum year recommended by doctors and experts. While 74% of U.S. women breastfeed their infants at birth, only 12% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months. On average, rates of breastfeeding drop even lower for young and low-income mothers.  The Surgeon General’s 2011 “Call to Action” on Breastfeeding outlines action steps that every sector of our society can take to better support nursing mothers for the benefit of our children, mothers and all.  

WHEN: Submit by Tuesday, August 2nd at 5 p.m. PDT

HOW: Email your blogpost and any questions to anita at momsrising dot org. Feel free to CC me at elisa at momsrising dot org. (I love saying that! :)

Many thanks to Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy for writing a piece about Amy Winehouse and manic depression — which sufferers often treat with alcohol and drug abuse. It will be a good day in this country when mental illness is treated like any other illness and allocated the right amount of resources.

Our Dana over at Mombian wrote about how same-sex parents are among the first to marry in New York. Congratulations to the happy families!

In not so good news: I admit, I have not been following all the statements and controversies surrounding the GOP candidates for president in 2012. But I was disturbed by this Slate article about the number of teenagers in Michele Bachmann’s district who have committed suicide after being bullied for their perceived homosexuality. Bachmann has vehemently opposed both LGBT rights as well as anti-bullying legislation.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The Daily Show interviewed EPA Secretary Lisa Jackson about the Republican Party wanting to dismantle the agency as well as the importance of regulating mercury, which would save thousands of lives. If you’d like to reach the EPA directly about the proposed mercury rules, here is the link.

At a time when a clear majority of Americans support gay marriage, some state legislatures are insisting on holding onto short-sighted and antiquated ideas. Take, for instance, Tennessee, in which the Senate just passed a bill that would prevent teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade from discussing homosexuality in prepared materials or instruction, according to Slate. Well, I am sure there are gay people in Tennessee, many of them parents, so good luck with that one Tennessee.

The Thoughts of a Mommy blog ran a review and clips from Kung Fu Panda 2, which hits theaters this Thursday.

Sujeiry Gonzalez over at the 1st Lady of Love blog wrote about how unprotected sex — and STDs — are on the rise. I thought this article was important for conservative, Latino, or any community, in which parents do not speak to their children about sex. It’s scary out there and knowledge is power.  

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


Teaching LGBT Rights in Schools

First, the good news: for the first time in a decade since the question has been polled, a clear majority of Americans now support gay marriage, according to an ABC News/Washington Post survey. Many traditional news outlets and blogs published survey results, including the Talking Points Memo.

And in spite of the church’s leadership, even more Catholics than the general public support gay marriage! according to other studies published by the Washington Post.

But if there is one unresolved battle over LGBT rights brewing, it’s in the classroom. During the hoopla surrounding Proposition 8 in California, all the scary commercials about gay people had to do with them teaching our children, or somehow making them gay in the classroom. Even though the teachers unions and educators throughout the state went on TV to dispute these claims, the original negative ads were impressionable enough to scare some parents into voting for the ballot initiative.

And these battles continue now that one of our state senators, Mark Leno, introduced a bill that would require all of California’s history textbooks to include figures and events in gay history, and portray them “in a positive light.” From the New York Times:

Despite its reputation as a bastion of gay-friendliness — or perhaps because of it — the Bay Area has emerged as a focal point in the gay education debate. In Alameda, a group of parents sued the school district in 2009 after discovering that their children were reading “And Tango Makes Three“ — a book about two male penguins raising a young penguin — as a part of a pro-tolerance lesson. District officials said they introduced the lesson after grade-school children were heard using gay slurs in the hallways.

The San Francisco Unified School District has what some consider the most gay-friendly curriculum in the country, publishing general guidelines to help teachers teach words like “gay“ and “heterosexual,“ beginning in kindergarten. But beyond the general guidelines, there can often be distinctly different approaches from school to school.

Jenn Bowman, a world history teacher at Mission High School, said colleagues at her former school, Roosevelt Middle School, questioned whether it was appropriate for her to let her students know she is gay.

