Trump Happened

So, Trump happened. I kept hoping I’d wake up from this nightmare, or some superhero would swoop in and save us, but no, this is the reality. Donald Trump is sitting in the Oval Office at the White House.

Now what?

I’m gay, but I’m also white and male and I earn a comfortable living (aside: I’m willing to bet most in the “Gays for Trump” camp fit that description as well), so I enjoy a certain amount of privilege. If I were to put my head down, stay quiet and not cause any trouble for the next few years, I’d probably be–relatively speaking–OK.

Fuck that.

It’s not good enough. It should never be good enough, not for me, not for you, not for anyone. I plan to use whatever privilege I have to support and protect those who need it. And when I run out of privilege, I’ll keep going. This time is going to be a true test of our character. I don’t know what the fighting is going to entail, but I suspect there will be a lot it. We can’t allow our country to get less equal, less safe or less free. America has always been a work in progress. Even 18 months ago, when the idea of President Trump was a joke to almost everyone (even Donald himself), no one thought this country was perfect. But we had just witnessed an era of progress, despite unprecedented obstructionism from our historically useless Congress, dominated by a radicalized Republican party. I was excited to keep that progress going!

But that progress is going to have to wait; that radicalized party is in control, and led by a monster. For now we’ll be fighting tooth and nail just to keep what we have, to not take too many steps back.

So the first thing I’m going to do–the first of many, but we have to start somewhere–is to attend the Chicago version of the Women’s March tomorrow (or today, it’s almost midnight as I type this). Of his many bad qualities, Donald’s attitude–and resulting behavior–toward women is probably the most appalling. He views women as objects, either to be obtained like trophies or as a means to an end. They’re certainly not equals. Even without him, the Republican party had been chipping away at women’s health for years and more recently began ramping up that assault, attempting to obliterate Planned Parenthood.

It’s a small thing, but tomorrow (today) I’ll stand with my sisters and send a message.

If you come for them, you come for me, too.

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Their Honors

I want to take a break from ranting about politics, and post something a bit more cheerful. It’s a quick, true story.

Last night I went to a reception for alumni of the university where I went to undergrad. The event was in Manhattan, though the college is in Chicago.

At this event I met two older ladies (I’m guessing low 60s) and got to talking to them. This is their story. (Cue the Law & Order sound).

They were from New York City, and they were friends in high school. Based on their law school graduation date, they would have likely started college in the late 60s. They didn’t want to be secretaries. They told me they didn’t want to type things or get coffee for men. These smart, ambitious ladies wanted to be executives, they said. One of them wanted to go to law school. The other didn’t at first, but her friend convinced her. So they went off to Chicago together, to go to law school (the one affiliated with my university). They got their J.D. and returned to New York.

They worked for a number of years as public defenders. And now they are criminal court judges in Manhattan! (“Like on Law & Order!” I exclaimed.) In fact, they have their chambers right next to each other.

It was fun talking to them about what their jobs are like. One of them worked for mayors Koch and Dinkins and had some  funny stories about Mayor Koch. I learned that NYC criminal court is in session 7 days a week, and there really is night court. In fact, they told me how people used to make a date night out of it: go to dinner in Chinatown and then go watch night court! They said that was before most of the prostitution cases were moved to a different courthouse.

There are a couple things I like about their story. One, it’s a success story. They were ahead of their time and managed to break through the glass ceiling. Remember when they started college, things were like you see in “Mad Men” and sexism was rampant. And two, it’s a great story of friendship. These two have stuck together for more than 40 years, and that’s a pretty rare and amazing thing.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this story. I’m sure I’ll be back to complaining again soon. There’s always so much to complain about!

Thanks, Sweetheart

black and white image of female secretary with typewriterTwo posts in one day? Yes!

By now much hay has been made about Mitt Romney’s response about pay equity for women in this Tuesday’s debate. I’m going to make some more!

Throughout this discussion, I’ll be drawing directly from the official transcripts posted on the Commission on Presidential Debates’ website.

The question, posed first to Obama was “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” The President answered, and then Crowley followed up with: “Governor Romney, pay equity for women?”

What followed was nothing short of fascinating. It included lies, evasions, condescension and anachronisms. Let’s dig in.

Romney began his response with an anecdote having nothing to do with pay equity and which by most accounts was at best an exaggeration and at worst an outright lie.

An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I — and I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are — are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we — can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified?”

And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

Yes, this was the now infamous “binders full of women” line that exploded all over the Internet. But that isn’t the most important part. He wasn’t being honest! By his account, Romney was a hero, specifically seeking out qualified female candidates for his cabinet. The truth is, the process of placing females in his administration was begun even before the election, by a group known called Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP). MassGAP was formed to address the shortage of women in high-ranking government positions in the state, and they reached out to both candidates prior to the election. The binders full of women were real, though.

“There were actual binders involved,” Levin [chairperson of MassGAP at the time] said. “Big binders. They were big. It was before stuff was done, like it is now, electronically.”

Romney appointed his incoming (female) lieutenant governor Kerry Healey to work with the group, and he did make an effort to hire more women. In the beginning he increased the number of women in high-ranking positions. But by the end of his term, that number fell below what it was before he took office.

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