Mitch McConnell Writes Letters: Act Two

Not long ago, I wrote to Mitch McConnell, one of my Senators, to voice my objections to the Blunt Amendment. The amendment, if you recall, would have allowed any employer to refuse health insurance coverage for birth control. Thankfully, the amendment failed. However, I’m only just now receiving a response my from esteemed representative.

This is not the first time I’ve written to McConnell. This is the first time, however, that he acknowledges my disagreement. In the past, his letters assume the recipient agrees with his views, and assures the reader that he will fight (fight!) to represent my interests in the Senate. I could only conclude that no one read my letter at all.

This time, his letter gives me background on the issue. (Uh, Mitch? I know. Why the fuck do you think I’m writing?) Then, he gives his version of events, presenting them as undoubtedly the objective truth:

“You don’t have to belong to any particular faith to see if that if government can violate the religious rights of one group, then surely it can violate those of others.”

He concludes with a condescending acknowledgement of our disagreement on the issue, before he thanks me for sharing my “opinions” with him anyway.

McConnell’s letter highlights his utterly incapability of distinguishing between religious freedom, employees rights, and the fact that institutions are not people.

McConnell fails to realize the employees of faith-based institutions do not subscribe to the institution’s religious affiliation merely because they’re on the payroll. I know it’s difficult for Mitch to believe, but some people work for companies they don’t believe in, that they don’t even like, because they need the paycheck.

McConnell is utterly incapable of recognizing the fundamental difference between believing in a religious system, and adhering to its moral codes in your own personal behavior, and attempting to force those under your control to adhere to them, too. That’s not religious freedom, that’s tyranny.

Newsflash: 98% of Catholic women have used birth control. Religions are not like the Republican Party. It’s not a “follow our orders to the minutiae or GTFO” deal. Spiritual beliefs are deeply personal, intimate, and individualistic. Ever notice how many denominations there are in Christianity alone, Mitch? No one person’s faith is going to look like another’s, even if they share the same label. That is our right in this country–to believe whatever we want.

How many times, and how many ways do I have to say that an employer, especially a faith-based one, has no right to impose and enforce its beliefs on their employees?

It is the height of arrogance, not to mention irony, to accuse the Obama administration of crossing “a dangerous line.”

Oh, and this?

“I was disappointed that Senator Blunt’s amendment failed to overcome the threat of a filibuster by a mostly partisan vote. Americans decided at our nation’s founding that the government cannot tell someone whether their religion is worth believing. For the protection of everyone who enjoys the freedom to worship as they wish, this mandate should be repealed.”

I was disappointed that Senator Blunt’s amendment failed.

I bet you were.

overcome the threat of a filibuster by a mostly partisan vote.

How’d you like a taste of your own medicine? I must say, that’s a pretty pathetic potshot, considering you and your GOP friends have been filibustering every possible piece of legislation, even if you agreed with it, just to make the President look bad. Check the mirror before you whine about partisanship, you hypocritical old fart.

Americans decided at our nation’s founding that the government cannot tell someone whether their religion is worth believing.

That’s not what happened here, and you know it. I object to your attempting to give my employer the right to dictate what my health insurance will or will not cover–forcing me to adhere to my employer’s religious beliefs. My employer can believe whatever the fuck he wants. He can’t impose that on me, and neither can you. The government’s job is to protect people like me from people like you.

For the protection of everyone who enjoys the freedom to worship as they wish,

Wait, are you actually acknowledging that not everyone has the freedom to worship as they wish? I know you’re not, and that’s a shame.

this mandate should be repealed.

No.

Postscript: Uh, Mitch? You know you sent that letter to me twice, right? And you know you referred to me as “Mr.” in the first letter? I know you don’t really read correspondence from constituents that disagree with you, but you should pay close enough attention to, at the very least, get my name and my gender correct.

Just saying. And I’ll be passing along your little boo-boo to other voters. I’m sure Kentuckians will be very interested to learn just how little attention you pay to your constituency.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

Others have made the point that health insurance is a part of women’s wages, wages that we earn–not a privilege benevolently bestowed on us by men who may revoke it at any time, because taxpayers and religion.

I agree with that point–I’ve said it many times in face to face arguments and on facebook over the last month.

Women have an established right to equal pay for equal work. Allowing employers to restrict our access to birth control is a violation of that right.

We earn our health benefits. No matter how icky you may find our cunts, and how we use our cunts, you cannot restrict our access to the health benefits that we have earned by our work.

The debate on birth control is merely a new verse in the same old song. This is nothing more than the next attempt to take away the rights of women to be free and to choose our own destinies.

Getting My Activism On: Contacting Representatives

I apologize for the light posting today. I am one angry feminist. Darrell Issa’s little stunt yesterday motivated me to get my activism on. I signed a number of petitions while I was at work yesterday. Today, I visited the One Million Pissed Off Women page on facebook and saw this:

“The asshole (OMG I’m shaking MAD) at ISSa’s office just told me that this is all about trying to get Obama out because of his persecution of traditional religious institutions. He just stuttered when I brought up ED and penile implants and had nothing to say about the fact that the largest Catholic institutions ALREADY provided birth control in their insurance plans. This is a fringe element push and has nothing to do with us. He also said (in a very Neener-neener, sing-song way) that the republicans were in power, they are going to stay in power and Issa has the control to have his hearings any way he saw fit.. Smarmy FUCKER!!!”

So I decided to give ol’ Issa a call myself. (202-225-3906!) An aide answered, and asked me where I was from. When I said Kentucky, I was immediately transferred to voicemail without comment or the opportunity to say much of anything.

