Yesterday was a slow day for me. I had a long day at work and came home immediately to take a nap. When I woke up, however, the Internet was in an uproar. Not only was the Supreme Court of the USA (SCOTUS) due to hand down their rulings on the Defence Against Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, Wendy Davis, a Texas senator, was in a struggle with the Senate to filibuster an anti-abortion bill that would have affected thousands of women in Texas. It was a time of history and change for the USA, and I was honoured to be able to watch it being made.
Today, SCOTUS overturned DOMA and Proposition 8. The Texas bill was successfully filibustered, even after gross negligence by the liberal news media (CNN was discussing how many calories were in a muffin at the time I was watching the Texas Senate Livestream) and some hamfisted last minute changing of the voting rules in the Senate that didn’t go through. None of this directly affects me as a Canadian, but it sure as hell affects me as a woman and as a gay person. This is the stuff that will ensure my rights, and the rights of millions of others like me.
I had a brief conversation last night on Twitter with an American friend of mine, in which she questioned the far-reaching effects of these decisions. And the thing is, no, U.S. policy doesn’t affect Canadian policy. We have legal abortion and no law in the Criminal Code restricting it, and that protects our right to choose, currently. We have national marriage equality laws. But though we do, now – we may not in the future. It’s the push of decisions made in countries that influence us that keep my hope alive for these debates. It’s the cheers of the people in the Texas Senate, and the voices of millions of people around the world that support equality that affects us in other countries and inspires change here.
We have a Conservative Prime Minister who has decided not to touch these issues in Canada right now. However, he has no qualms about doing basically whatever he wants when it comes to Aboriginal land and rights, to name one debate raging here in Canada, which doesn’t leave me much hope that he won’t open these issues back up for debate. And this time, Canada might lose. We might have to deal with the scary proposition of being second-class citizens without the right to choose what happens to our bodies or be married to the people we love. That’s why this stuff is important – rights are never guaranteed.
And one voice can be far-reaching. I had never heard of Wendy Davis before last night, but now, she’s one of my heroes. She stood for just over 12 hours without bathroom breaks, food, water, or the ability to sit down because those were the rules of speaking in the Senate. She pushed the vote so that the bill would die and women’s rights would prevail. And she’s inspiring, because it reminds me that my rights can’t be taken for granted. I am still a gay woman in the world. I owe it to other people like me, and those who aren’t like me, to pay attention to these debates and add my voice to the chorus calling for equality.
We don’t live in a bubble. We can’t pretend we do. The world needs to pay attention to the USA today.
We can’t afford not to – because when we need people to add their support to us, we want them there like we were there for our neighbours.
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