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Never Thought I'd Ever Admit That

My Mom Was Right

By: Karen J. Allen
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon

So, who are you going to vote for? Not telling? Me neither.

I didn't always have that kind of anonymity. Back in the small town in southern Illinois where I grew up, my mom was an election judge. When my brother and I left, before we either established residency in different states, she would always make sure we received absentee ballots. At the same time, she would send us sample ballots, marked to show who she thought we should vote for. And she always knew because she would be the one opening the envelopes and tallying the votes!

In those days, I chalked that up to my mother still trying to tell me what to do. It's taken me a lot of years to understand that it was much more than that.

I'm embarrassed to admit that it wasn't until recently that I fully grasped what women went through to earn the right to vote. Of course, I know about the suffragist movement, but, like so many other things, what I was taught in school was not the most accurate or full account. It was an internet forward, of all things, that prompted me to do a little research.

What I had always been taught and naively believed was that women had organized, petitioned and marched until a consensus was reached leading to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. I don't ever remember reading about movement leaders being thrown into jail, beaten, humiliated and even tortured.

I never took the time to learn that the Women's Rights Convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 and it wasn't until 1920, 72 years later, that women finally won the right to vote. Up until then, women were considered second-class citizens without many of the same rights that men had.

Sound familiar?

No, I didn't know all that. But I bet my mom did.

None of us should take the right to vote for granted. Nor should we assume that "right" will prevail. It would behoove us to remember that, while the right to vote was eventually passed, the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in 1923, and even though passed by Congress in 1972, it still waits to be ratified.

This election could well determine progress for the GLBT community for generations. I believe we are at a significant crossroad. If California's Proposition 8 passes and John McCain and Sarah Palin win the White House, they will support a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as pay-back for their base. Palin has already stated her support for such an amendment. If Proposition 8 fails and McCain and Palin are elected, the Vote Yes crowd will demand a federal amendment and our new leaders will support it.

If you're following my logic here, there is only one good outcome for us next week.

But, I am hopeful. When I heard that keynote speech four years ago, I knew then that the speaker would one day be the President of the United States...

"...It's not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there's another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.

If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent.

If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief --- I am my brother's keeper, I am my sisters' keeper -- that makes this country work.

... there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America. There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.

... the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

...in the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?

...Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God's greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead."

 

Better days ahead? That is an audacious hope!

 

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Tell us what you think at admin@onthegayhorizon.com.

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Long Voting Lines? 

By: Ann-Marie Giglio
Co-Publisher, On the Gay Horizon 

Don't let long voting lines keep you away.  Consider that time a bonus gift.  Use it well. 

What can you do?

You'll probably want to start with some deep breathing to relax, because you're going to be there a while.  After all, we can't change the line.  But we can change our response to it.  So choose to take some slow breaths (through your nose if possible) that fill your lungs from bottom to top.  To make it meditative, concentrate on it.  Make the length of your inhale equal to your exhale, say 8 counts each.

To relax more, increase the count.  Do the next breath with 9 counts in and 9 counts out.  But be careful...this is a great way to fall asleep!

Since you'll be standing, use it as an opportunity to practice your balance skills.  Balance becomes central to our well-being as we age --- especially physical balance.  So stand up straight, but relaxed.   No hunched shoulders.  Relax as much as possible.  Keep your knees soft.  And then, shift your weight.  Put your weight entirely on one leg (keep that knee soft or even bent slightly), and then lift the other heel off the ground. 

Can you stand still?  Need more challenge?  Close your eyes.  And then do the other side.  Be conscious of using your abs to achieve stability.  Feel solid.

And if you're reading in line to pass the time, take a break and try some neck rolls.  Stand straight, shoulders down, and drop your chin onto your chest.  Roll your chin to the right until your right ear is close to your shoulder, and then reverse.  No rolling your head to the rear!  Unless you're a yogi.

For your tired hands, stretch them.  With flat (unbent) wrists, spread all fingers as far apart as possible and hold the stretch for 6 counts.  Then relax.  Completely.  Do both hands.  Repeat as needed.

And let's all use this time to look around at what we're doing.  Be grateful we have the opportunity to vote --- to privately decide on a candidate.  Marvel at this gift.  It's one of the best ideas a human ever had.

 

[Editor's Note: Ann-Marie Giglio, besides being a professional writer and the co-publisher of On the Gay Horizon, is the owner of a fitness studio focused on improving quality of life through the mind/body connection. She is a certified ChiRunning and ChiWalking instructor, AFAA certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness instructor and SCW certified Pilates reformer instructor. She is currently working on a new book for GLBT baby boomers --- Lighten Up!  How to Exercise Safely and Effectively After 50]

 

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Canada or the Bahamas?

It was never our intention to devote so much time and space to politics --- one of our least favorite subjects. But we soon realized that this election is simply too important to the community. Next week we'll move on to some of the other exciting topics that we want to share with you. That is, we will move on after a quick celebration --- or a trip to the post office for those little cards you need to forward your mailing address. If all does not go well next Tuesday, Ann-Marie is leaning toward the Bahamas and I'll be heading to Canada. Anyone going my way?

Never fear! The newsletter won't miss a beat. Neither will the blog. In fact, I believe if you jump over there now, we have our first "leather" post.....

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