Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a very happy birthday to our resident mom of 7 tjb! (Her birthday is tomorrow.) You are an inspiration to all of us here at MotherTalkers. Thank you for shedding your light and wisdom!

There were elections last night. And as of 10 p.m. PT, Rick Santorum had crushed and swept Mitt Romney in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado, according to results at our brother site Daily Kos. Ouch for Romney.

Speaking of sanctimonious Rick, there are a few reproductive justice articles I want to highlight. The first one is this hilarious story at Jezebel about a pro-choice Democrat in Oklahoma amending a personhood bill to include protections for semen ejaculated anywhere outside a woman’s vagina. Needless to say, it failed as this would mean no masturbating, no wet dreaming or oral sex for men without being charged with harming an unborn child.

The office of Congressman John Fleming (R-LA) was called out for posting a satirical Onion story on Planned Parenthood as real news. The story, which was clearly fake, was about Planned Parenthood building an $8 billion “abortionplex” complete with coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater— “features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.” The article was taken down — after a screen shot of it was featured on Literally Unbelievable. ROFLMAO!

And in a glaring example of the giant disconnect between Catholic church leadership and parishioners on the ground, a poll found that U.S. Catholics are more supportive (58%) than the general public (55%) of having employers provide health insurance plans that offer birth control at no cost. This story was all over the place yesterday, including Daily Kos.

Marriage equality wins (again) in California! Here is a story on it at the Los Angeles Times.  

Speaking of family values, the Washington Post ran a powerful story on how African American women are more likely than other demographics to care for extended family in spite of great economic hardship. This reminded me of a story some years back about how African Americans were more likely to care for their parents in old age, and not likely to get any inheritance. Unfortunately, their generosity is punished in our backwards-ass economic system.

This article is in Spanish, but too fun not to share. Jeannette Kaplun over at TodoBebé wrote her top 10 favorite things to do at Disney World in Florida. She considered dining with the various characters, taking a ride on the Monorail, and riding on the Pirates of the Caribbean to be highlights. Disney World is so huge and crowded that it can be overwhelming. What are your and your children’s favorite things to do there?

I hate to end on a sad note, but I must mention that Susan Niebur, the 39-year-old mother who publicly and gracefully battled breast cancer, which she documented on her blog Toddler Planet, passed away on Monday. Here is a wonderful Washington Post story on her.

I remember seeing Susan at the Blogalicious conference back in October. She was wheeled in where, despite her physical state, she gave a rousing testimonial about battling cancer with six-year-old and four-year-old sons. She was a public advocate for more research to cure cancer.

Seriously. When are we gong to find a cure for this awful disease? May Susan’s family find solace after such a terrible loss.

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


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, a beautiful column at BlogHer about continuing Christmas traditions after mom and dad have passed away.

Also, I found this guide featured in Mombian to be helpful when discussing marriage equality with family members who are on the fence.

Remember Erika’s piece last year about the candidate for governor in Oklahoma who made an issue of her opponent not being a mother? Guess what she has done as Oklahoma’s governor? Issued an emergency decree eliminating birth as a “qualifying event” for individual health care coverage. That’s right. No coverage for births of any kind, including emergency c-sections. So much for family values!

Now that we have new mercury and air toxics standards rules, let’s see what can be done to help curb coal power plant emissions in China. This Daily Kos diary gives me hope.  

Hate to trot out the bad news after Christmas, but I have to say for the hundredth time here that Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio is a thug. After being found by the U.S. Department of Justice guilty of racial profiling and other gross infractions against the Latino community — including U.S. citizens! — a Latino Army veteran died after being tasered by his police, according to the Mason County Daily News. Why on earth do Arizonians keep voting for this guy who is costing them millions of dollars in lawsuits? Blech!

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


New Hampshire Queer Families Needed to Preserve Marriage Equality

Marriage equality in New Hampshire is under threat from the veto-proof Republican super-majority in the Legislature—a result of the November 2 elections. Keori, who blogs over at Pam’s House Blend, is working with New Hampshire Freedom to Marry and on how to meet this challenge.

