Monday, November 19, 2012

Wyoming's State Director UniteWomen.org Writes Her State Representative

Dear Cynthia Lummis,

I am a domestic violence survivor. I am a Wyoming citizen. I am a wife a mother, a sister, and a daughter.

I am concerned with your choice in the vote for the HouseViolence Against Women Act. The House's version of this bill is watered down from the Senate's. The House version does not protect many women in Wyoming that are just as worthy of safety as I am as a straight, white, citizen. It does not protect lesbians, it does not protect Native American Women, nor does it protect illegal immigrants. The Senate version protects everyone and I cannot fathom why you would not vote for it.

I think of a dear friend, Jackie. She is also a mother, daughter, sister and grandmother who lives here in your state and deserves the same protections from the law that I get. Should it matter that she is a lesbian? I don't understand. Why do you vote for laws that imply that it is ok to rape or beat her?

I live in Laramie. I pass the site of Matthew Shepard's death weekly. I think about him and others like him and I tell myself that Laramie and Wyoming both learned a lesson from his loss that we promised to never forget.

Then, you make a vote like this, and I wonder if you have forgotten.

Let me remind you. We are done with hate here. We no longer choose to participate in the most vile aspect of hatred - the tolerance of injustice.  You may not be aware of it, having spent so much time in Washington, but we do not tolerate violence against anyone in Wyoming. Not even against people who love others of the same gender. Not even illegal immigrants. Not even Native Americans.

As a former victim of domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment and abuse I can tell you that the common thread in these crimes is Power. When a woman believes that no one can or will help her, she is trapped not by her abuser but the society that implicitly condones his behavior.

The reason that I must stand up, and speak out against your vote here is simple. Choosing a law that gives power to abusers over their victims is always wrong, no matter what. To seperate any group, for any reason, as unworthy of the protection of the law is offensive to a nation that knows that all of us are created equal. It is beneath the creed of our Equality State. It is a betrayal of women. It is an assault on justice.

Miss Lummis, I understand that your party pressures you to make absurd votes like this. I understand that our system doesn't always make it easy to do the right thing. The fact is that you have to stop and ask yourself what motivation you have to vote against the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act. Are you afraid of stepping away from the party line?

You should be afraid of the rapist who finds that he can rape as often as he wants so long as he picks victims not protected by law. You should be afraid of the husband who beats his wife and tells her she has to take it because no one will protect her. You should be afraid of seeing my name beside yours on the next ballot. You should be afraid of Saint Peter and that moment, as you stare longingly at pearly white gates, when he asks you to explain why you didn't protect the women you were responsible for.

The validity of a woman's rape, or broken nose, or terrifying abuse has nothing to do with what gender she loves, what country she was born in, or what color her skin is. Next time you get a chance to vote on an issue that protects women, please make sure that you choose to protect all of us.

Sincerely
Sarah Zacharias
Wyoming State Director UniteWomen.org

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Send Jenny Some Love

Do you enjoy my posts on The Pragmatic Progressive, Real Truth Now and The Bucking Jenny's Facebook and Blogspot?

If you do, be sure to donate if and when you can.  Thank you for supporting my efforts at providing a progressive voice from the Rockies. ~ Sarah

Monday, November 5, 2012

Dear Mr. President

Some of you may remember my viral letter to Mitt Romney, (which you can view at this link, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/20/1134324/-Amazing-Open-Letter-to-Romney). This time, I thought I would drop a line to our president. Here it is.


