Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: Human Rights: November 2009
TOPEKA, Kan. - Equal rights for gay and lesbian people are very important to me. As an unmarried person at age 31, people sometimes assume that I am gay because of my fervent support for these issues. It's at times like these that I remind people that civil rights aren't just about us as individuals, but all of us collectively as a society. The world will judge us on how we treat fellow members of our society, as it should.
Lately, I have been very disappointed in referenda across the United States. In 2004, we had the Constitutional ban in Kansas, even though gay marriage was already illegal. Oh, the things the right does to whip up their base. Then there was Proposition 8 in California, supported by voters at the time they selected our nation's first African-American president. A tad bit of irony there. Most recently, we had Question 1 in Maine. It was a relatively close vote, but a failure nonetheless. I see myself as a strong populist who values democracy, but I think certain measures are too sacred to be placed on the ballot. Civil rights is one of those measures. We might not have made the progress we did if civil rights were placed on the ballot in the 1860's or in the 1960's. Same thing with gay rights today.
HAYS, Kan. - If it becomes law, the bill currently passed today in the U.S. House would end the practice of setting premiums higher for females and denying coverage to women simply because of their gender.
Today, too many women in Kansas depend on a health care system that is failing them. 16% of women in Kansas report not visiting a doctor due to high costs. According to a 2008 report by the National Women's Law Center, typical 25-year-old women paid between 6% and 45% more than 25-year-old men for the same insurance market or health plans. Older women faced similar, and often even greater disparities.
Though some states offer protections against using gender to determine premiums, Kansas law does not protect women from gender discrimination. In Kansas, insurance companies can charge women more. Kansas insurance companies are also allowed to reject a health insurance application from a woman for a variety of reasons including her uniquely female medical history or her current health status, unique only to her gender.
WICHITA, Kan. - Since Dr. George Tiller's assassination in May, many Kansans' lives were dramatically changed. One important change has been the media attention given to extreme anti-abortion militants - the ones who advocate murdering abortion providers and those who have tried. Initially, questions were raised as to how the Wichita-based anti-choice organization Operation Rescue was related to the suspect, Scott Roeder. But after a while, the connection between "legitimate" anti-choice organizations and violence against abortion providers faded way to militant, "fringe" groups such as the Army of God. Their latest foray into considerable media attention grew this last week as Dave Leach of Des Moines, Iowa, and Regina Dinwiddie of Kansas City, Missouri, announced their intention to auction off anti-choice violence-related materials on eBay to raise money for a new defense team for Roeder.
Scott Roeder booking photo Soon after they announced the auction in the Kansas City Star, eBay said they would not allow the auction as it promoted and glorified violence. Dinwiddie said she would sue eBay for religious discrimination and that they planned on continuing with their efforts. Sunday evening, they began putting items on eBay, often using intentional misspellings to hide the items, making it more difficult for pro-choice advocates to find and report them. By late Monday afternoon, at least 12 items that had been posted were removed. While both claim the items listed did not promote violence (though the description of the "prolife Bible" said it included highlighted passages that advocated violence), both Leach and Dinwiddie are fierce advocates of assassinating abortion providers.
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