This is the thing. Would it be appropriate for an heterosexual teacher to admit that he or she is married? Maybe we should make married teachers leave their wedding rings at home to ensure there is zero discussion about marriage in the classroom. Ridiculous.

I’ve said this before, but I really think this fear is falling by the wayside as the children of gays and lesbians are raised alongside the children of heterosexual couples. I look at kids like my 7-year-old son, who by the way, did read and love the book And Tango Makes Three in kindergarten, who have many friends from two-mom and two-dad families. It isn’t unusual for him, and I have a hunch that one day in retrospect he is going to wonder why this was ever an explosive political debate.

As for the indoctrination claim, again, ridiculous. I think it’s fair to say that most gays and lesbians were raised by heterosexual couples, were surrounded by straight couples, yet are still gay. Clearly, sexual orientation isn’t something that is “taught”.

Nonetheless, IMHO, it is one of the big issues of our time. What do you all think? Is it possible to reason with people who are afraid of gay people or gay themes in schools?


Healthcare Reform, “Killing Babies,” and Belated Election News

We are still licking our wounds in the Daily Kos household. We expected it, but I, personally, have been racking my brain on how to reason with well-meaning folks on a few things.

For example, I do know people who voted Republican because of gay marriage and abortion. Never mind they in no way benefit economically from the Republican Party platform, and all have benefited from lots of government services like unemployment, medicare and special education in public schools. But they voted on social issues because that’s what they feel that they have control over.

Then, I am not sure what to make of these news stories:

According to the Wall Street Journal, small businesses have begun offering health insurance to their employees thanks to tax credits awarded by President Obama’s healthcare reform bill. Yet, a majority of small businesses oppose the legislation.

A father in Minnesota wrote a diary for Daily Kos asking for help on how to explain abortion and abortion-related politics to his 9-year-old. She was told by a friend in school that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate wanted to “kill babies.”

Never mind the fact that a state governor has little to do with US Supreme Court decisions. Never mind the debate on when a fertilized egg cell becomes a baby. Never mind the revulsion at carrying your rapist’s baby to term. Because no matter what your view is on any of those things, why would you plant that image in your 9-year-old daughter’s head? What the f!*k was she thinking?

Part of me wants to end my daughter’s relationship with this girl, part of me wants to wring this woman’s neck, but most of me just wants to know how the hell we got here, and what, if anything, could ever possibly make this woman learn restraint.

The first comment to the post was, “You can just explain to children that some people believe crazy and unreasonable things. Then show them something about the Salem witch trials.”

But this seems too simplistic to me. From my perspective these fundies who burned witches in the 1600s have a lot of power. It seems like we should talk to them, but how?

Of course, we must keep in mind that many people also don’t bother to vote, which is a separate rant. What would the electorate look like if they did? How do we engage these folks?

I know this is just random rambling and ranting. What say you to any of this?


Prop 8 and Other Questions Regarding Equality

First of all, I love this:

Ever since the California court struck down Proposition 8, I keep seeing all kinds of questions regarding marital equality, such as this one in the Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax column:

Arlington, VA: I work as a peer mentor at a small nonprofit. Which doesn’t make me any kind of licensed counselor, but it does mean that people let their guard down and I hear some things from them that they’d never say in polite company.

Because of the rather virulent homophobia of one person I help, and the likely homophobia of many others, I have chosen not to keep a photo of my partner on my desk. This saddens me, but so it goes.

But lately with all this Prop 8 stuff in the news, I keep thinking about what would/should happen should she and I ever be able to get legally married, which I think I might like to do. What would I do about my ring? Put it on after work, when I get home? Wear it and tell them point blank my wife’s name is Susan? Wear it and wave away any questions about my personal life?

Carolyn Hax: As someone in a listening profession, you probably want to wave away questions about your personal life anyway, sexual orientation notwithstanding. You aren’t friends; their sharing of their personal stuff is a business transaction.

