Stop Calling Abortion Murder

The annual March for Life is currently ongoing…I have been many times, and, generally speaking, I agree with many of the political goals of those in attendance. In my opinion, abortion is a fundamentally bad thing, and if we correctly structured our society, we could generally do without it.

Every time I attend the March though, I bristle at a single word: Murder. Murder is vicious. It is intent. Revenge. The most hateful human act. In much of America, committing Murder is cause for the state to execute you. Attempted murder is cause for lethal self-defense or Samaritan action.

These are not appropriate descriptions or reactions to the modern reality of abortion.

Murder is not a terrified 19-year-old girl doing something that society has given her a right and reason to do. Murder is not women who choose to have an abortion because there’s no financial safety net for her potential child. Murder is not a woman who has been raped choosing out of confusion, fear, and traumatic stress to end a pregnancy.

I am not asking you to soften your stance. My opinion is that abortion should and must be opposed. I am asking you to soften your tone, and to consider the long-term implications of telling a young woman she has committed murder.

I want to end with one thought: If we are not compassionate after a first abortion, are we complicit in a potential second one?

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The Sarcastic Response Putin Deserves

PUTIN: “No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.”

PUTIN: “Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.”

PUTIN: “Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force” ….. “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

OH REALLY?

More to come…

Un(der)employed? Saving up? Here’s 3 things you can do right now with your Internet connection:

Everyone loves an extra paycheck. Last year, when I had a couple weeks off between jobs, I wanted to keep the cash flowing. I came across a few surprising ideas for ways to make money in the interim. Whether you’re unemployed, underemployed, or saving up for something, here’s a few options you might not have thought of:

Teach English Over Skype 

Whether you set it up on your own via a person-to-person service or through a more established English online school, you can make money just speaking English with another person. Bonus points if you know a foreign language, but most of the time, potential students already speak well enough to conduct a whole lesson in English.  Expect about $20-30 for every 50-minute session. You may make a friend on the other side of the world, as well as an extra paycheck or two.

Do Contract Work Online 

Use sites like Odesk.com or Guru.com to put your skills to use. You can do everything from web design and business analysis, to more basic tasks like data entry or scheduling. It only takes a few days to get started, and the websites often screen out scams or unreliable employers.  

Ghostwrite or Freelance 

Try your hand at writing freelance or ghostwriting. You’d be surprised how many people need website content, articles, or blogs. Even if you’re not journalistically-inclined, there’s plenty of content that exists outside the news world and needs to be written. 

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Edie, the Unlikely Hero

 

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In a movement defined by lockstep support among 20-somethings, and a marriage debate shaped by the 2000’s, 83-year old Edie Windsor has become our unlikely hero. An octogenarian widower leading the charge is certainly unexpected, but it is important.

Edie Windsor’s story is a reminder that Millennials are not all-of-the-sudden demanding a redefinition of marriage, but instead are campaigning for recognition of something that has been around for a long time. At the very least, since Edith Windsor asked Thea Clara Spyer “is your dance card full?”

These couples have been here, and we are all quite late to their party. We’re the generation who decided to attend. Millennials are just the group who decided we wanted stories like Edie’s to be a part of our story, our history, and the list of things we want to carry with  us into our 21st Century.

An 83-year-old widow is a reminder that there has been havoc let loose on people’s lives that we cannot undo. There are 50-year relationships that have ended in death, never given equality. Though this is now the young people’s fight, there are many who stepped out long before us.

Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer’s heartwarming yet heartbreaking story is the embodiment of the consequences of Martin Luther King Jr’s warning that “a right delayed is a right denied.” Because our culture and our politics ‘just weren’t ready yet,’ a 50-year love story ended in inequality, hidden behind closed doors, and met with a monstrously large tax bill.

This is what marriage inequality does. This is what we are fighting to end. And, this is a story that a 20-something cannot tell. It takes the unlikely hero that is the energetic yet frail Edith Windsor, walking up the steps of our Supreme Court at age 83 and demanding that her love story, even in death, is equal.

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What it’s Like to Have Your Future go to Court

I’m writing this down for three reasons. First, I’ve been asked dozens of times ‘how this feels’ by friends and family over the past few weeks. Second, I think this might be interesting to look back on in 10 or 20 years as what it was like “back then.” And third, I can’t sleep, so why not.

This week, nine men and women who collectively make up the Supreme Court will consider if I, and millions like me, have the right to marry. They may decide this in the context of California, they may decide that the federal government can’t tell my state what to do with my marriage, or they may change the shape of gay marriage laws nationwide. They may deal a painful blow and decide that there is no such right.

No pressure.

There are certainly others with more of a stake in this than I have. California couples. Those already married in states which allow gay marriage. Those in the Deep South who may wait a decade if the Supreme Court does not act on their behalf against an unfathomable local majority. Some people’s lives will change forever based on this week’s arguments.

But there’s something about this case that is a great equalizer. Every gay man and woman, whether they have come out yesterday, or they protested alongside Harvey Milk and continued ever since, is watching the Supreme Court with the same mix of cautious optimism and panic.

