By Leea Pronovost
First let’s get the disclosure out of the way:
DISCLOSURE: This is my opinion and doesn’t reflect upon the Gender Advocacy Project’s point of view nor the point of view by the North County LGBTQ Resource Center. It is solely my standing on what has happened to one of the greatest branches of a democratic government in the world.
If you do not know what is going on at this point in time then you are sleeping and simply not aware of your surroundings. Last week we lost one person a giant among us, the Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Let me tell you a little about this giant of a woman, first of all she is a little woman but yet she stands tall when it comes to equal rights for women.
Long before she became a Supreme Court Justice, she was a simple lawyer whom happened to be a giant among lawyers. She argued in front of the Supreme Court beginning in 1971 for equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. She had 5 cases that she brought in front of them which eventually led to the end of forthright discrimination against women. She was not the first to use the Fourteenth Amendment for the argument of achieving equal protection.
It was her legal theories, her brilliant litigation, and her sheer determination that won the battles in front of the Supreme Court.
Here is a link to the Fourteenth Amendment that encompasses the changes she argued about. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendment/amendment-xiv
Back in 1971 women’s equality was something that was unconceived. Anything that even remotely considered equality for women was thought of as being absurd. Ginsburg herself, was at the top of her class at Harvard and yet she could not get a job after her graduation. In order to achieve her goal for the argument of equality she had to shatter the gender stereotypes, which she did in a couple of cases where she argued a man could receive military benefits from his wife who was serving in the Air Force, and again for another guy who needed to receive Social Security benefits from his wife. In both of these cases it was expected that the man should be the primary provider and not the woman.
Fast forward to 1996, when she was a sitting Justice on the Supreme Court, in the case of United States v. Virginia Military Academy, Justice Ginsburg wrote for the court’s majority that “exacting scrutiny” must be applied to any law that treats women differently than men. She also wrote that any law that “denies to women, simply because they are women, full citizenship stature - equal opportunity to aspire, achieve, participate in and contribute to society” violated the equal protection Clause.
Once this was cemented into law it wasn’t long before that same argument was used for other clauses other than race and gender such as LGBTQ rights and the first victory using that same argument was in 1996 ruling of Romer v. Evans overturning laws around the country that made gay sex a crime. It was also that same argument that was used again in the Obergefell v. Hodges, which is when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. Even again in this year’s battle of Bostock v. Clayton County which banned discrimination against LGBTQ workers, they used a similar argument.
Now of course comes the scary part, what happens now that this giant of a person has finally lost her struggle with cancer? So far, we know for sure Donald Trump is going to nominate someone, he has clearly stated that. We also know that the leader of the senate, Mitch McConnell has said he will hold a vote to confirm the nomination. We currently know this person, Amy Coney Barrett will be, that person. I have read from both sides of this issue and this next part of the blog is all about her and what I personally think will happen should she be confirmed.
Any Coney Barrett belongs to a right-wing Christian group called the “People of Praise” now one of the first things I want to say here is (and I’m not religious) this organization according to organizational charts and research doesn’t appear to be a cult as some would make you believe. These people are very intelligent, not at all cult like, and do not follow blindly. They make a conscious decision to be a part of this group based upon their belief system they were raised with, and I in no way am saying this is a bad thing. “People of Praise is not a church nor a particular religious sect, they are what some would call a “Covenant Community”, which is made up of all different types of religious sect within the Christian community. These are made up of Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Methodist, Pentecostals, and nondenominational Christians. There is one aspect of the group that people have been harping on, that is the fact that they choose a “head” of their household now that being said they have some households made up of all women and some made up of all men and some that are families and sometimes a single person is placed with a family.
All members of the group belong to their own church and are not asked to follow any particular doctrine of Christianity. Women are in any position of power within the organization, that kind of goes without asking. In the Catholic religion women are not permitted to hold a position of power. Through my own research that I’ve done on the organization, I’ve not found them to be saying anything about women being subservient to men, contrary to what some really far left would have you believe. Yes, at one time in the history of the organization what is known now as “woman leader” was once known as the “handmaid” this term was chosen because of Mary the Mother of Jesus referred to herself as the “handmaid of the Lord”, it was not chosen to demean women but to raise them up to be seen as the mother of Jesus. Women are actually encouraged to become very educated within the community.