She noted in an e-mail to me that, “Post-Prop 8 and Post-Question 1 studies showed that mothers with children are the swing voters who make the difference in ballot questions about marriage rights. Who will appeal to them most? Other mothers with children.” She is therefore seeking queer families in New Hampshire, especially lesbian families with children, who might want to help. (For reference, here’s my post on how the Prop 8 campaign neglected the voices of LGBT parents, to its detriment.)

If you live in New Hampshire and are interested in helping as the above groups prepare their strategies, please e-mail for further details. They’re planning a statewide meeting on November 28 for activists, bloggers, and stakeholders, and will be discussing messaging, among other things. Even if you can’t make it then (I know, it’s a holiday week and short notice), drop her a note and see how you might be able to contribute at another time.


Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

On Friday, the kids and I met with our local Target store manager to hand him a form provided by letting him know we would not shop at the store as long as Target donated to political campaigns — especially those with whom we virulently disagreed. About 20 of us showed up at the store. He met with us, shook our hands, let us vent away, and promised to present the forms to upper management.

To Target’s credit, it issued an apology and said it would set up a review process for future political donations, according to CBS News. It also had this to say about California’s Proposition 8 and marriage equality:

Target did not, nor has the company ever, knowingly donated to legislation or referendums that aim to undermine equality for all, including Proposition 8 in California. Further, Target’s support of the GLBT community is unwavering, and inclusiveness remains a core value of our company.

That said, I will not shop there until I learn of the outcome of its review process regarding political donations. Corporations are not people who should be allowed to funnel unlimited sums of money to buy elections. Publicly funded campaigns, anyone?

In case you missed it, a bill that is supposed to save nearly 140,000 teaching jobs and provide extra aid in healthcare for poor families during the recession, just passed 61-38 in the Senate, according to Moderate Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine voted for the bill, overcoming a potential filibuster by the Republicans.

Here is a freaky story in Wired about how violent dreams, especially in males, can predict neurological disorders like Parkinson’s 50 years down the line.

Once again, Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog had a poignant list of what constitutes a healthy relationship.

Infant mortality is up in Washington D.C., according to the DC Action For Children blog.

Wheat bread surpassed white bread in dollar sales this year, according to the Consumerist.

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


Dear People of Maine

Dear People of Maine:

This summer I wrote about taking my family to Maine for a vacation.  I wrote of the deep love I feel for that stretch of Southern Maine from Oqunquit to Falmouth that holds the memories of my childhood and teenage years in every mile.  I wrote about long days on the beach chasing waves, searching for sand dollars, and grappling with the ghosts of family who haunted me at every turn. I wrote about the satisfaction of sharing stories of skee-ball prowess at Old Orchard with my brother and illicit bar crawls through Portland with my sister.  I wrote of the quiet emptiness that came of gathering at my parent’s gravesite and the need to connect with my home state and its people in places as pedestrian as the local Hannaford or cultured as the Portland Museum of Art.  During our days and nights on Higgins Beach we blended seamlessly with every other family there.  Why shouldn’t we?  We, after all, were just another family trying to keep the beach umbrella from blowing away and wondering if 10am was too early to open the big bag of sour cream and onion potato chips.  The fact that my family had two moms instead of a mom and a dad never turned anyone’s head. And really, why should it have?  In fact the house we rented for that glorious week belonged to an old friend from high school and her wife.  Clearly this was a welcoming community in a welcoming state

As we drove down Route One that August Saturday on our way home, crammed into my jeep Liberty, tanned, with our stash of Len Libby Chocolate jammed near the air conditioning vents so it wouldn’t melt, I felt a tug at my heart as I realized that as much as I’ve come to feel at home in the rocky individualistic landscape of New Hampshire, Maine would always be the home that welcomed me back again and again.

Until last Tuesday.

