A Step in LGBTQ Representation, Crowds Fill the Streets as Women Fight Poland’s Abortion Ban, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams & What to Know About Jill Biden
An Instrumental Step in LGBTQ Representation
By Natasha Gilman
While the presidential race was the main focus for many Americans over the past few weeks, the state senate races were also happening, and are allowing for a more inclusive political world. Sarah McBride is a transgender female who recently won the Delaware state senate race. McBride beat republican candidate Steve Washington and is taking the seat of Democrat Harris McDowell. Throughout her political career, McBride worked with the secretary of LGBTQ advocacy group and the Human Rights Campaign. She was also a trainee in President Obama’s white house, being the first out transgender individual to do so.
In 2016, McBride was the first transgender induvidual to speak at a major political convential, adressing Democrats in Philadelphia. On the night of her election, Sarah tweeted, “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.” Sarah has always been an influential advocate for young people around her and is a vocal representitive for the LGBTQ community. Mark Keisling, the executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality described McBribe as, “smart, she’s a great public speaker and a great possibility model for young people.” Sarah’s election provides hope “that voters are increasingly rejecting the politics of bigotry in favor of candidates who stand for fairness and equality,” says President of the LGBTQ Victory Fund Annise Parker.
Sarah McBride is an extraordinary example of the need for increased LGBTQ representation in politics and in all social spheres as she is an inspiring, engaging, and powerful leader for people of all ages.
Michigan Senator Gary Peters Becomes The First U.S. Senator To Share Abortion Story
By Zac Cornell
With the imminent confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, the status of legalized abortion in the United States is at risk and on the top of many American’s minds. With so much at stake, United States Senator Gary Peters from Michigan became the first sitting senator in history to publicly share his personal experience with abortion. Sharing his difficult story is not only history-making, but also of crucial importance, as it highlights the fact that the freedom to get an abortion can sometimes be the difference between a woman’s life or death.
Senator Peters who spoke with Elle magazine, said “It’s a story of how gut-wrenching and complicated decisions can be related to reproductive health, a situation I went through with my first wife.” Peters explained his reasoning for sharing his story, “It’s important for folks to understand that these things happen to folks every day.” He continued, “I’ve always considered myself pro-choice and believe women should be able to make these decisions themselves, but when you live it in real life, you realize the significant impact it can have on a family.”
Senator Peters’ wife had been four months pregnant when her water broke and there was tragically no way to save the pregnancy. Their doctor had told them that she would have a natural miscarriage, however after three days of no miscarriage and her health being at grave risk, the couple tried to get an abortion to save his wife’s life. The doctor appealed to the hospital board to make an emergency exception and perform the abortion procedure, but due to politics, the doctor was denied. Fortunately, the couple had a friend on the board of another hospital and were able to get the life saving procedure in time.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL told Elle, “Senator Peters’s family is an example of countless stories across our nation of the injustice and harm that occurs when we allow politicians who know nothing about our lives to make decisions about our pregnancies.” Hogue continued, “In breaking the silence, he not only gives voice to what’s at stake, but he reminds us of our common humanity and quest for dignity and compassion when we fight for reproductive freedom for everybody.”
With the confirmation of Barrett, the new Supreme Court will lean conservative and put the fate of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion at risk. Considering that three quarters of the country believe that abortion should be legal, it is now more important than ever for prominent people to share their stories to show the necessity to keep American’s access to safe, legal abortions.
Senator Peters explained to Elle, “It’s important for folks who are willing to tell these stories to tell them, especially now.” He continued, “The new Supreme Court nominee could make a decision that will have major ramifications for reproductive health for women for decades to come. This is a pivotal moment for reproductive freedom.”
Peter’s story shows that it is valuable to hear a man’s perspective in this contentious debate, and recognize the many people affected by a woman’s access to healthcare.
You can read the Elle story in its entirety here:
Kamala Harris Sets a New Precedent for American Politics
By Marin Yearley
After over 200 years and 44 different presidencies, the United States will finally welcome a woman into The White House. As of 2021, former senator and California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, will make history as the first woman and woman of color to ever serve as Vice President. While women have begun to reach new heights in America’s modern political landscape, none have climbed higher than Harris whose groundbreaking appointment could mean big things for the future.
Born to immigrant parents who had lived through The Civil Rights Movement, Harris’s adolescence was pervaded by lessons of racial injustice. Though planted in her childhood, these seeds of passion for civil justice would continue to shape Harris’s life and career for many years. Notably, the vice presidency is not the first barrier Harris has broken, as she had already been the first black woman to serve in her roles as California Attorney General and Senator. In all of these positions, Harris’s policies and work possessed a strong focus on representing racial minorities and other marginalized groups in America, embodying the values that characterized her upbringing and background. Similarly, Harris attended the historically black Howard University and made several trips to India throughout her lifetime in order to remain closely connected to her family roots. In addition to these aspects of her identity, Harris finds a balance between her work and her husband and two stepchildren, reinforcing that women do not need to sacrifice their career for motherhood or vice versa.
Harris’s impressive political achievement will secure her name in the history books as she takes on the challenges of being the first female vice president. But what will this change mean for the future role of women in politics? Is the presidency the next milestone? Although we cannot yet be sure of the answers to these questions, it seems that Harris’s feat will unleash a new era of inclusion and diversity for American politics. As Harris herself said: “I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.”