Dear Mr. President,
On the eve of your re-election, I thought I would send you a very special thank you. Thank you for being such a fine leader and admirable human being.
When you gave hope to our nation in 2008, you inoculated us against a second great depression. When you bet on America with an 8 billion dollar stimulus, you wagered on America's middle class. When you did that, you reminded us of our fundamental values, and encouraged us toward a great future.
My love affair with your message is intense. I suspect that I am not alone. I remember that, when you appeared on scene, you changed America. I would go so far as to say that when we met you, you made us want to be a better nation. Thank you for that.
I have watched you, every day for these past four years, and I see a man who loves us. I see a man who has the audacity to hope for the best for all Americans, the 100% of us! (You never leave Americans behind, not even the 47% of us that your opponent dismisses with malice.)
When I look at you, I see a man who judges Americans, not by the color of their skin, or the contents of their wallets, or the language they speak or the gender of the person they love... But by their love for their neighbor and country, and if they are their brother's keeper, and if they are willing to improve our nation by leaving spite and greed behind.
Thank you. Your presidency has reminded us, of the great lessons of our history. You reminded us of Jeffersonian liberty, and Washingtonian honesty. You reminded us of Abraham Lincoln's unity and FDR's New Deal security.
Mr. Obama, you are the embodiment of Martin Luther King's dream. You are the stone of hope that rolled from a mountain of despair. Each night, when I tuck my sons in to sleep, from a house of poverty and a home built on struggle, I do so knowing that your mother did the same.
Each evening, when I encourage them to work at their studies, I promise them an America where any child with a dream has a chance and because of you... I believe my own promise. Mr. President, you are proof that I speak the truth in your very existence.
I am proud, this fifth of November, to be an American citizen who will be blessed with the opportunity to vote for you tomorrow. I am thrilled, Mr. president, to know that when I vote for You, I am voting for Myself, My Sons and My America! When I mark the ballot next to your name, I am certain I will weep with gratitude that I live in this exact moment in history, and that I am able to lend my voice your chorus.
I know that you will give my family the ability to survive in spite of tough odds in return for my vote. You will give us access to affordable healthcare and education, you will move our nation onward still toward our dreams of equality, you will work tirelessly for national economic stability, you will ensure international safety and you will be a leader who fights for the little people... Like me and mine.
Mr. Obama, thank you, for devoting yourself to us. Thank you for fighting for my son's opportunities. Thank you for sticking up for me and my rights to my body. Thank you, for supporting marriage equality for my gay family members. Thank you for bringing my childhood friends home from war. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, for Obamare, which protects so many that I love.
Mr. President, thank you for your audacity, your tenacity and your loving determination. You have pulled our nation forward toward a bright future.
I hope... Nay, I know that come Wednesday I will add my voice to the multitudes in offering you congratulations on a second term, until then Sir, keep up the good work.
Sincerely,
American Voter, Mother, Sister, Daughter, Wife, Writer and Friend,
Sarah Zacharias

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Credit Due For Chris Christie

In September of 2001 when our president, George W. Bush, spoke about the terrible tragedy of the eleventh, I was very moved. I watched him stand there, with a grieved face holding that fireman's badge up for all of us to see, and I felt that bond of being fellow Americans, which supersedes party lines. My blue heart wept alongside the president's red one.
It has been more than a decade now, and twittertentionspans have become an epidemic. We have forgotten the unity of September 12th which we had vowed to remember always. We have forgotten that when tragedy strikes Americans, we bleed not blue, we weep not red, we stand not divided. When tragedy strikes Americans we stand united.
I have spent the better part of my life following my liberal values, and developing a personal belief system which is based left of mainstream. I am proud of this. I see absolutely no deviation from my values in supporting George W. Bush and his tear filled eyes on September 12th 2001. In fact, I feel pride for standing with my nation and its leader. Just as I feel pride today, in standing with Chris Christie.
Last month, Gov. Christie spewed a load of nonsense laced with hate with a sick passion at the RNC as the Keynote speaker. Nearly all of his rhetoric was directed at our fine President Barack Obama. I was incensed by Christie's words. In fact, in response I flamed him in my own way, roasted slowly in front of hundreds of thousands on the Internet.
I suspect that if asked in a setting where he could be genuine, Christie would admit to holding every word he said in that speech as true in his heart to this day. His politics have not changed any more than G.W. Bush's did when the towers fell.
All the same, it doesn't look like that right now, today, as we watch Christie slap the President on the back, greet him warmly, and sing his praises. In fact, to the GOP it must look like Christie is betraying them, and in the last moments of the election at that! They have, to my knowledge, berated him for working with the President on at least three FOX, one ABC, and 2 CNN newscasts.
For shame.
It should be wildly apparent to anybody watching the travesty of Hurricane Sandy's wake that now is not the time to fall divided, split by loyalties to party lines. Now is the time to stand united. Now is not the time to be Republicans and Democrats. Now is the time to be Americans.
It is not Gov. Christie's Jersey Shore in ruins. It is America's Jersey Shore in ruins.
When I watched the devastation of the East Coast, I felt much like I did in September of 2001. In both cases I felt a lot of things, but partisanship wasn't one of them.
Just as Mr. Christie would most likely stand by his political RNC speech, I stand by every word I have ever said about that man and his rotten politics. Unlike the GOP, I will give him the highest praise for one thing he has done, for which he deserves respect; he loves New Jersey more than he hates Barack Obama.
The GOP obviously doesn't - else they'd give credit to Christie, where credit is due. Because they choose not to praise his hard work and devotion to his people, the GOP and their leader, Mitt Romney show their true colors, and I tell you what, they ain't red white and blue.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why I Am Pro Choice ~ A Statment from WY State Director of UniteWomen.org

