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: Stand Up For Gay Marriage

I got an e-mail from the Courage Campaign this morning–they’re gearing up for the next stage in the fight for marriage equality: Perry v. Brown is going to the Supreme Court.

Here is where you can donate to fund the campaign. Check this out, though: when I got the e-mail, CC was $5,343 away from their goal of $45,000. I just checked their page, and not only have they made enough, they’ve set a new goal of $50,000 and are less than one thousand away from meeting that goal as well!

If you can’t afford to donate, never fear–activism is about much more than raising money.

See this snippet from the e-mail I received from the Courage Campaign:

What are we going to do with those contributions? Well, some people think this is all up to to the lawyers in the courtroom… not so! Legal experts all agree: Supreme Court Justices read the newspaper, watch TV, and take stock of the nation. That’s why we need your support to move the polling numbers on marriage equality, get heartwarming stories of love and commitment between same-sex couples out in the news, and continue to be the #1 place for coverage of the Prop 8 trial on the web. It’s the best thing we can do to ensure the final nail in the coffin for Prop 8.”

If you can’t afford to donate, then help get the message out. Flood the blogosphere with posts supporting marriage equality. Write letters to newspapers across the nation. In other words, make sure that when the justices of the Supreme Court “take stock of the nation” be sure that overwhelming support for equality is what they see.

Check out my contribution here if you need inspiration. Now-let’s get our activism on!

We did it!

I feel like dancing and singing that little song from Dora the Explorer.

This morning, the WKU Benefits Committee met to vote on adding domestic partnership benefits (again).

It passed.

It’s acknowledged.

It’s official.

Wow. I’m so happy I hardly know what to say! I, along with many, many other amazing people here at Western Kentucky University have been mobilizing our butts off for the past several weeks. This morning was to be a demonstration to demand equal benefits for our LGBT faculty and staff. Instead, it was a celebration.

There was tears and hugs and singing. It was a beautiful sight, and it was unbelievably gratifying for our work to have paid off. We’re celebrating tonight at a local hangout, Greener Groundz.

I can’t wait to update more thoroughly on what’s been going on. Stay tuned! It’s a tale none will soon forget! I’m resting for a bit, and then I’m off to celebrate!

Have a GOOD Friday!

Edit: As per my blog note, I’ve been so busy, but I will share the details in another post!

Student Government and Disability Access

I’m excited to say that Colton Jessie and Kendrick Bryan have won the Student Government Association election for President and Executive Vice-President respectively, at WKU.  Kendrick was running for re-election, and Colton was running for his first term. What has me so excited about this is that one of the issues that Colton ran on was increasing disability access on campus (not to mention he supports domestic partnership benefits for WKU employees, woot!). Like I pointed out in this post, Western’s campus is pretty inaccessible, because of its location on a huge hill, and because many buildings weren’t constructed with the differently-abled in mind.

Western’s student government boasts of being the most active in the state—but it has a lot of improving to do.  1,209 votes were cast in this election, and considering we have many, many more students than this (about 18,000 when you take our satellite campuses into consideration), that’s not a lot. Student government has a similar reputation as politics and government in general—that it’s a useless body, with little accomplishment, and its members involved solely for personal interest. SGA’s budget is significant—over $100k. Most of it goes to student organizations on campus, to fund whatever it is those organizations are doing, with a limit of $500 each. But there’s a lot of money that can be spent however the student Senate wants—including adding ramps, curb cuts, or whatever.

I suspect, however, that most of their effort in regards to this issue will be meeting with university officials, and passing resolutions. I was in SGA for two years, and served in several different positions, and SGA has a lot of influence. Just bringing this issue up with administrators can have a huge impact. SGA can also work with University Senate—the faculty’s version of SGA—to bring up issues and get things done. But of course speaking with officials shouldn’t be the only things done–talking to differently abled students about their experiences on campus, bringing awareness to this issue, and lobbying Frankfort for more aid should also be priorities.

I spoke with Colton during the election, after he came to speak at the Student Identity Outreach meeting on campus, and he’s very eager to work on this issue. We’re supposed to meet soon, to get the ball rolling. Updates will be posted as soon as any developments occur.