If I could sum it up in one phrase: This is our chance, but how dare they.

This is our chance to have the Supreme Court affirm what we know — that we are citizens of the United States and deserve by birthright equal justice under the law, and before our fellow citizens. We know it ours like we know it is our right to vote.

But how dare they hear arguments that it isn’t! How can a body like the Supreme Court entertain while sober the idea that some citizens are not guaranteed rights that others are? How does this go on in my homeland? How dare we be forced to sit by and watch this argument be presented as a factual, legitimate case.

Yet we will, as we have before, watch our families be smeared and our families and souls be reduced to words like “promiscuous,” “special rights,” and “non-procreative persons.” We will return home to our husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and others, and pretend as though there is not a war about us raging outside.

We are patient. And we hope.

This is the story of gay men and women watching political developments over the past decade. We are patient, yet persistent. We have stood by and have watched TV ads that declare us invalid parents, even threats to our own children and siblings, and somehow, to society at large. And we have painfully watched as millions of our friends, neighbors, and family members abandon us at the ballot box and the local debate.

Every time, we pick up, we forgive, and we begin our arguments again — hoping that next time, maybe you’ll change your mind. Maybe.

This situation sheds light on something that many in the gay community do, that I think is often overlooked and under-appreciated: They perpetually forgive. While we may pester, bother, demand, complain, and protest to no end, when you finally do Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 12.01.58 AMcome around to supporting gay marriage, we forgive you. We thank you. We ask you to saddle up and join the fight. Even if you’re Dick Cheney and campaigned nationwide to ban same-sex marriage in dozens of states. Even if you backed Proposition 8. We embrace you and we ask for your help. No matter what you may have said.

We have done this over and over again, but this time it feels different. Doesn’t it?

The wind is at our backs, support for equality is rising at record pace, Republicans are crossing over. It feels like, maybe – just maybe, for the first time, we won’t have to pick up the pieces afterwards, go home, and pretend as though it is not going on. Maybe — just maybe, we will cease having to plead for rights we know are ours. Maybe, we can finally stop asking that All Men Are Created Equal be extended to us. We may stop having to say ‘please?’ for our rights. It may help stop the stares in restaurants, the teenage tauntings, the suicides, the federal injustices, and the state law discriminations. Maybe that time is finally now.

We are a small minority who after decades of pleading our case, finally have the majority on our side. Maybe this time, unlike any other time before, we will celebrate a national victory for our families and families to-be.

So that is how it feels. It is nerve-wracking, it is anxious, it is full of maybes, it is hopeful, and it is possibly damning. But above all, it is time. We have waited, some of us a few years, others for decades, and finally our patience is paying off.

AND it is time, for you too. Whatever vote you may have cast in the past, whatever comments you may have made in front of us or behind us, this community has proven time and time again that it will forgive to make a new friend. We ask only for equal treatment under the law (and, maybe for the last time,) please.

Conor Rogers
Facebook | Twitter
March 25th, 2013.

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“I’m Pro-Gay Marriage, But Voting for Mitt Romney” — OK, Then Read This

I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. Honestly, I think that given the enormous challenges our country currently faces, the fact that our choices are either President Obama or Mitt Romney is a problem in and of itself.

There’s been lots of grey areas this election: lots of lies, made-up figures, and arguments over everything from big bird to rape. But there’s one issue that could not be more clear cut: gay rights.

If you’re a social liberal voting for Romney based on your economic views, you’ve got to understand what you are doing to the gay rights cause, and your LGBT friends who you support. You’ve got to think about who you’re putting on the Supreme Court, and the veto pen you’re putting in the White House.

You are renewing the national ban on gay marriage another 4 years. You are allowing gay Americans to be fired based on their sexual orientation another 4 years.

Gay people cannot achieve equality on their own. As something like 5% of the population, gay Americans rely on their family, friends, and allies to provide the necessary votes to protect their civil rights. Gay americans are counting on you to defend them from laws that would ban them from adopting children, prevent them from obtaining domestic partnerships, civil unions, and a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

If you’re going to vote for Mitt Romney, understand what you may be doing to your gay friends or family members, and the millions you do not know. You’re endorsing a man who has balked at the idea of gay men and women raising children, and supports putting “no gay marriage,” next to freedom of speech and the right to remain silent. Are these children Romney thinks shouldn’t exist going to be your nephews? Grandchildren? Best friend’s kids?

I’m not being sarcastic or over-emphatic. Mitt Romney supports laws that would immediately and permanently divorce my married friends, and sever their relationships with their children.

I see the economic imperative in voting for Mitt Romney that many feel. I understand the excitement people feel at the prospect of a new President, a new set of solutions, and a reprieve from a nasty 4 years. But, if you’re going to do this, and still consider yourself pro-gay marriage — please, plan your penance.

What are you going to do to help marriage equality advance in your home state? Where are you going to speak out for gay rights if its not going to be with your vote on who to send to the White House? Will you promise to back a pro-gay governor? Legislator? Will you fight a ballot initiative when it comes to your home state? Will you donate to the cause in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, or Washington?