Since I accepted the position as Wyoming's State Director for UniteWomen.org I have been thinking a lot about abortion law in the US. I am not the only one, it's all over the TV and the political candidates and pundits keep arguing about it. 
Few of them seem to acknowledge that the actual law of these United States, as determined by Roe v. Wade, states that under the 14th amendment women have a right to privacy which includes the right to make their own private medical decisions.
The 1st amendment states that we also have a right to freedom of religion, which clearly includes a freedom to decide on issues of faith personally and privately.  Nobody, has any scientific idea of when a soul enters a body.  Nobody.  This is an issue of faith and as such it is protected by constitutional law.
I can't help but ask, why there is a movement to outlaw or at least make abortions less accessible?  Does anybody really believe that making abortion illegal will make it go away?  Have we forgotten bloody coat hangers in back alleys
More to the point, does anybody really think that making abortion more accessible would make women start having unprotected and promiscuous sex while planning on using abortion as their sole form of birth control?
Seriously, let's stop and just be frank for a moment.  Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that we tried the polar opposite of the GOP plan
What would happen if we made abortions and birth control legal, accessible, free, and put a clinic on every corner?  Would women suddenly say, "Wow, I think I'll go have more abortions."?  What if we gave away a free TV set or a new car with every procedure?  Would you carelessly get pregnant and go have an abortion?  What if we had a policy of ensuring that anybody who had an abortion got a tax cut?  How about then...does that make you wanna abort a child?  What about anybody else you know, would they do that? How big with the tax cut have to be?
This is absurd.  We are fighting over a right that was put in place for difficult circumstances. We are not talking about limiting an enjoyable experience.  For instance, if we were talking about the new law in New York which limits the sizes of sodas vendors can sell:
What would happen if we made sodas accessible, and free and put venders on every corner?  Almost everyone would say, "Wow, I think I'll drink more soda."  What if we gave away a free tv set or a new car with every soda?  Would you go get yours? What if we had a policy of giving tax cuts to soda drinkers?  Does that make you thirsty? 
Do you see, how absurd this is?  There is a difference between limiting enjoyable but harmful behavior and helping to ensure the safety and accessibility of a terrible choice.
I like to think of that difference as demand. The demand for soda, is obviously more fickle, and dependent of factors like thirst and associated offers for televisions or money.  The demand for abortion is based on life circumstances known only to each individual woman. 
History has proven that the choice to have an abortion is so desperate that we can't legislate it awayOn the other hand, we have also learned that we can make it safe and provide other real, workable alternatives ranging from prevention of abortion (aka birth control) to adoption. 
I don't know about you, but I don't know anybody who would say, "Yes, stick a vacuum inside my vagina and suck the very life out of me please."   No matter what mythology you may have heard, abortions are not easy or painlessAbortion is painful, it is confusing, it is scary, it is risky, and it is a terrible experience.
Current GOP mythology talks about women who have abortions because they are too lazy to take birth control, or too selfish to consider the unbornMeanwhile they simultaneously make access to birth control more difficult and less affordable - forcing women into terrible situations.
They tell lies about women making up or somehow exaggerating  rapes to get abortions, even though the only circumstance under which a woman would have to do such a thing, would be if abortion were made illegal except in the case of rape.
The GOP imply that there is a priority in their faith over all else.  But they forget that their faith is not everyone's faith.  The women of America are free to operate within the confines of their own religions, not the religion of their bosses, or their congressmen. Folks, this is the noble thing about America.  We are all free.
Our freedoms end only when they overlap and eliminate the freedoms of other citizens.  As Oliver Wendall Homes said, "My right to swing my fist ends at your nose."  That means that your right to practice your religion ends at my uterus.
The fact is that using shame and misplaced laws to regulate abortion is ineffective.  If we don't want abortions, we should wise up.  We should teach actual, science based, family planning from an early age.  We should provide easy and affordable access to all forms of contraception.  We should provide choice and opportunity and education to young women, because the most effective way to reduce abortion is to give women power and confidence and financial security.
We should also recognize that unwanted pregnancy is not a women's issue.  It is a human issue.  It is a sexual health issue that applies to both genders.  We must put as much pressure for sexual responsibility on young men as we do young women.  We should teach both our sons and our daughters that they are valued; that love and sex are not interchangeable; and that they can find ways to have safe, happy, healthy relationships that are valuable to both parties beyond the bedroom. 
The bottom line is that laws that shame women, by implying that choosing their own path, their own spirituality an their own method of family planning is somehow sinful are crushing the spirits of the women in our nation.  They teach us to hurt ourselves, disrespect ourselves, and settle for less than what we deserve.  When this happens to the women of our nation... this happens to our whole nation.
I understand and wholeheartedly support the choice to have a child, planned or unplanned.  In fact, I find motherhood and all it's struggles to be even more beautiful when I consider that the mother chose that destiny.  Wiping poopy diapers, scolding teenagers, loving grown adult children and worrying every night before you fall asleep for the rest of your life is a beautiful gift from a mother to a child.  Doing all of that, when you didn't have to, is even more grand. 
I remember that one of the most heroically loving things I have ever seen was when I watched a dear friend give her son a complete family when she gave him up for adoption because she was not ready to raise him.  Both she and I count the days till he is an adult and ready to meet us.  Few people hold more honor in my mind than women who are strong enough to give the adoptive parents and more importantly the child such a fine gift.
I have also seen another young woman who faced an unwanted pregnancy after date rape as a teenager... She said she knew instantly that she was not strong enough to give a baby up for adoption.  If she carried the pregnancy to term, she knew she would want to keep it and she knew that was the wrong choice for her.  She felt that giving any child that particular rapist for a daddy or an unprepared teenaged mom for a mommy was more despicable than having an abortion. 
No one was capable of judging that but her.  Nobody but her has to carry the weight of this burden, so nobody but her should decide if she should shoulder it.
Choice, is a two sided coin.  I stand up for not just the heads or the tails flip, but the whole coin when I proudly proclaim that I am pro-choice.  No woman should ever be forced to carry or abort a child  against her own free will.  Nobody should be shamed for examining their own spirit and determining their own destiny.  That isn't what America is about. 
America is about choice and opportunity.  Freedom of choice is implicitly preserved in our constitution and explicitly protected by Roe V Wade.  We are a great people, and we know that at least 51% of the reason for that comes from the women that we should trust with their own bodies, minds, and destinies
I know that I would trust my mother, my sisters, my daughters, my nieces, my aunts and myself with these decisions.  I trust us to know when and with whom we are prepared to have a child.  I place my bet on the integrity and morality of American women over shame any day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eli

