Sarah Palin has a new ad out, proclaiming that conservative women will rise up like “mama grizzlies” this year to put a stop to the “fundamental transformation” of our country that threatens their children. Moms “just kind of know when something is going wrong,” she says, and will fight back when someone threatens “to do something adverse toward their cubs.” The target date for her stampede of conservative “pink elephants,” she adds, mixing her metaphors, will be Nov. 2 — Election Day. But what will happen when her Mama Grizzlies meet the Mama Lezzies?
Palin is unspecific in the video as to exactly what “transformations” she is against — except to show people in the background holding signs against “Obamacare.” Even if we assume she is referring to issues she has raised before, such as health-care reform, financial reform and defense spending, I wonder where the direct threat is that is causing her to rear up on her hind legs and show her fashionably polished claws.
Since Palin is fond of animal analogies, here’s one for her. Once upon a time, a fox was chasing a rabbit. The fox, fierce and muscular predator though it was, could not catch the rabbit, who escaped. When a bird asked the fox why, he replied, “I was just running for my dinner. The rabbit was running for its life.”
Palin may be looking for a little more food for her cubs. That’s not a bad thing in itself; most parents would do the same. But let’s take a look at the situation for the Mama Lezzies and our families.
In Florida, no lesbian or gay individual may adopt. In another four states, they cannot do so because of simultaneous bans on same-sex marriage and adoption by unmarried people. In seven states, most children of same-sex couples cannot have the security of two legal parents — second-parent adoption is not allowed. (Some may have a legal opposite-sex parent from a parent’s previous relationship, however.) In another 16 states, second-parent adoption is only allowed in some jurisdictions. In 38 states, individuals, including parents, can lose their jobs for being transgender, and in 29 states for being lesbian or gay.
In 38 states, too, children of same-sex couples know that the state treats their family as second-class by specifically denying their parents the right to marry — and in some cases, not even the right to have a civil union or domestic partnership. In every state, they know the federal government does not extend these rights, and that often carries financial burdens. Respected psychologists have testified to civil-union commissions in both New Jersey and Vermont as to the emotional stress that the lack of equality places on children, and the harassment they may face.
Palin should ask Janice Langbehn about the threat to her children — Langbehn, who was kept from her dying partner’s side, along with their three children, by a hospital that refused to recognize they were a family. She should ask Renee Harmon, who was just told by a Michigan Court of Appeals that she does not even have standing to file for joint custody of the children she raised with her ex-partner. She should ask Janet Jenkins, whose ex-partner Lisa Miller renounced lesbianism and went into hiding with their 8-year-old daughter, keeping her from friends and school, rather than give custody to Jenkins as ordered by a court.
Then there is Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was murdered for being gay, and who has become a fierce advocate for LGBT rights. There are Sirdeaner Walker and Masika Bermudez, whose 11-year-old sons Carl Joseph Walker Hoover and Jaheem Herrera committed suicide (in separate instances) after months of harassment because of their perceived sexual orientation. Walker has since testified to Congress about the need for LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying laws. Let’s not forget Frank Gill and his partner, who are fighting for Gill to be able to adopt the two brothers whom they have been fostering in Florida for nearly six years, after the boys were removed from their abusive birth parents. There are many more examples, too, that never make the headlines.
Yes, there may be some in the LGBT community who agree with Palin on certain political points. There’s no necessary mutual exclusivity. But Palin is no friend to the LGBT community: She has said publicly that she supports a 1998 Alaskan constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Although in 2006 she vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state from extending benefits to same-sex partners of state employees, she did so on the advice of her Attorney General, who said the bill was unconstitutional. She then did sign a bill putting the measure up for a non-binding referendum. And the conservative candidates she has recently endorsed, such as Bob McDonnell (R), running for the U.S. House in Colorado, and Kelly Ayotte (R), running for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, are no supporters of LGBT rights either.
I don’t think it is far-fetched, therefore, to pit the Mama Lezzies — and the gay dads, bisexual and transgender parents, and parents of LGBT children (and those perceived to be) — against the Mama Grizzlies. We face the threat each day that our children will be harmed emotionally or physically because of the laws and biases against LGBT people. While Palin and her grizzlies may be fighting for their dinner, we are fighting for our lives.
She wants to see moms rise up to fight in November? Let’s bring it.
Dana Rudolph is the founder and publisher of Mombian (www.mombian.com), a blog and resource directory for LGBT parents.