Her religious beliefs and background or organization that she has affiliated herself with is not what worries me about her. I know she is a very well educated person and that she has degrees in the subject of law and is also very well deserved of those degrees she has earned, I really do respect her for how hard she has had to work to prove herself in this field of law, as it has been mostly dominated by men for the most part. Women as a whole have had to work twice as hard as their male counterpart in order to achieve that kind of notoriety. She is well deserved all the respect that comes with her position. She has said in previous confirmation hearings that she would follow the letter of the law, and the letter of the constitution, I really do believe this is truly what she will do. Which is what is bringing me to my true fear, and we will now get into that now.
One thing that I have earned over the many years of my life and through my very own experiences, is that two people can see the same thing and report it very differently and yet they both believe whole heartedly that what they are saying is the absolute truth. This is their truth about what they have interpreted through their very own perception of events. This is when people perceive something with their own eyes. So, when it comes to something that is written it leaves it wide open as to who is interpreting that word. For instance, most conservative have a belief that sex is something that you are identified as from the moment you are born. This cannot be changed no matter what. As myself being a “Two Spirit” person, or also what our western civilization calls a transgender woman do not believe this, so when I read the word sex discrimination, in a case of a woman being discriminated by her employer, what is that word “sex” based upon? Whose interpretation of sex should we be using if it is a transgender woman? If it is Amy Coney Barrett, I believe based upon her cozy alliances with organizations such as the American Family Association, which was behind Target’s bathroom boycott, and the American Principles Project, which recently aired anti-trans ads in Michigan, backed her nomination in 2018, in part because they believe she would help them chip away at LGBTQ+ equality. She also has ties to Alliance Defending Freedom, which defended anti-gay Colorado baker Jack Phillips in a 2018 Supreme Court case and has authored anti-trans bathroom bills in dozens of the U.S. states.
Given her alliances with those organizations I am truly fearful that the arguments used in the cases which I mentioned in the section of this blog about RBG, Romer v. Evans, Obergefell v. Hodges, and Bostock v. Clayton County will be overturned based upon those arguments and her viewpoint of what sex is understood to be from that perspective. I do believe that if she does get confirmed and she cannot overturn these rulings then she will argue the fact that this should be something that each and every individual state should and will be able to either decide individually, and this will limit our ability as an out LGBTQIA+ person to travel freely around our own country.
Our rulings for the LGBTQIA+ community are not the only ones in jeopardy with this, women. One of the biggest cases I think that she will tackle first and foremost will be Roe v. Wade, I don’t think she will be able to overturn it but like I said above she will work on it to the point to allow each individual state to decide on if not abortion in and of itself but the concept of when an abortion is legal and when it is not. Some of the states have passed laws currently saying anything past the 6th week can be considered murder and have the doctor and patient be held accountable to that murder. I do believe given the fact she will not be able to strike down the precedent that has already been set but under the constitution she would argue the individual states ability to mandate its own law regarding the legality of when it could be performed. Let me tell you this would make almost every abortion an act of murder as most women don’t even know until the 6th week.
The other big one that comes to mind about her overturning something the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obama Care. If she is confirmed this form of guidance for insurance companies will be deemed unconstitutional. She has already said as much in one of her dissents that she had written already. If this were to happen then over 100 million people will be left without insurance. Especially now with this whole Covid-19 pandemic going on and many f us already unemployed and not having insurance. For those that are covered under a large company that is self-insured they will be ok for the first year after the teardown but after that being self-insured will be too expensive for most companies, and they will be forced to get some lowly coverage for their employees that is not as good as being self-insured policy would have been. However, for the average person this would be an almost immediate effect of not having insurance. This would cause for insurance rates to go up in both the short term and long term, as back prior to the ACA who paid for the persons that had no insurance. They were still served by some hospitals, the hospitals would then overcharge the insurance companies who in turn pass those charges onto the individual whom is the insured, so in the long run it would cost each individual who is insured more money.
In my opinion none of these scenarios are positive for either our economy nor our country. This is why it is imperative for all people to get out and vote. From this article you can only imagine how I will vote but please be advised should you be a human wanting to still reside in this country you need to vote. I do believe will need to vote on the liberal side of the tickets in order to restore our democracy. As I stated above these are only a few things at stake here in this election, there are many more coming down the line such as the Religious Freedom Act coming down the pipeline. That is for another blog later on.