Meet the Gibson Family, in this photo they eagerly anticipate Eli's birth.
Most of my posts take me mere minutes. I simply, as one writer put it, set down to the keyboard, slit my wrists and bleed into it.  Some, are much harder. Usually, these are research pieces which require less heart and more numbers.
That is why the story of little Eli was surprising to me, his struggle struck me speechless. See, fromthe moment I heard about his battle with life threatening, rare, and serious birth defects, I have been moved. I am a mother of sons. Stories about hurt baby boys are easy for me to identify with.
Then, I went back and followed his mother Jen on her journey from celebrating a much loved and anticipated pregnancy... to realizing that her child would be born deathly ill.
I am disabled. I bitch about it regularly.
I complain to my family, friends... my readers too.
But this is something different. Any parent knows what I mean. For instance, when I am laying in a dark hospital room, weeping in pain and despair, the one light in my heart and soul is knowing that my children are healthy and safe. The suffering of a parent who has an ill child... that is something worse even than actually physically suffering themselves.
I have tried to write an article, with pay-pal links to Jen's blog so that we could all rally around her like so many have rallied around me in my tough times... but for some reason, I have had a block.
I cannot find the right words to compile to explain why my political readers should stop and care about this infant we've never met. But dammit, you should.
This is Baby Eli and his big sister.  What a pair of troopers.
 Each time that I read a status update or blogpost about his most imminent struggle, I am struck with a strange fear. I find myself afraid that I took to long, afraid that I made a grave mistake in waiting for perfection before I shared Baby Eli's story. I just got news that little Eli is in for another rough night.
The fact is that my fear is nothing but grief for a whole family who loves this boy very much. My fear comes from wishing, like his mother must with every fiber of her being, that I could wave my wand and give this infant a healthy body for his beautiful soul to reside in. My fear comes from the unknown, from not understanding my own purpose, let alone the purpose of the suffering of such a child. The fact is.. this is something none of us can understand, justify or fix. Prayers are all we have and on this occasion, I pray for peace and understanding.
Of course, praying for peace is nice, but it doesn't make it come to be. If praying were enough... well, we know how different this world would be. It's time... no it is past time, to take action for little Eli and his family.
The financial strain of this illness and tragedy is huge. The struggle of this sick child is enough. This family should not bear the burden of financial strife at this time too.
I cannot hug this mom from my many hundreds of miles away. I cannot bring her children hot meals. I cannot sit up with her sick baby while she sleeps. I cannot make sure her husband has lunch at work. I can only offer my voice, and the knowledge of my fine readership. I am certain that you will hear this story and want to help. Here is a link. Donate freely.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Red State - Blue Heart, Musings Of A Liberal Wyomerican

