When President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in the spring of 2016, I personally breathed a sigh of relief.
He would take the place of the ultra-conservative Antonin Scalia. I could actually feel the court shifting.
Finally, those rights that matter so much to me – the right to choose, the ability to marry who you want, the dignity of using the restroom that conforms with your gender – felt all that more secure.
Then, the unthinkable (because I was a bit too naïve) happened.
The nomination just sat there for an unprecedented 293 days.
“OK, “I thought. “No big deal.”
See, Garland is a moderate. Once Hillary Clinton won, she would end up nominating someone even more liberal.
And I held onto that optimism, even after Donald Trump won the electoral college after likely colluding with Russia.
I even stayed optimistic after he nominated the ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch.
Instead of losing my mind, I decided that it wasn’t a big deal. So, they filled Scalia’s seat with Gorsuch. No biggie.
The court would just go back to how it had been. We basically just swapped a conservative for a conservative.
But now, my eternal optimism is dimming a bit.
If pushed through, Kavanaugh has the ability to single-handedly shift the entire country. His vote (or the vote of whoever replaces him after the horrific sexual assault allegations came to light), could deal quite a blow to humanists and everyone else who cares about individual rights.
I’m far from an alarmist. Remember, I’m an eternal optimist, and even I’m terrified.
Roe v. Wade
The Religious Right is openly hostile to women, especially when it comes to our right to an abortion. Apparently, they would much rather women be forced into the back alleys, where many died.
See, this is the truth of the matter.
Abortions will not end if Roe v. Wade is decimated.
SAFE abortions will end.
And just how dangerous are illegal abortions?
Fast forward to today. Now, abortions are incredibly safe, and complications are rare. That’s what Roe. v. Wade gave women.
The ability to have a safe medical procedure.
Now enter the “honorable” Judge Kavanaugh.
He claims that Roe. V. Wade is settled law, but make no mistake. Those words ring hollow when you look at his voting record.
Take the dissent he wrote after a DC Circuit Court ruled that an undocumented immigrated teenager who was being held in detention should be able to get an abortion.
He didn’t think the law was settled then.
He wrote that, "the government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion."
No, that wasn’t a dissent from the 1980s. It was last year.
Think about that for a second. Just last year, a man who wants to serve on the Supreme Court was trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade.
People can argue that she was an immigrant and not allowed the same rights that U.S. citizens have.
People can argue that, but it doesn’t ring true. Roe v. Wade doesn’t use the word “citizen.”
Instead, it uses “person.”
No matter how much people want to argue to the contrary, immigrants are people, too.
With Kavanaugh’s obvious contempt for Roe v. Wade, just imagine what will happen if he gets the chance to team up with the court’s conservative judges. It will be a huge blow to women’s rights.
Obergefell vs. Hodges
Obergefell vs. Hodges changed my life.
I was already technically married to my wife by then. She works for the federal government, and thanks to LGBT icon Edie Windsor, the Defense of Marriage Act that prevented me from getting married was gutted.
When that happened, President Obama declared that federal employees could carry their same-sex partners on their insurance policies.
So, my wife and I hopped on a plane to New York and exchanged vows.
That marriage gave me health insurance, but nothing else.
I even jokingly referred to it as my “insurance ceremony.”
My wife and I still had to file separate taxes.
I still worried about what would happen if one of us was in the hospital.
See, I was “married”, but all I got out of it was a lousy insurance card.
Then, Obergefell v. Hodges happened, and I was just like everyone else. My marriage was real in the eyes of the law.
Now, my wife and I have the same rights as any other married couple, gay or straight.
But now, the Supreme Court that granted me those rights is changing.
Do I think that Obergefell v. Hodges will get completely overturned?
I’m not a legal scholar, but no, I don’t.
Instead, I think that the Supreme Court will do what it can to chip away at my rights one by one. It will be like HB 1523 all over again. They’ll claim religious freedom while stripping away the freedoms I hold dear.
But who knows? Maybe it will be worse than I think.
Brett Kavanaugh won’t even answer basic questions about the ruling.
I don’t know what will happen, and I’m terrified to find out.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
So far, much of the news about Kavanaugh has been about abortion and LGBT rights, and because of that, we’ve practically ignored what he would do to our disabled population.
Fortunately, we have U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth to remind us that this issue cannot be ignored.
After Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, she wrote a piece for Time that everyone should read.
She outlined her issues with Kavanaugh’s rulings in:
Each of these cases is different, but they share a common theme. When it comes to people with disabilities, Kavanaugh has very little concern. He favors corporations over people, and that could have a huge impact on the American with Disabilities Act.
Right now, people can barely navigate a wheelchair down the streets in Jackson because they are in such poor shape.
Can we live with things getting even worse?
What Can We Do?
As I told you before, I’m an optimist. Only now, I’m not a head in the sand optimist. I know that we can get this country back, but not if we stay silent.
So, this is what I’m personally doing.
I’m calling my senators.
I’m donating to campaigns for candidates that share humanist views, even if they aren’t located in my state.
I am paying for my news. The mainstream media is the only place that is keeping us informed, and we have to pay so they can continue to provide in-depth reporting.
I am attending political events and making my voice heard.
Most importantly, I am letting people find out who I am and what my views are.
I am no longer afraid to tell people I am a lesbian.
I am no longer afraid to tell people that I’m a humanist.
I am no longer afraid to tell people that I believe every woman should have the right to choose.
And more than anything, I am never going to be afraid to let everyone who can hear me know that I will NEVER think it is OK for someone who has been accused of sexual assault to serve on the Supreme Court until those allegations are investigated.
The calendar keeps moving forward. Let’s not let our rights roll backward.
Are you with me?