|Mar. 26th, 2012 09:51 am a morning rant|
A citizen is a citizen. There should be no "second-class" citizens. It's 2012 folks! I should not be worried that my daughters might have their right to vote taken away from them! I know, that's over-reacting. But it is within my lifetime that I got the right to choose what I was going to do with my body; my grandmother was an adult before women got the right to vote.5 comments - Leave a comment
I watched something interesting last night on PBS. They've started a new series called "Finding Your Roots", dealing with genealogy of famous people (Yep, like "Who Do You Think You Are"). One of the people they researched was Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who was heavily involved in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's. He was amazed when they showed him that one of his ancestors, a slave emancipated by the Civil War, had registered to vote in 1867 in Alabama. Why was this so amazing to him? Because it took another hundred years, and the actions of him and many other people before his family could vote again. The Emancipation Proclamation declared:
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
Well, it didn't take long for that to fall apart. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, saying:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
They were having problems. According to Wikipedia, they were also demanding that voters be Christian in some areas.
Actually, I'm going to steal a whole chunk from Wikipedia here:
The 13th Amendment, ratified in 1865 after the Civil War, abolished and prohibited slavery and secured a minimal degree of citizenship to former slaves. The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, granted citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” and included the due process and equal protection clauses. This amendment did not explicitly prohibit vote discrimination on racial grounds.
The 15th Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870, provided that, "The right of U.S. citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Additionally under the Amendment, the Congress was given the authority to enforce those rights and regulate the voting process. Soon after the end of Reconstruction, starting in the 1870s, Southern Democratic legislators found other means to deny the vote to blacks, through violence, intimidation, and Jim Crow laws. From 1890 to 1908, 10 Southern states wrote new constitutions with provisions that included literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses that permitted otherwise disqualified voters whose grandfathers voted (thus allowing some white illiterates to vote), some with the aim and effect of re-imposing racially motivated restrictions on the voting process that disfranchised blacks. State provisions applied to all voters and were upheld by the Supreme Court in early litigation, from 1875 (United States v. Cruikshank) through 1904. During the early 20th century, the Supreme Court began to find such provisions unconstitutional in litigation of cases brought by African Americans and poor whites. States reacted rapidly in devising new legislation to continue disfranchisement of most blacks and many poor whites. Although there were numerous court cases brought to the Supreme Court, through the 1960s, Southern states effectively disfranchised most blacks.
Eventually, they put the boot in with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Of course, we are still having issues with voter disenfranchisement. If they pass the Voter ID issue, statistics suggest that suddenly over 200,000 people in the state of Minnesota will be unable to vote. Citizens of the United States of America, unable to vote. A right of citizenship, taken away.
And some politicians -- more than I would have thought possible a few years ago -- seem to be determined to take away my rights as a woman to choose how I will treat my body. My body is me, more than my religion, more than my citizenship. If I have no rights over my body, then what am I? Am I a slave?
August 26, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment passed into law giving women the right to vote. 92 years ago. The Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade was in 1973, 39 years ago. Unfortunately, there was no law passed there, so while I look at it as a moral victory and a turning point, it has less effect on the world than I would hope. There are women in jail for deciding what to do with their bodies in some places in the United States. But if they destroy the fragile victory gained in 1973, if we are going backwards 39 years, then how soon before we go back 92?
We are all citizens. We all have those rights. Let us all exercise those rights and hope that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.