Crowds Fill the Streets of Warsaw as Women Fight Against Poland’s Ban on Abortions
By Julia Carroll
On October 22, 2020, the Constitutional Tribunal declared the law authorizing abortions for malformed fetuses as unconstituational. This decision made by the court of the Poland, mostly comprised of judges appointed by the ruling party Law and Justice, effectively banned most official abortions carried out in Poland. The law posed a strict ban on terminatiing pregnancies with severe fetal abnormalities, the only type of abortion that was previously performed in Poland. Abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape and those threatening the life of women are still, however, formally legal.
Despite threats of prosecution and COVID-19 risks, thousands of outraged women flooded the streets of Warsaw in response to the ban. Many men and women displayed the characteristic, red lightning bolt associated with this movement vibrantly on their clothing and signs. While the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, a more recent march attracted a major police presence to the streets of Warsaw, raising concerns that right-wing activists might provoke violence.
The protests demonstrate a similar extreme outrage to that of Polish citizens during the Solidarity Movement in the 1980’s, resulting in the fall of communism in 1989. Protestors feel as though their hard-won freedoms of the post-communist era are slipping away under the rule of the autocratic Law and Justice Party. Many citizens feel as though new laws are beginning to chip away at their basic human rights.
Polish protester and graphic designer, Anna Rabczuck says, “I’m here because my sense of helplessness has reached its peak.” She and her boyfriend held a banner that reads “people before embryos.” Anna added: “I feel unimportant, I feel less and less like a Pole and I feel really sad about that.”
These gatherings full of over 430,000 people continue despite a surge in Polish coronavirus cases, with over 20,000 cases reported daily. Critics suggest that the abortion ruling was timed to distract the public from the government’s failure to prepare for the wave of infection that is now washing over the country.
These peaceful protests throughout Poland display the true power and determination of the people. Hope for pushback against the Law and Justice Party prevails as the people stand united against the recent ban on abortions. Men and women took action in the streets of Poland through vocal protests against such an invasion of human rights.
Stacey Abrams Has Been Fighting Voter Suppression for Years
By Avery Heilbrunn
Stacey Abrams, an American lawyer, voting rights activist, and author who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017, lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race to Republican government Brian Kemp by an extremely small margin.
Abrams who was a student at Spelman College confronted the Atlanta mayor, Maynard Jackson, for “not doing enough for young people,” and in addition, according to The Washington Post, she “fought for economic justice for her constituents.” Abrams was extremely passionate about fighting voter suppression which allowed her to become the influential activist she is today.
Before Abrams became a known name for being a voting promoter, she participated in the burning of the state flag which had a Confederate emblem in 1992. Furthermore in 2002, she was chosen as the deputy city attorney of Atlanta which prepared her to become a government official where she was exposed to the flaws in our democracy. From 2007 to 2017, she represented the 89th district for the Georgia House of Representatives. She preserved the Georgia HOPE Scholarship for low-income residents and worked on criminal justice reform on Georgia’s largest public transportation. Later she resigned in 2017 for her gubernatorial run. In 2017-2018 Abrams became the first Black woman major-party gubernatorial nominee ever in the United States. After unfortunately losing the battle she founded Fair Flight 2020 which is an organization that works to enhance voter protection teams. She also launched the Southern Economic Advancement Project (SEAP) that promotes economic prosperity in the region. Abrams is an extremely determined and passionate woman who wants to ensure every voice is heard.
What to Know About the Next First Lady: Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady-to-be, seems to do it all. She has been by president-elect Joe Biden’s side through his political career and been so supportive throughout their 40+ years of marriage. Together Jill and Joe have grown their family and have six grandchildren, who have shown support for their grandparents throughout the election process.
Here is what you need to know about Dr. Biden.
Jill Jacobs was born in New Jersey on June 3, 1951. She grew up in Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Delaware, and gained two Master’s degrees in English from Villanova and reading from West Chester University.
Not only has Jill Biden been both a college professor and teacher, but she wants to continue to teach even as the First lady of the United States. In her recent speech on night two of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, she said, “I have always loved the sounds of a classroom, the quiet that sparks with possibility just before students shuffle in, the murmur of ideas bouncing back and forth as we explore the world together, the laughter and tiny moments of surprise you find in materials you’ve taught a million times,” she says. She has always been passionate about teaching and even tweeted “Teaching is not what I do. It’s who I am.”
Jill recognized the need to support military families after having both a father and son deployed in Iraq. Both she and First Lady Michelle Obama worked together to help service members, veterans, and their families in many different ways to ensure their safety and success.
Jill Biden has also expressed the importance of education, emphasizing community colleges as “one of America’s best-kept secrets.” Back in 2010 Dr. Biden and former President Barack Obama hosted the first White House Summit on Community Colleges and in 2012, she traveled the country for a Community College to Career bus tour. On top of all of this, she has always prioritized breast cancer research and founded the Biden Breast Health Initiative in Delaware back in 1993.
Lastly, Jill Biden has a comprehensive sense of humor. One of her granddaughters says “I would say she’s not your average grandmother. She’s the grandmother that wakes you up at, what was it, 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve to go SoulCycle-ing.”