There is a certain amount of bullying and intolerance that comes from being a liberal in the Rocky Mountain West.  It has been a difficult for me, an avid environmentalist, women's right's advocate, and progressive voter to acclimate myself to the political climate of South West Wyoming.    In 2009, shortly after President Obama's inauguration, I was literally disowned by one of my Wyoming raised cousins after a weeklong Facebook debate on the meaning of the word socialism and the unrealistic rumor that Mr. Obama was a closet Kenyan Muslim.  We parted ways after I shouted into the phone one day, "If you think that the Hawaiian government forged Obama's birth certificate and news announcement back in the 60's you are the victim of the greatest Jedi mind-trick ever perpetrated on mankind!" and hung up on him. 

In a state where we dedicate international studies buildings at our public university to Dick Cheney and have not one, but two strains of the republican party (The Rhino and Crow) which bicker over just who is the reddest of the red... I am often blown away by the rhetoric.  When I moved from Olympia, WA to Laramie, WY in 2008 - I was often asked if I was aware that I was in Wyoming, whenever I expressed an opinion.

I remember that I once I asked an Wyoming History and Economics professor why we don't tax our oil and gas exports at leas
t at the higher level approved by Gov. Palin in Alaska. He said, "I am sorry, but it is the Wyoming Way," as if I was unaware of the fact that my geographic location was an excuse for settling for something less than sub-par GOP behavior.  Often, a right-wing Wyomingite will retort to sound liberal logic, "This is Wyoming, Love it or Leave it."  Of course, this is a moment in which they deny the truth of the Wyoming Way.  The truth of the Wyoming Way has nothing to do with giving up or leaving.



I think about this a lot. I know the Wyoming Way. My ancestors defined it. They plowed this earth, they dug the canals, they built the road to Yellowstone. They broke the ponies, laid the rail, and maintained the homesteads. I can tell you this right now... Nobody left when things got tough.

I will tell you something else I know.  The Wyoming Way, is not the way of rich cattle barons who rule their aristocracy from afar. The Wyoming Way, is the way of free-grazing cattlemen, who labor and bleed to feed their families and pay meager taxes. Think of sweat and blood and dirt and tears, think of hard winters and hot summers and people like me who live a mile and a half high in the sky.

When you think Wyoming, think not of the Cattle Baron, but the Cowboy. Think of strength and character and hard effort and righteous deeds. Think not of profit gained by soft manicured hands and manipulation over effort. When you think of America, think Wyoming. Think of a woman raising two children in a little house on the prairie. Think of her husband and his bent back. Think of us walking through blizzards to pursue education. Think of us, traversing mountain passes and deserts for medical care. Think of us, and our humble lives, living little bitty, living on love and not much else.

Now ask yourself, very honestly - Which candidates on your ballot will represent us best? Which candidates are the cattle barons? Which are the cowboys? The Wyoming Way is the honest, hardworking, righteous way. I know it because it runs five generations back in my blood.

I know the Wyoming Way, as well as I know my own child's voice... I know the American Way as I know his heartbeat... And I will give you a hint, regardless of the cognitive dissonance in our majority vote - the Wyoming Way does not in the slightest resemble the platform of today's GOP. In spite of the insistence in their squawking, FOX News is not the American Way.

I am a Wyomerican Cowgirl.  I couldn't be more proud.  I have worn hands, and tired feet.  I have sleepy children with full bellies.  I have my own piece of green grass, and a roof between me and the stars.  I have an open heart, and a thinking brain.  I am grateful.  I am proud.  I am ready to pay it forward... starting with my vote.

I am proud of this image, showing the democratic delegates at the DNC. I am proud of my fellow Wyoming Democrats. We may not be the squeaky wheels on the wagon, but the last I checked, the three quiet wheels are just as important when it is time to get rolling
Please, vote thoughtfully and progressively this election. Remind your friends, your neighbors, your spouse. It is important and your voices count.