Regardless of your profession, I would say to share (or not share) as much information about your personal life as you would if you were hetero. You wouldn’t say, “I’m married to a man, and his name is John”–you’d just refer to “my husband,” or say, “John and I ….” And, because of your profession, I would advise setting that orientation-neutral bar very, very high–say and display little to nothing about your life outside of work.

This situation is more sticky, and Arlington felt the need to explain:

Arlington again: I’m not quite a social worker, but yes, people do reveal some very personal stuff, and I think Carolyn’s spot on with the neutrality point. That’s something we have to carefully cultivate, and why I asked.

I wouldn’t volunteer information about my life or relationship, so I was wondering about how to deal with someone seeing a ring and asking questions like “What’s your husband’s name?” when a person who might really not like “My wife’s name is Susan” is someone I am supposed to be serving.

If I weren’t in a listening profession, I could say “My wife’s name is Susan” and give someone who went “Whoa” or “Uh… oh… Sorry, but um, I feel kind of uneasy around you now, sorrysorrysorry!” the Glower of Doom. In the profession I am in, “My wife’s name is Susan” could poison the trust someone has for me, if that person is prejudiced and didn’t realize I’m gay.

So the question was, in essence, “Wear it and hope that never happens, or leave it at home?”

Carolyn Hax: There are ways to deflect, if you’d like to do that: “Oh, we’re not here to talk about me,” or some such.

But I would argue for a simple statement of fact, after which you move on: “Her name is Susan. So, have you tried those strategies we talked about last time?”

There may be all kinds of political noise surrounding gay marriage, but that doesn’t change the fact that gay couples have been mainstream so long in so many places that they’re almost whateverstream at this point. Going far out of your way to conceal your marital reality–hiding the ring, deflecting questions, etc.–would almost be a disservice to the people you’re counseling.

Yes, they may have these deeply held and rarely spoken prejudices, but that doesn’t change the fact of who you are, and the fact of who so many people are who play supporting roles in their lives. The surgeon, the tailor, the guy leading the training seminars on the new computer system, anybody, right? So, show them you aren’t judging them based on who you married, and indicate by example that they’re welcome to do the same.

Someone else cued that s/he has never been asked for a spouse’s name even though s/he is wearing a wedding ring. Now that I think of it, I too, have never been asked for my husband’s name, at least not since I met him and loved ones were the ones doing the asking. It may very well be a non-issue.

What do you all think? To tell or not to tell?


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Good news: the Senate voted 60-40, pretty much along party lines, to extend jobless benefits to millions of people unemployed for more than six months, according to the Washington Post. Also, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted, pretty much along party lines, to send Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, according to the Washington Post. If she gains the approval of the Senate as she is expected to do, Kagan will become the 4th woman nominated to the highest court of the land.  

Have a healthcare question for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS), Kathleen Sebelius? You may post it at the MomsRising website.

The Texas Tribune ran an article on how fewer Mexican students are applying to border universities like the University of Texas in El Paso in favor of colleges further north like the University of Texas in Austin.

E-book sales are already outnumbering hardback book sales at Amazon, according to the New York Times. Also in the New York Times: small businesses are turning to health insurance plans with fewer doctors to choose from as a way to cut costs.  

The Momologie newsletter offered these natural remedies to remove stains from clothes:

• Hydrogen peroxide based products and non-chlorine bleach can help keep things really white without the noxious fumes. We also love Borax for keeping whites, white.
• Drying out in the sun has a wonderful bleaching effect on clothes. Boost the results by adding lemon juice to the rinse cycle.
• If you have hard water, which can yellow your clothes, add vinegar to your rinse water.

What other tricks do you have up your sleeve?

Non-Toxic Kids ran a guest post on how to keep your baby safe in the summer heat. In case you missed it, Kellogg’s had a massive cereal recall, including 28 million boxes of Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks, for a petroleum-based compound in the packaging. Katy Farber, editor of Non-Toxic Kids, has the details.  

Finally, congrats to Argentina for becoming the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, according to the Huffington Post.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?