Don’t want to vote? Think again

By Dalila Fridi

Like many, I am ready for the 2012 Presidential election to be over! This campaign has lasted close to 2 years, and as much as I enjoyed the entertainment, I cannot wait to see President Obama’s name as the winner.

I am not so disillusioned to think that this will be a slam dunk for the President; there are many voters out there who will do anything to make him a one term President. The more I read and watch the news, I have an icky feeling about the fact that if we, Barack Obama supporters, are not as energetic as those who do not want him back, we may go backward and not forward.

There are so many reasons why we should have President Obama’s back.

Sure, you will say that as a Lesbian, I support him because he supports marriage equality and that he repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” but there is so much more to it than that. I could list them all, but you have probably already seen most of them. If you have not, you can just Google him or visit the campaign’s website (or check out any number of political posts The L Stop has made). I’ll just focus on a few that you may not be as familiar with.

Lilly Ledbetter

As much as I was overjoyed when I heard the President say that LGBTQ couples have the right to marry, I was thrilled when the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reinstates the rule in place prior to Ledbetter, frequently called the paycheck accrual rule, so that the 180-day time limit for filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC begins to run anew after each discriminatory paycheck is received. The new Ledbetter law applies to all claims of pay discrimination—whether they are based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age or disability. Not only is this important to me, this is a historical moment. I cannot believe that it took this long for such a bill to pass. I was in Charlotte this year for the Democratic National Convention for one day, and not only did I get to hear President Clinton’s speech, I was also in the hall when Lilly Ledbetter spoke. She told the story of how after 20 years of working, and in a position that few women held at the time, she discovered that she was being paid less than men with the same job and with less seniority. Her salary was almost 30% less than her male colleagues. She sued her company in 2007 and followed it all the way to the Supreme Court, where she lost and the case was dismissed because the Court held that an employee has 180 days only from the time a discriminatory pay decision was made to file a charge with the EEOC to challenge pay discrimination.

If Mitt Romney was president in 2009, he would not have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, as one of his advisors has stated that “the Governor was opposed to it at the time.”

How about the Affordable Care Act, or as it is dubbed, Obamacare? I personally had no clue that women paid more than men for the same coverage. How is that possible? There are so many rights that protect our health included in this act: insurance companies cannot deny coverage to women with pre-existing conditions such as having been pregnant, (yes, having a child was considered a pre-existing condition); women will be able to choose any primary care provider, OB-GYN, or pediatrician in their health plan’s network, or emergency care outside of the plan’s network, without a referral; women who join a new health care plan can receive mammograms, new baby care and well-child visits without out-of-pocket costs; women pay lower health care costs. Before the law a woman could pay as high as 150% of the premium than what a man would pay. The Affordable Care Act would help states crack down on excessive premium increases.

And what would Mitt Romney do on his first day as president? You got it, repeal “Obamacare.” Even though, technically, he sort of invented it by passing the Massachusetts Health Care Reform in 2006 while he was Governor.

I will be honest and say that I am not 100% Pro-Choice, but I am against any law or anyone who dictates what a woman should do with her body. This war on women that the GOP (re: republicans) have been waging is disgusting and enraging. How can it be that in 2012 we are still talking about this? Every time I hear a GOP elected official or candidate talk about the “woman issue” I am constantly reminded of the speeches I used to hear as a teenager in my home country; speeches full of hate towards women and blaming women for all the bad times the country was going through. Growing up in Algeria, where women tend to have more rights than in any other Muslim country, I recall as a teenager hearing religious leaders blaming every bad situation the country was going through on our gender. They even blamed earthquakes on the fact that women were not wearing the Islamic veil. Does this remind you of anyone? When I see signs like “Women for Romney,” I stop and wonder what these women are really thinking when supporting a man who not only will defund Planned Parenthood, but a man who thinks that “Roe v. Wade” should be overturned. A man who thinks that equal pay for women is creating flexible hours so that the woman can get home on time to cook dinner for her family.

Mitt Romney says that President Obama’s economy has been unkind to women. I will not deny that unemployment is not where it should be, but is President Obama to blame? I won’t rehash the fact that he inherited one of the worst economies, but how can one fix a bad thing in 4 years? Mitt Romney is right, the economy has been unkind to women but it is not President Obama’s fault; nor is the damage unique to women. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (the longest in U.S. History) has had a direct negative impact on women. The military currently spends $600 billion per year, with the largest share going to weapons procurement. And how does this impact women? Think about it. These weapon procurement jobs have a direct impact in such that it closes off employment opportunities in fields where women are most likely to earn decent salaries because the funding is being spent on war. According to the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), “one billion dollars spent on education or health care would create many more jobs than does spending the same amount on military projects. When the nation spends one billion dollars on the military, 11,600 jobs are created. If that billion dollars was spent instead on education, 29,100 jobs would be created. And if it were spent on health care almost 20,000 jobs would be created.”

