By Cynthia Walsh, Field Organizer for Amnesty International USA
Pregnant with my first child! Excitedly, I began immediately searching for a nurse midwife who would guide me and serve as my health advocate throughout my pregnancy.
Living in West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer for a time, I had several wonderful encounters with Traditional Birth Attendants or TBA’s. The TBA’s that I worked with were a small group of dedicated women ranging in age from early 30’s to mid 60’s who assumed the role of everything from family counselor, marriage intermediary, women’s advocate, family planner, nutrition counselor, pre-natal care provider to birth attendant in their small respective villages. Often these villages are located days’ journey by foot from any sort of rural health clinic so the presence of a TBA is critical to the life or death of pregnant women and her unborn children.
In the United States, my own personal experience with my nurse midwife “Judy” was more than I could have imagined and I definitely felt as though I was fully engaged and informed in all phases of my prenatal care, delivery, and post-partum recovery.
The stars appear to be aligning. Yesterday, for the first time, a state legislature voted to allow same-sex marriage. Vermont joined Connecticut, Massachusetts, and recently Iowa, in recognizing marriage equality. But unlike those states that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage through judicial establishment of constitutional protections, Vermont’s voter-elected representatives made the historic move. And they did it with enough support to overwhelm Governor Jim Douglas’ veto. All this happened while the Washington D.C. city council voted unanimously to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Those of us who believe in marriage equality are feeling pretty good. Just don’t turn on your television. Today, the National Organization for Marriage (don’t be confused by the name) launched a new ad campaign that “that highlights how same-sex marriage undermines the core civil rights of those who believe in the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” Huh? The people who don’t want to let same-sex couples get married are claiming their civil rights are at risk?
This illogical dribble is part of a larger strategy to make people who have recognized marriage rights, feel threatened by people who don’t. They have been up to it for a while. The “Defense of Marriage” Act that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed by states was passed by Congress in 1996.
I recently listened to a radio interview, where the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, Brian Brown, issued ominous warnings that overturning bans on same-sex marriage will “suppress, marginalize and punish” all the hetero marrieds. According to Brian, the state-by-state move to marriage equality represents a terrible threat to the country as a whole and to each marriage between a woman and a man:
I’ve tried, but I can’t see how my marital institution faces imminent threat because gay and lesbian couples are now able to get married in a handful of states. Just in case I am missing something, I took an extra hard look at my husband as we started our day. Nothing seemed amiss as I eyed him over my coffee mug. Was our union facing disintegration, brought on by allowing (gasp) gay people to have what we have? No revelations here. I can’t seem to find my way around the belief that this argument over “protecting” civil marriage is really just a mask for bigotry. Someone needs to explain it to me.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.