5% of the country is being targeted by another half of it. Do something about it.

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“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

 THOMAS JEFFERSON

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Biden’s Funny, but Biden Didn’t do His Job.

Joe Biden was funny! Biden was sarcastic! Biden controlled the conversation — but Biden didn’t do his job. Biden, as usual, is now the distraction from what the Democrats would like to be talking about.

For weeks, Democrats have been trying to convince the country that Paul Ryan is an Ayn-Rand-fueled radical that is pushing an irrational brand of libertarianism. Biden barely touched on that, and except for a few appeals asking seniors “who do you trust?” Biden missed the last big opportunity the Democrats had to brand Ryan as an extremist that makes Romney not worth voting for.

Democrats seem happy that Biden was entertaining — but guess what? This morning, no one is talking about Paul Ryan’s medicare stances. No one is talking about the “war on women,” and no one is talking about income stratification or taxation. No one is talking about anything the Democrats want to talk about.

Joe Biden’s job was to scare people away from Paul Ryan — instead we all got a good laugh, and undecided voters got a 90 minute taste of the shouting-interrupting-no conclusions-made politics we’ve all come to hate.

Joe’s funny, but Joe failed.

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You Should Go Here of the Week: Gulfoss, Iceland

You Should Go Here of the Week: Gulfoss, Iceland

Welcome to one of the coolest places I’ve ever been — the Gulfoss Waterfall in Southwestern Iceland. On most tours on the Island, this is the centerpiece of the “Golden Circle” tour. You’ll get a little wet but its worth it. Behind the waterfall is a 360 view complete with glaciers, flatlands, mountains in every directions and a volcano or two.

The good news: Most Icelandair flights from the US and Europe are relatively cheap, as are the hotels and yours once you get on-island in Iceland.

The bad news: Your window to see this when the sky is blue, the temperature is above 50, and the days are long is mid-May thru early-September.

Where to stay: I stayed in the City Center Hotel in Reykjavik. Considering their lobby is actually a microbrew beer lounge, it was an awesome choice on one of Reykjavik’s walking streets, and one block down from some of the tour departures. If you do go, spend your days out in the countryside and your nights in Reykjavik.

A bonus: From Reykjavik, the rest of mainland Europe is only a cheap ticket away.

For another trip (sort of) in the neighborhood, check out all you can see with one week on the Gulf of Finland.

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Ring Around the Gulf of Finland

One of my dream vacations is to hop on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, which takes you from Western Russia (Petersburg or Moscow,) all the way to either Vladivostok on Russia’s eastern coast, or to Beijing, China via Mongolia. (More about this later…)

So, while looking into traveling to St. Petersburg to catch the railroad, I had a bit of sticker-shock at the cost of a flight to Russia from my hometown of Washington, D.C. — it’s about $1300 to St. Petersburg, or $1500 to Moscow round-trip. 700+ one-way for each.

But then I remembered…Finland!

Look, Finland!

Finland, the wonderful Scandinavian country that kept out the Soviets thanks to reloading-while-skiing skills is only a few hours from St. Petersburg. And, guess what? It’s only about $800 round-trip to Helsinki, Finland from Washington or New York, and about $100 aboard a train from Russia.

Petersburg! Now cheaper with purchase of one Finland.

Surprise! It’s literally cheaper to fly to Helsinki, experience the city, spend a night or two in hostel, then jump on a train to Russia than it is to just fly to Russia. As you’ll see, by accident, I stumbled the perfect one-week long Nordic and Russian trip.

When I travel across the Atlantic, I always try to see as much as possible. (If you’re going to pay all that money to get over there, why see just one place?)

That’s where the third destination, Tallin, Estonia comes in.

Old Tallin, once home to the tallest building in the world.

Tallin — a quick ferry ride from Helsinki, or quick train from St. Petersburg — is one of Europe’s most up and coming cities and home to Estonia’s impressive economic turnaround. The city’s 15th and 16th century look is complemented by a modern core, makes for great photography, and even looks a little romantic, if you’re so inclined.

Even better, you can do it on the cheap. I don’t mind staying in hostels, but Tallin is the sort of city where you can grab a nice hotel for under $100 per night anyway.

How To Do It:

My suggestion: Book a round-trip flight out of Helsinki in the early summer and give yourself about a week’s time. Spend two nights in Helsinki, and take the ferry 50 miles south across the Gulf of Finland to Tallin. Spend two nights in Tallin, explore the Old Town and get on a train to St. Petersburg. Explore Russia’s cultural capital for two to three nights, before getting back on a bus or train to catch your flight home from Helsinki. Planes, trains and ferries should cost just over $1,000. The rest is up to you. Congratulations, in 7 days you’ve seen Finland, Estonia, and Russia!

P.S. If you’ve got a couple extra days and dollars to spare, consider adding Vyborg, Russia a former Finnish city that changed hands  in the 1940s to your itinerary.

And note: Russia’s visa laws have changed (and gotten cheaper,) recently, so keep an eye out for the requirements for travel.

 

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