My ballot is officially in the mail! I’m proud to be able to say my paternal grandmother’s mother actually participated in a suffragist parade in Chicago. She bundled up her infant daughter (my grandmother), and went right on down to march. Yes, I know men shed blood for the right to vote, too. But you fellas have had the right to vote since this country was founded. We’ve been at it less than 100 years, and we’re still fighting for some of the same basic rights men take for granted.
So many women before me fought hard, some even to the death so that I could sit at my kitchen counter, read through the voter information pamphlet, and decide for myself how I want my country and my state run, and by whom. It makes me feel incredibly proud, and I always get a little emotional when I seal that envelope.
My dad and I disagree – sometimes very strongly – when it comes to politics. But I know he knows I don’t take it lightly, that my decisions are always based in truth and facts. My dad is the person who took me to register to vote. I also think of him when I put my envelope in the mailbox.
Last night, as always, I voted my conscience based on what I’ve observed, researched, and learned over the past four years and during this election cycle. I voted for the candidates I feel are best qualified, candidates who I know are looking out for my best interests as a woman, and who understand that there is a huge connection between the economy and women’s reproductive health.
I also voted for equality. I’m still waiting for the Equal Rights Amendment to pass. Women have been trying to pass it since two years after I was born, and it breaks my heart to be old enough to now say I hope I get to see it pass during my lifetime. We have a sitting Supreme Court Justice (Antonin Scalia) who said in January, 2011
Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws.
Actually, what the 14th Amendment says is,
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I want the state of Washington’s Referendum 74 to pass because I love and adore my LGBT friends, and I want them to have access to the same legal rights – nearly 1400 of them – I enjoy as a married heterosexual woman. Besides, I love weddings. I’ve cried like a 2-year-old at every ceremony I’ve ever attended. I’ve never been a bridesmaid, though. Ever. (Is that a subtle enough hint? Too much? Sigh…) Most importantly, as a woman still hoping for equality in the eyes of the law, who am I to deny equality to others? How can I possibly demand politicians stop trying to force me to adhere to their strict religious tenets and not demand the same on behalf of others? How much more Orwellian could that possibly get? “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” That seems immoral and hypocritical to me. It’s also unconstitutional.
I voted to keep medical decisions about my body between my doctor and me, and I voted to keep my walk with God between me and, well, God. And my priest. He’s a pretty awesome “kid”. When he marries his boyfriend this winter I want an invitation. Unless it’s a private ceremony, in which case I’ll be the crazy weirdo hiding under the last pews.
My grandmother and her mother might not have agreed with my choices, but I think they’d respect and understand them. I think they, like my dad, would be proud that I didn’t vote one way or another because somebody told me to or because it sounded good. They’d be proud to know I’m educated on the issues and candidates. I like to believe they’re looking down, smiling, knowing their tireless efforts were worth it.
The ballot I put in the mailbox last night is not just about my future and the futures of millions of others. It’s just as much about honoring where I’ve come from. And that’s pretty darned humbling when I stop to think about it.