His mailbox was full. I couldn’t leave a message.

I went back to OMPOW’s page, and read the comments. There are more similar stories of women calling, and either getting transferred or condescended to. I learned that Mr. Issa is up for re-election this year, and that his opponent is Jerry Tetalman. I visited his website, and lo and behold! He has, on his front page, pronounced that he is pro-choice.

I wondered if he’d responded to yesterday’s travesty. He hadn’t. So, I decided to e-mail him. This is my message:

“Jerry,

Hello, my name is Brittany-Ann. I just learned about your candidacy today. I am a pro-choice feminist, and it heartens me to see a man who is not only pro-choice, but believes so strongly in a woman’s right to choose that he is willing to put it on the front page of his website.

Yesterday, your opponent, Darrell Issa, convened a committee made up completely of extremely conservative religious men to discuss women’s right to access birth control. Women all over the country are mobilizing–calling Issa’s office, e-mailing him, and blogging about his actions. I tried to call myself, and got transferred to a full voicemail inbox.

I count myself as politically active, and indeed, I blog regularly about political issues. But the recent attacks on women’s rights to birth control, abortion, including Virginia’s new vaginal ultrasound law, have motivated me to become more involved than ever before. I know I’m not alone.

This is why I urge you to make a public statement in support of women’s rights. The Republican war on women is an ever-increasing part of their party platform. Progressives, in turn, need to become more aggressive as allies to women.

We have to fight back. We need every woman, and every male ally to stand up for our rights, publicly, and without shame.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Brittany-Ann Wick”

Get Your Activism On: Support Birth Control

It’s important to counter the howling protests of the arrogant old men who mistakenly believe they should have a say in women’s reproductive choices. Petitions are an easy way to do that. These are the ones I signed this morning afternoon:

From Planned Parenthood:

Tell Congress: Stop trying to block women’s access to Birth Control

From Ultra Violet:

Tell Congress: Hands off our birth control!

Sign and share!

Split in GOP Over Birth Control Mandate?

Last week, the Obama administration announced that employers will be required to cover birth control in their insurance plans–including religious hospitals and schools.

The GOP promptly threw a shit fit. Along with, you know, fundamentalist Christians and conservative Catholics.

Boehner is threatening to introduce legislation overturning the rule.

But wait! The GOP isn’t united on this. While mainstream news sources cream their pants over a Democrat in Congress that is also throwing a shit fit over the rule, (I’ll give you one guess who it is.) they’re ignoring the pro-choice segment of the Republican Party.

Republican Majority For Choice is calling for the GOP to stop pandering to the extreme minority in the party and cease their war on contraception.

“I think this week’s outrage over the Komen decision should be a warning to the Republican party about how quickly there was a mass outrage over further and further attacks on general women’s health,” Kellie Ferguson, executive director of Republican Majority for choice, told me Wednesday. “You could see the same backlash on attacks on contraception.”

“For the last number of years, we in the pro-choice community in general — and we specifically as Republicans — have been saying as this pandering to a sort of social conservative faction of voters continues, you’re going to see the line pushed further and further and further,” she said. “And we’re now crossing the line from discussion of when we should regulate abortion to when we should now regulate legal doctor-prescribed medications like birth control, which is woven in the fabric of society as an acceptable medication.”

Of course, they’re not getting press because the GOP isn’t going to listen. Along with the religious right pushing more and more of their agenda, this is an election year–and the prolonged primary ensures that the rhetoric is going to be very partisan. Let’s not forget, either, the GOP’s number one goal: to make President Obama a one-term President, by undermining everything that he attempts to do. This would be a perfect storm, save for the fact that going after birth control is crossing a very distinct line in the sand.

Americans like their birth control–and the vast majority of the country that uses it? Isn’t going to give it up anytime soon. If the GOP continues on this course (and they will) they will lose more and more women, and more and more of the 18-24 demographic.

The GOP is heading for a brick wall at a very high speed.

But naturally, President Obama is looking to compromise.

*headdesk*

 

To Those Who Don’t Understand the Decision Regarding Birth Control

Because I read HuffPo and Facebook comments, even though they drive me up the wall:

So, here’s how this new rule requiring full coverage of birth control works:

1. Insurance policies for all employers, save churches, must provide full coverage for birth control.

2. This is not violating religious freedom, or “keeping organizations from practicing there [sic] beliefs.” Women employed by a Catholic hospital, or a Baptist university aren’t there to “practice their beliefs.” They are working. For a paycheck. Also! For the benefits.

2a. An organization cannot be religious, or have beliefs–people have religious beliefs. Women that work at a Catholic hospital are just as free to practice their beliefs as before–they can take or not take birth control as they see fit. Many employees of these types of religious organizations do not have the same religious beliefs–it would be discriminatory to force a Baptist woman, for example, to follow the rules of Catholicism (to use my aunt as an example).

3. These religious organizations are not paying for the birth control–the employees pay for their own policies.

4. Let’s put this in a more abstract way–companies do not get to dictate the health care of their employees. Google cannot tell one of their programmers that they’re not going to offer an insurance plan that would cover surgeries. Zappo’s cannot decide that they’re not going to provide insurance policies that cover prescriptions. In short, employers do not, by and large, get to pick and choose which aspects of health care that their insurance policies will or will not cover.

5. Churches are exempt. Churches are exempt. CHURCHES ARE EXEMPT.

6. Employers have no goddamn business in the exam room with an employee and their doctor. Per-i-od.