Sunday, December 19, 2010

One step....sideways for human rights?

So yesterday the Senate voted a repeal on the Don't Ask Don't Tell law, which has cost a staggering 13,500 military personnel to lose their jobs because of their sexuality over the 17 years it's been in effect. (I've never quite understood how it's federal law that you can't discriminate based on gender, age, race or sexuality; yet a branch of the federal government is able to do so.) So now it only remains for Pres. Obama to sign into law, and he has already expressed his support of it. And since the Secretary of Defense, and several Pentagon officials have already expressed their support of the Repeal, hopefully there are no appeals. So good on you Congress for finally doing the right thing.

But before celebrating too much, let's see what else Congress was up to this week. Why, the House voted against the Child Marriage Prevention Act (the Senate had already passed the Act unanimously). The House claimed it would support abortion and be too costly. It's alleged cost? Well, the bill itself actually does not specify ANY cost whatsoever. The opponents came up with the number of $108 million over a 5 year period. Even if that were true, this after a tax cut which will create a $858 billion deficit signed just a few days before. And $108 billion over 5 years is an incredibly paltry sum. Especially in comparison to the billions being spend on defense yearly. And finally, the bill says absolutely nothing about abortion or family planning. Not one thing. The bill is to prevent girls from getting married, it is not addressing girls who are already married and possibly trying to get out of said marriage and don't want children because then their families will make sure they stay in said marriage. Nope, not in there.
Seriously Congress, an estimated 60 million girls worldwide under the age of 17 are married off. Because these girls are having children before their bodies are ready: they are dying in childbirth; or they develop fistulas for which many developing countries don't have the doctors or the resources to fix and they have to live with the stigma and infections, smells, and sores that accompany it; their children are often premature, malnourished, or stillborn. They are unable to complete their education, and it is proven that for every year of education a mother has, her family's income and education for her children rises, as well as the size of the family decreasing to a manageable amount. How can that not be a good thing?

So major yeas for doing one thing right Congress, but also major boos for doing another wrong.

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