Last spring when Maine Governor John Baldacci gave his stamp of approval to legislation allowing gays and lesbians to marry I rejoiced.  The momentum of that act carried forward to June when New Hampshire Governor John Lynch signed marriage equality into law as well.   Kelly and I talked about how great it was to have the option to either get married here in the state we both call home or perhaps to entertain ideas of a seaside wedding in Ogunquit, our favorite quick jaunt destination.   During those days it never occurred to me that the people of Maine would vote to approve a referendum grounded in  hatred, discrimination, and injustice and take away the right that had been granted.   When I woke Wednesday morning to the news of the previous days voting on Referendum One I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach.  To quote the character I’m playing in a show right now “how selfish and how cruel.“  Selfish to feel that one has the audacious right to vote on whether another human being can marry the person she loves and cruel to exercise that vote with such callous disregard for the people and families it will affect.

This week had been hard on many fronts.  Liza was sick and out of school for two days which necessitated the tried and true “working mom of a sick kid“ juggling act.  Two shows at the theater I work at had me driving back to work as soon as Kelly got home from her job as a nurse to relieve me at home.  A long frustrating search for a costume for my show had left me as usual hating the oversized and oddly-shaped body I inhabit and envying the young slender women who had a world of costumes to choose from.  By Saturday tempers were flaring at home as the stir-craziness of the sick house set in.  My peri-menopausal hormones in full swing I snapped at Liza for her attitude and petulance and burst into tears when Kelly made a joke about my costume hunt.  When I returned from the theater that evening, I was greeted by a scene that made me cry for completely different reasons.  Kelly informed me she and Liza had shared many long talks, folded laundry together, made and ate dinner together (Liza set and cleared the table), researched astrology and family trees on the internet, and that during that time Kelly had gently asked Liza to “give mommy a break now and then.“  The house of turmoil I had left was clean and calm.  I apologized for my tears and outburst and they shared the knowing look of two people who had decided the third was lovably crazy and told me it was ok.  As we turned in for the night I reflected on how blessed I was to have my girls.

This family scene could have been replayed thousands of times over in homes all across the country.  The fact that the players were two women and a child rather than a man, woman, and child bears no consequence.  This is my family, yes but at the end of the day it is just a family like any other — one full of hugs and hurts and tears and misunderstandings and game nights and grocery store runs and school chorus concerts and holiday traditions and vacation trips to the beaches of Maine.

So to the people of Maine I ask what is so threatening about this family picture?  The ugly prospect of joint newspaper subscriptions and arguments over which way to hang the toilet paper?  The repulsive thought of Kelly and I discussing who took the garbage out last? The terrifying concept of us being able to make medical decisions for each other without carrying around a lawyers briefcase full of legal documents?  The horrifying idea that there would be two moms from one family volunteering at the pizza table at the school fundraiser?  The disgusting image of our holiday Christmas cards?   We are your neighbors, your brothers, your sisters, your mothers and fathers and your friends.  We are next to you in church and in front of you at the movies.  We cheer our kids on the soccer field and dance recital stages.  We complain about our tax burden with you and gather in the morning to relive the best moments of the Super Bowl or the American Idol finale.  We care for our elderly parents and struggle to make ends meet in difficult times.   And in these difficult times we want what you want – to build a life and a legacy with the person we love.

And finally, dear People of Maine, let me reassure you that if a vote comes my way asking me if I feel it is ‘right’ for heterosexuals to marry each other or if I feel it is a threat to my way of life, I will remember this week and the way I felt and I will not turn my back on you as you have on me.  I will stand up for equality for everyone.  Because it’s the right thing to do.


Volunteers for Equality Needed in Maine, Washington and Michigan

A very important piece. Thank you for posting, DD! -Elisa

Three important votes on LGBT equality will take place next Tuesday in Maine, Washington state, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. After the jump I’ve cross-posted (with permission) information from the Courage Campaign on how people can help, either as a volunteer phone-banker or by donating to support these causes.


Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year’s legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.

What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.

How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We’ll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.


Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine’s recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine’s early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.

What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn’t effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We’ll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.

How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.

Kalamazoo, MI:

Goal Thermometer

Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo’s twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.

Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say “No to Discrimination” (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn’t true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.

How To Help:

1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign’s final field and GOTV efforts.  

Give here:…

2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign’s online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.

Contact voters:…

UPDATE from desmoinesdem, regarding the ballot initiative in Maine:

The polls have been encouraging, showing a lead for the “no on 1” position. Also, the No on 1 television ads have been outstanding, focused on real families as opposed to the No on Prop 8 ads last year in California. Here’s a No on 1 ad I particularly liked:

On the other hand, the Stand for Marriage Maine (the yes campaign) has been well-funded and produced a pretty good closing tv ad, so we can’t take anything for granted in this election.


Iowans not eager to overturn marriage equality

Marriage equality is here to stay in Iowa, if the latest statewide poll for the Des Moines Register is any guide:

Forty-one percent say they would vote for a [constitutional amendment to] ban [same-sex marriage], and 40 percent say they would vote to continue gay marriage. The rest either would not vote or say they are not sure. […]

The overwhelming majority of Iowans – 92 percent – say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives. […]

The poll shows that 26 percent of Iowans favor April’s unanimous court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don’t care much or are not sure.

Despite the 43 percent opposition to the ruling, 61 percent of Iowans say other issues will influence their decision on whether to vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 elections.

Selzer and Co. surveyed 803 Iowans between September 14 and 16, and the poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

I recommend clicking through to view the chart showing the breakdown by party affiliation on this issue. Among independents, only 44 percent either oppose or strongly oppose the Iowa Supreme Court’s decision that cleared the way for marriage equality, while 32 percent “don’t care much” and 22 percent either favor or strongly favor it.

Many Iowa Republicans are convinced that they can gain traction in next year’s legislative elections by bashing statehouse Democrats who oppose a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. However, the Republican candidate fell just short in the recent special election in Iowa House district 90, even though the National Organization for Marriage poured nearly $90,000 into ads supporting the Republican because of the marriage issue. (The NOM plans to be involved in next year’s Iowa elections as well.)

A poll commissioned by The Iowa Republican blog in July indicated that two-thirds of Iowans wanted a public vote on same-sex marriage, but that poll framed the question as follows: “The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled gay marriages can legally be conducted in the state. Whether you agree or disagree with the decision, do you think Iowa voters should have the chance to vote on a traditional marriage amendment to the constitution or is the issue best decided by the Supreme Court?” Todd Dorman was right to point out that it would have been more enlightening to ask respondents how they would vote on a marriage amendment.

The Register’s poll could strengthen the hand of moderate Iowa Republicans like Doug Gross, who have been saying all year that the GOP should downplay divisive social issues and focus on the economy in next year’s elections. On the other hand, 51 percent of Republicans surveyed by Selzer and Co strongly oppose the Supreme Court decision, while 11 percent just oppose the decision, 27 percent don’t care much and only 10 percent either favor or strongly favor it. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats promises to issue an executive order on day one halting same-sex marriages if elected, and he will find plenty of support among the Republican rank and file.

I’ve been telling my friends, “Don’t worry, be happy,” since the Iowa Supreme Court announced its Varnum v Brien decision in April. I figured that with each passing year, more Iowans would understand that no one is harmed and thousands are helped by granting gays and lesbians civil marriage rights. I also felt that Republicans would not be able to win many races on this issue in 2010, let alone in subsequent years. Still, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a poll this year showing majority support for overturning the Supreme Court ruling. Learning that a constitutional amendment on marriage lacks majority support even now makes me that much more optimistic. The constitutional amendment process is lengthy in Iowa.

Now it’s imperative to defeat Proposition 1 in Maine this November. Please help if you can.


10 days until first election tests marriage equality in Iowa

Although this isn’t a parenting diary, I thought it would be of interest to the Mother Talkers community.

Voters will elect a new state representative for Iowa House district 90 in a special election on September 1. The southeastern Iowa district leans slightly Democratic in terms of voter registration, but political scientists have found that special elections and by-elections often favor opposition parties, whose supporters are more motivated to turn out. (Democrats control both chambers of the Iowa legislature as well as the governor’s chair.)