I searched everywhere to find out how Mitt Romney will fix the economy and I cannot find anything. His claim of 12 million jobs is borrowed from President Obama’s plan. Let’s face it: those 12 million jobs will not happen overnight. The global economic problems faced by many other nations are not going to evaporate without sacrifices. And we all have to partake in fixing the economy and finding solutions. I am also unable to find how he will reduce the debt without finding a way to stop accumulating it. Do you really think that with a Romney/Ryan administration the middle class will not bear the brunt of their plan? Take a look yourselves, and if you can find an example that does not negatively affect the middle class, (or the “poor” as Romney loves to call those less unfortunate than him), then I will stand corrected.

Mitt Romney’s idea of foreign policy is to travel to Europe and the Middle East this past summer and almost cause an international crisis. He began by insulting London, and our greatest ally, by saying that the city was not ready for the Olympics. After all, he is the expert; he loves to claim that he saved the 2002 Winter Olympics. His anti-Palestinian speech in Israel did nothing but anger the Palestinian government and Arabs all over the world. How can a candidate to the US presidency be so careless as to say that the “Israeli culture is more advanced that the Palestinian culture?” His answer to the attacks in Libya was to attack the Obama administration and politicize the death of a US diplomat. His remarks came not long after the attack and without further details, he chose to attack President Obama; asserting “that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Even though the statement he was referring to came before the attacks in Libya and from the US Embassy in Cairo.

Is this the man we want to lead this country? A man who will be quick in starting another war with Iran when we are still paying for the two unnecessary wars started by another Republican president?

This year’s election has a lot at stake, and although the economy is on top of the list I fear that with a Romney/Ryan administration this country will lose one of its most fundamental cores: Freedom.

Freedom to choose, freedom to love whom you want, freedom to serve your country regardless of your sexual orientation and freedom of religious beliefs.

As a Lesbian, I fear that the Romney/Ryan administration will strip us of all the rights we have fought so hard to get. The Romney/Ryan administration will take us backward and will not work for my idea of family. They will do everything to pour more money and more support in defending the Defense of Marriage Act, (which Pres. Obama has refused to enforce on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, as it is bigoted and persecutes same-sex couples). Mitt Romney says that he “favors gay rights,” yet he opposes any recognition of same sex couples. He opposes ENDA (The Employment Non-Discrimination Act) which would pass a national policy to make it illegal to fire an employee based on sexual orientation; he flip-flopped on so many LGBTQ issues that I can no longer keep track of what he believes or not.

One thing is clear, and that is his running mate’s stance on marriage equality. Ryan has been heard saying that “Preventing Gay Marriage is part of America’s universal Human Values.” Paul Ryan’s LGBTQ rights record is very extensive and if we think that he won’t enforce his beliefs if he does become the next Vice President, then we are kidding ourselves. While President Obama’s administration has taken steps to combat bullying, especially for LGBTQ kids, then Gov. Romney blocked the publication of a state anti-bullying guide because it contained the words “bisexual” and “transgender.”

There are so many other reasons to vote for President Obama and to list them all will make this a long read. But I would like to stress that we cannot allow this country to go backwards! We need to rally behind President Obama and we need to show Mitt Romney and the GOP that they cannot bully a whole country.

I get very riled up when I hear someone say that they are not voting because they are dissatisfied with President Obama. Fine; you can be dissatisfied. But what is the alternative? Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan? Then I have no words for you other than this– voting should be thought of as a duty and not a luxury. My friends tend to think of me as an odd ball about my strong beliefs about the “Vote” when I myself do not vote. I do not vote not because I do not want to, but because I cannot. I am a green card holder and not yet eligible to vote, which saddens me but I feel that if I cannot vote myself, I can encourage others to do so.

I will say it again, voting is not a luxury but a duty and if many thought of it as such, I am sure that the turnout will be higher than what I hear predicted in the news. As an immigrant with a US citizen partner, I cannot fathom what others like me who are not as lucky as I am to have become “legal” immigrants are going through when contemplating a life under the Romney/Ryan administration.

Maybe none of the reasons I have listed are enough to get you energized to vote for President Obama, maybe the fact that the next President could appoint anywhere from 2 to 4 new Supreme Court Judges will? The top law in our country, the final say in discrimination and marriage equality…is this something we should chance to extreme Right-wings?

If you or anyone you know has decided to NOT vote, think again………………

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One Response to “Don’t want to vote? Think again”

  1. People must vote, not only is it a right, its a priviledge. Rights and Priviledges are one of the most important issues for the lgbtq community. Please remember these key issues, like not being fired your job for your being you a memeber of the lgbtq community , same sex marriages, beneifts, rights, when you are at the polls.

    Posted by Anna | November 1, 2012, 10:19 am

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