Sean Kosofsky

Gays should celebrate Roe anniversary

Filed By Sean Kosofsky | January 23, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, The Movement
Tags: chosen family, Kosofsky, LGBT, NARAL, NC, North Carolina, Pro-Choice, Roe

The November elections are only the beginning. We must continue to shovel layer upon layer of dirt onto the grave of right wing political playbooks that have hurt so many Americans.

Last year I left the Triangle Foundation in Michigan after 12 years to become the Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. It has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Ironically, I am currently the only man in the country running a chapter of NARAL. It gives me great pride to be on the front lines safeguarding women's rights. But it is still a continuation of my work for LGBT rights.

Every significant pro-gay legal decision is based on Roe v Wade. All LGBT people need to see the struggle for abortion and privacy rights as part of their struggle as sexual minorities. The intersections between the struggle for LGBT equality and reproductive freedom are obvious. Not only are our common struggles about privacy and freedom, but it has to do with control over our own bodies.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina was just one organization celebrating the 36th Anniversary of Roe v Wade yesterday. Just two days after the inauguration of Barack Obama, we got to celebrate again because in this country, women have some legal protections to their own self-determination.

Anti-gay and anti-choice extremists are out to get all of us. They say they are "pro-family" yet they put up roadblocks to healthy families. They rely on intimidation, threats, fear and bad science to manipulate public opinion. They don't want young people to know about their bodies or to even know that contraception is available. It is the most anti-family position you can take to force a woman into motherhood against her will. Conservatives often say they want the government to get smaller, but it seems they want it just small enough that it can fit into our bedrooms or our wombs. Well, not my womb, but you know what I mean.

Believe it or not, but one of the groups at highest risk for teen pregnancy are bisexual teens. Roe represents liberty. It represents freedom. Roe represents respect for self-determination and personal responsibility. These are the same things LGBT folks fight for.

We cannot let progressive victories on Election Day allow us to sit back and rest. We must dig harder and deeper. We must build bigger coalitions and talk to Americans about our bodies, and sexuality and about freedom and about fairness. And we must win.

Roe is about the promise of sanity in public health policy. It is about what our amazing judicial system has the power to do. But only if we are on guard 24/7 for creative tactics to unravel our Constitution.

Join me in celebrating Roe v Wade and go to ProChoiceAmerica.org and sign up as a supporter. If you are in NC then please go to ProChoiceNC.org.


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Agreed, Sean. We all have to be vigilant and we should all be working in coalition as much as possible.

Not so fast, Luke Skywalker! You are over-generalizing.

There is a general understanding in the MCC congregations that probably that denomination will never take an official stand on the pro-choice/pro-life issue, because there are too many members on both sides of the issue. (Remeber, that church has congregations throughout the world, not just in the US.)

The lefties among us tend to assume that if you are gay, you must be pro-choice ... but, like the presumption that all gays must be Democrats, it just isn't true.

Jeffrey Smith | January 23, 2009 2:27 PM

You can't assume all gay Democrats, myself included, automatically approve of abortion. We need to avoid the mistake the Republicans made by using it as a litmus test.

timberwraith | January 23, 2009 5:17 PM

Undeniably. A society that thinks it has a right to control women's bodies is also a society that thinks it has a right to control queer people's bodies. If you don't believe that's the case, just consider the fact the loudest, most active voices in both the anti-choice and anti-gay political movements are conservative Christians.

I'd take this a bit further and say that a society that behaves hatefully toward women is also a society that will behave hatefully toward queer people. Make no mistake about it: supporting the government in forcing a woman to bear a child is an act of hatred. It may be a casual, distant form of hatred, but it's still hatred. It reminds me of people who say, "Oh, I support the government in outlawing gay married, but I don't hate gay people." Uh huh. Right.

We have DADT and DOMA courtesy of a Pro-Abortion President.

MCC has to remain officially neutral on the issue because it has a unique position as the largest LGBT-run denomination.

I know that for gay men who never have sex with women, there can be no issue more theoretical than abortion - they can't become pregnant or father a child with their partner. Therefore, it is as easy for them to want criminalization of abortion as it is for straights to want criminalization of gay sodomy. There is a selfish reason to want to uphold Griswold v. Connecticut (access to contraception) and Roe v. Wade, since the basis of both is the privacy doctrine, and the doctrine and cases were used in the Lawrence v. Texas majority decision (O'Connor voted with the majority but wrote a minority opinion basing her decision on equal protection doctrine and case law). Until a case argued on equal protection rights for LGBT/"gender identity and expression" reaches the SCOTUS, overturning the contraception/abortion group of cases would result in overturning Lawrence v. Texas and the reestablishment of or reuse of current unenforceable sodomy laws in several states.

I realize that there are non-selfish reasons for supporting the right of women to have bodily autonomy in the matter of reproduction. Women family members' and friends' lives are affected. **A great many gay men do support women's bodily autonomy in the form of legal abortion.** Non-closeted or non-butch gay men also get the hatred of those who consider women and what they consider "feminine" men (all known gays, no matter how butch) to have no rights a heterosexual man need respect.

AJLopp and Jeffrey...you must at least agree that we should all be as helpful as we can to REDUCE UNWANTED PREGNANCY.... since some will still get pregnant..there needs to be medically appoved methods...not COATHANGERs used to help these women.
Yes, I have spoken with a number of women who had back alley abortions (retired MD) They need to have a choice.
BUT THE BEST CHOICE is to not have an unwanted pregnancy.

Here is how President Obama stated it:

Statement of President Obama on the 36th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women's health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

I did not say I am pro-life. I merely said that it is naive to assume that a GLBT person is automatically pro-choice, because it isn't necessarily true. Like assuming that a black preacher is automatically homophobic, counter-examples abound, showing that the presumption is inaccurate and politically dangerous.

Personally, I agree with the idea that a person, woman or man, should have control of their own body. But my concerns about the future of abortion run like this:

Current abortion law is not based only on a judicially-perceived Constitutional "right to privacy," it is also based on the fact that the embryo cannot survive on its own outside the mother's womb. I also worry about what might happen with abortion law if, someday, we develop the medical ability to keep alive, outside the body, a fertilized embryo of any age (a la the "decanters" in Brave New World). If removing the embryo from the mother's body will not automatically result in the death of the embryo, then it is the legal status of the human embryo, not abortion itself, that is the real legal question. Right now, there are other situations where embryos are still in legal limbo --- such as when they are cryopreserved, and when they are used in stem cell research.

Yes, yes, yes, Sean. These issues are intimately tied up, which is probably why extreme-rightwing governments roll the two issues up in one another. They're both about forcing all valued people into heterosexual, nuclear families with many offspring, while seeking scapegoat for all of societies problems.

Pat Buchanan the other day blamed the financial crisis on abortion. These folks are crazy.

And I don't get the problem some people have in the comments here. Sean wasn't saying that all gay men be pro-choice, that's obviously not true. He's just saying that they should be.

if there was an in the womb test for gaynes people would use it and not in a nice way. think about that