Awoman in Virginia was nearly raped this week, not by a rapist in a dark alley, but by the Virginia Legislature that nearly passed a bill that would have required a transvaginal ultrasound to obtain an abortion. In the same state, thousands of needy children linger in foster care while the Legislature allows adoption agencies to discriminate against qualified adoptive parents simply because they are gay or lesbian.
The United States of America is under attack by religious conservatives whose narrow view of America would have us return to the days of back-alley abortions, and who, if they had their way, would probably deport every gay and lesbian American to another country -- or at the very least, send us back into the closet of second-class citizenship. Perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement and, some might say, overly dramatic, but the way things have been going lately, I don't think I'm far from reality.
The recent debates about women's health care and contraception have exposed the true colors of the ultra-conservative movement in America. They talk a good game about job creation and economic growth -- at least they did until the nation realized that under President Barack Obama's stewardship, the economy has begun to recover. The real agenda is to get their folks elected so they can continue with the outdated culture wars of the 1990s and early 21st century, and establish a theocracy in this country. At least now, they are "out of the closet" with their true intentions.
Nowhere is this debate more evident than in the Republican primary. Mitt Romney, who used to be a moderate Republican from a liberal state, has taken such a hard right turn to get the nod that he is making Dick Cheney sound like a liberal. Rick Santorum, the homophobic and anti-woman warrior, has ascended to the lead in large part due to his crusade against gays and his insistence on the government regulating a woman's right to control her body.
Where is the outrage from the small-government groups on these recent events? The government should simply stay out of our private lives and worry about the things government should worry about -- national security, keeping our environment safe, keeping our money safe from banks and investment firms that nearly bankrupted our nation and assuring that affordable health care is available to all our citizens. Instead, the current political discourse is about whether Adam and Steve should be able to marry, whether Planned Parenthood should be punished for providing essential health care services to women, and whether women should have control over their own bodies.
The adoption spectacle in Virginia is especially troublesome. Scientific studies have shown that children raised in loving gay and lesbian households do just as well, and in some cases even better, than children raised in straight households. The Ozzie and Harriet model of the American family is no longer representative of how American families live. Our families today are as diverse as the nation we now are. Yet, despite this, Virginia now will ban these deserving children from having a home. What are these folks thinking?
Across the Potomac in Maryland, that state is on the threshold of becoming the eighth one to approve marriage equality for gays and lesbians. How can two sides of a riverbank be so different in their approach to civil rights? If I lived in Virginia, I'd be trying to get over to Maryland pronto! Maybe there is something in the water on the Virginia side of the Potomac that causes these folks to act this way.
We are on the threshold of a new era of equality in our country for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. As more states approve same-sex marriage, as court after court overturns anti-equality laws, and as gay and lesbian people serve openly in our military, it is only a matter of time before the debates of today's generation will fade. Just as we now shake our heads and wonder how there could have been different water fountains for whites and blacks, our grandchildren will shake their heads in bewilderment about the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in this country. My husband Harry and I see this evolution firsthand in our own families and with our friends. As more people get to know openly gay people, they begin to understand the struggle for fairness and equal rights that we demand and become allies in our struggle for equality.
Women's rights in America have come a long way in the last century. In a world where women live behind a veil or are forbidden to drive, our country sets the example of women as equals. Women's access to health care and control over their bodies is the last frontier of this natural evolution.
Let's not allow these rights to be rolled back to the days when women had to travel miles and days, or be subjected to wire hanger abortions, to make the most basic of health care decisions about their own bodies.
Rudy Molinet is a real estate broker, co-owner of Marquis Properties Realty in Key West and a community and human rights activist. He lives in Old Town with Harry Hoehn, his spouse of 19 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.