Neither Republican Stephen Burgmeier nor Democrat Curt Hanson has highlighted same-sex marriage rights during the brief campaign in district 90, but a major advertising campaign funded by the National Organization for Marriage is likely to put the issue front and center during the final stretch.

Burgmeier is one of three Republican supervisors in Jefferson County, most of which lies in Iowa House district 90. He made a show of posturing against same-sex marriage on April 27, the day the Iowa Supreme Court’s Varnum v Brien ruling went into effect. He mentioned his support for giving Iowans “a right to vote on the definition of marriage” in the press release announcing his candidacy for the special election.

However, the Republican-aligned interest groups that are staffing his campaign have decided to focus on taxes and the state budget (for instance, in this television ad). The issues page on Burgmeier’s campaign site does not mention gay marriage or abortion. That has angered a right-winger who calls Burgmeier a “sellout” and is running in district 90 with an emphasis on social issues.

Chase Martyn of Iowa Independent posted yesterday that the National Organization for Marriage “has purchased $86,060 worth of television and radio ads” to help Burgmeier. That is a major ad buy for an Iowa legislative district. Martyn uploaded an independent expenditure report (pdf file) that the group filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, but that document didn’t include information about the content or placement of the ads.

I don’t know yet how the NOM is framing the marriage equality issue for this campaign. I also haven’t heard whether the ads mainly support the Republican or also attack the Democratic candidate. I have asked Iowans in the viewing area for this district to post comments in this thread at Bleeding Heartland.

I hope the NOM’s Iowa ads turn out to be as laughable as the group’s “Gathering Storm” commercial from April, which spawned many parodies on YouTube and a brilliant response from Stephen Colbert.

The Democratic candidate for the special election is Curt Hanson, a retired driver’s education teacher who has won various teaching awards. Hanson is campaigning on bread-and-butter issues: jobs, health care, education, and balancing the budget. He doesn’t mention marriage equality or the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on his site’s issues page.

Democrats hold a 56-44 majority in the Iowa House. House Speaker Pat Murphy strongly supported the Varnum v Brien ruling and has made clear he will block efforts to bring a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to the House floor. A victory in this special election would be a shot in the arm for the Republican Party of Iowa, which has suffered net losses of seats in the Iowa legislature for four straight elections. In fact, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn has called the district 90 special election a “must win.”

If Burgmeier is successful on September 1, expect his campaign strategy to be copied in competitive legislative districts next year. Republican candidates can focus on economic issues while outside groups pay for ads attacking gay marriage.


Blog for Freedom to Marry Week: The Only Agenda Is Love

Freedom to MarryPlease join a blogswarm for the Freedom to Marry!

Today, bloggers in the LGBT community and our allies will be participating in “The Only Agenda Is Love,” a blogswarm in support of Freedom to Marry Week. By being a part of this effort, you will help contribute to a blogosphere-wide education campaign about ways your readers can help promote fair legislation and rescind anti-equality measures.

I am working with Mike Rogers of LGBT news site PageOneQ on the event, and we hope you will take a moment to blog on this important issue. Several states, including New York and New Jersey, are poised to consider marriage equality this year. The California Supreme Court will consider the legality of Prop 8 on March 5.

We’re also offering some exciting prizes. For each post you write, up to a maximum of four, we’ll enter you into a contest for a $250 prize or one of three $100 prizes. (Prizes will be awarded in online gift certificates.)

Once you’ve posted today, visit Mombian to submit the link to your post(s). We’ll be sure to link it from our master list of participating blogs.

When posting, please try to include the blogswarm graphic in this post or one of the exciting graphics created for Freedom To Marry’s weeklong program, 7 Conversations in 7 Days. (They are also located here.)

Please also include a link to Freedom to Marry’s event page for the week:…

If you prefer, this link will work also:…

Thanks and happy posting!

Dana Rudolph, Mombian

Mike Rogers, PageOneQ