The Recent LGBTQ Supreme Court Ruling Was a Waste of Time and Taxpayer Dollars

The purpose of the Supreme Court is to parse our laws and determine the direction that they should take. Its purpose is not to cater to an individual’s beliefs.

On Monday, a bullshit case was brought to the nation’s highest court. Lorie Smith, a wedding website designer from Colorado sued for the right to only work with heterosexual couples. Her claim came via her faith.

Obviously, as a business owner, Ms. Smith has the right to decide which customers she works with. She also has the right to be open and free in her beliefs. By the same turn, an engaged couple has the right to determine which vendors they work with in regard to their big day.

There are two problems here:

  1. The situation that was presented to the court is purely hypothetical. She isn’t open for business yet.
  2. It harkens back to the days in which the following sign appeared on the doorway of a business: No (enter ethnicity or racial background here) allowed. In this case, the (digital) sign says LGBTQ. I want to believe that this idea is in the past, but I know better.

This was nothing more than a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. In an effort to legitimize her own prejudice, she took space away from a real case that could affect our future as a country.

This is shameful. We are better than this, I know we are. Unfortunately, there are people like Lorie Smith who keep us in the past instead of moving forward.

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Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships Book Review

Our friends are more than our chosen family. They are our support system and the ones we turn to in our hour of need.

For more than fifty years, respected NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg palled around with the late Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Their half-a-century friendship is detailed in Totenberg’s new memoir, Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships.

The book tells a dual narrative. It reveals the real women behind the powerhouse figures while reminding the reader of the barriers they broke along the way. Through professional highs and personal sorrows, Totenberg and Ginsburg were as thick as thieves.

The book is ok. Though there is no denying that both women made history and continue to inspire us today. The problem is that the story is slow. Though I did finish it, I was left with an eh feeling.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships is available wherever books are sold.

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Yeshiva University Should be Forced to Recognize and Legitimize its LGBTQ Student Organization

Religion is a beautiful thing. It can bring people together, create communities, and ensure that traditions are passed on to the next generation. It can also be used as an excuse to exclude, murder, and destroy people and ideas seen as “other”.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled that in the Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance case that in the short term, the university does not have to recognize its LGBTQ student organization. While the school was waiting for the decision to come down, the administration chose to suspend all student-led clubs.

According to a survey released last year, only 22% of Americans attend religious services of any kind. In this same survey, 31% have never prayed in a formal setting.

It goes without saying that the institution’s cultural and academic foundation is based on traditional Jewish values and teachings. If a particular student is not happy, they are free to continue their education elsewhere.

I disagree with the resolution (Unorthodox podcast talks about it at 20:07). Religion is well and good. But if it is so stuck in the past that modernity and the march toward equality are ignored, that is a problem. If faith leaders want to increase attendance in the various houses of worship, they cannot bury their heads in the sand. This is why people walk away from organized religion. They feel disrespected, ignored, or both.

It’s akin to throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I don’t get it.

I have not attended Saturday morning Shabbat services in more than twenty years. When I do go to services (which are mostly on the high holidays at my parent’s temple), I am turned off by the lack of acknowledgment of women within the prayer book. I know there are other synagogues that are more egalitarian. But, in this case, I wish that I was seen and respected within the liturgy.

Inclusion and respect is the only way to increase participation in formal religious practice and live up to the ideals set up by our founders. I think it would behoove Yeshiva University administrators to rethink the choice they have made.

Flashback Friday: Loving (2016)

Progress does not always come from legislation. It comes from human beings who stand up for themselves and what they believe in.

The 2016 film, Loving, is based on the true story of the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia.

In the 1960s, Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga) are young newlyweds. The problem is that Richard was White and Mildred was Black. In many parts of this country at the time, interracial marriage was illegal. After their arrest, they fought for their right to stay married and to be recognized as a married couple.

This movie is so good. It tugs at your heartstrings, makes you believe in love, and makes you grateful for the sacrifices Richard and Mildred made.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Domestic Supply of Infants is Not That Hard to Understand

The difference between being seen as breeding stock and a fully-fledged human being with responsibilities, dreams, ambitions, etc comes down to one word: rights.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito made a very damning and unnerving statement in the body of the leaked draft of the opinion that could potentially overturn Roe V. Wade. Buried in the footnotes is a quote from a 2002 CDC report about adoption within the United States.

“Whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent.”

I’m going to let NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the late George Carlin take it from here.

What bothers me are two things. The first thing is that it opens the door to a slippery slope. Abortion is low-hanging fruit to these people. What’s next? Losing access to birth control? Taking away the ability to marry for LGBTQ couples and biracial couples? Undoing the 19th amendment and the 14th amendment?

The second thing is that this opinion is based on rulings that are centuries old. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that they are grasping at straws, finding any legal theory (even the archaic ones) that they believe will support their cause.

Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about SCOTUS judges. Their appointments are for life. But we can vote for Democrats at every level. They are the only ones who are both working for the people of this nation and fighting for the freedoms that we all hold dear.

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Our Greatest Fears Have Come to Pass: Roe V. Wade is About to be Overturned

Last night, a figurative bomb was dropped on the nation.

A draft of a Supreme Court ruling was released. A majority of the justices have voted to overturn Roe V. Wade. Though this is only a draft and not the final decision, it is enough to raise alarm bells.

Most Americans support a woman/pregnant person’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies and their future. The minority who would ban the procedure in all forms do not care about their fellow citizens. They only care about pushing their belief on the rest of us, whether we like it or not.

I am going to end this post with a video from the MeidasTouch podcast. Gilead is no longer fiction, it is becoming our reality.

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Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality Book Review

No social movement that aims to create a better world is without its internal struggle. While the men are at the forefront, it is often the women who do the work. But few are given the spotlight and the respect they deserve.

The late Constance Baker Motley was one of these women. Her story is told in the new biography Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality. Written by Tomiko Brown-Nagin, it was published in January. Born to immigrants from the Caribbean in 1921, she came of age in an era in which both her gender and her skin color created barriers. Instead of just submitting to these barriers, she broke them. After graduating from law school, she was the only female on staff working for the legal team of the NAACP under the leadership of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Balancing work, marriage, and motherhood, Baker Motley smashed both Jim Crow to bits and created a large crack in the glass ceiling. Her career contained a lot of the firsts: the first African-American woman who was a state Senator in NY and the federal judiciary, and the first woman elected as Manhattan Borough President.

As a product of the American education system, I am utterly dismayed that she is not a household name. She was not just a groundbreaker, but a rule breaker. These days, it is perfectly normal for a woman to have the figurative balls of her job, her marriage, and her children in the air at the same time. But not back then. In fighting for the rights of both women and Black Americans, she paved the way for equality that has become the norm and unfortunately, still has to be fought for.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality is available wherever books are sold.

This Week in American Women: Ketanji Brown Jackson, Karen Berg, and Madeleine Albright

Despite what history (and some men) may say, women are resourceful, intelligent, and more than capable. We just need the opportunity to prove ourselves.

Last week, America lost one of her giants in both history and politics. Madeleine Albright passed away at the age of 84. Appointed to the role of Secretary of State by former President Bill Clinton in 1997, she was the first woman to hold that position. Born to Holocaust survivors who fled Soviet-era Czechoslovakia in 1949, she did not learn that her family was Jewish until she was in her golden years. She will be remembered not just for the crack she left in the glass ceiling, but for her fight for peace and understanding between the nations.

May her memory be a blessing. Z”L

For the last week or so, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has been grilled by members of Congress in regards to her potentially taking over the seat of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer when he retires at the end of this term. Judge Jackson is more than qualified for the position. To say that some members of the Republican Party have been outrageous in their conduct towards her is an understatement. Instead of asking genuine questions about her work experience, they are once more appealing to their base by picking at literal straws.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, the subject of abortion has come up again in the cruelest of manners. Standing up for women and other possibly pregnant persons is State Senator Karen Berg. As the only female and the only doctor on the committee, she pointed out how ridiculous and dangerous (starts at 40:51) the limits on abortion are.

It’s time that we listen not just to these women, but to all women. We have voices, we have opinions, and it’s about dam time we are given our due.

True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us Book Review

Reality television, whether we like it or not, is here to stay. It is a genre that has revolutionized television and forced creative teams to up their game.

True Story: What Reality TV Says About Us, By Danielle J. Lindemann, was published last month. Describing what she calls a “funhouse mirror”, she explores how this category of television both reveals our humanity and possibilities while relying on stereotypes to tell stories. Intermingling pop culture and academic research, it is a thorough look at how this type of small-screen entertainment reflects our general culture, warts and all.

I loved this book. She opens it by posing a question that she asks her students at the beginning of each semester. She asks them to make two columns. The first contains a list of current Supreme Court judges. The second contains the names of the members of the Kardashian family. It doesn’t take a brainiac to figure out which was longer.

As far as I am concerned, this tells me everything about where we are at as a society. There is nothing wrong with a “guilty pleasure” or watching a program that does not require a lot of thinking after a long day. However, there is something wrong when narratives rely on expected images of some people that are based on class, gender, or race. I’m not a huge fan of reality shows (as any regular reader of this blog knows), but I wish there was a bit more nuance in the tales that are being told.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Two Giant Steps Forward and One Step Back: Ketanji Brown Jackson and the Ten Year Anniversary of the Homicide of Trayvon Martin

One of the most potent and universal quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. is as follows:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Last Saturday, February 26th, was the ten-year anniversary of the murder of Trayvon Martin. Had his killer (who shall not be named on the blog) not decided to take the law into his own hands, young Mr. Martin would be 27. He might have graduated from high school and college, started a successful career, and perhaps said “I do” by now. But he will forever remain 17, a promising life full of possibilities that we can speak of in a hypothetical manner.

Though we cannot bring Travyon back to life or undo the acquittal of the man who was responsible for his killing, we can see look to our present and see where progress has been made. The men responsible for the executions of both George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of their respective crimes.

During the 2022 Presidential election, President Biden promised to nominate an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. On February 25th, he kept his promise. After Justice Stephen Breyer announced his upcoming retirement, Ketanji Brown Jackson was introduced to the country as his replacement.

This is one GIANT step forward. As both a woman and a person of color, Brown Jackson, represents the true nature and the potential of this nation. With March being Women’s History Month and this coming Tuesday being International Women’s Day, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our wins and identify where there is more work to be done.

Of course, not everyone welcomed her with open arms. Her legal abilities and history were questioned by some Republicans (no surprise there). The obvious inquiry is if Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh had to face the same criticism. Probably not. My hope and prayer is that not only will she sit on the highest court of the land, but also that she will help to create the America that we know is possible.

May the memory of Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, etc, be a blessing and a reminder of how far we need to go.

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