When the GOP decided to create a fictitious "war on religion" to smear President Obama, and chose contraception coverage for employees of religiously-based hospitals and universities as their battle-ground, they had no idea what they were starting. Women across America realized it could potentially be a two-fer for Republicans -- not just an attack on the president's character, but also a pre-meditated, Rovian-style attempt to undermine the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
And they thought we wouldn't even notice. "Stupid women -- too busy raising children and buying hair products to notice some of their health care benefits are being taken away," must have been their thinking.
The argument that requiring religiously-based institutions and organizations to provide contraception coverage is an affront to the First Amendment fell on disgusted, disbelieving ears. The United States government requires people to do things that violate their spiritual beliefs every day. For example, a number of religions believe war is morally wrong, yet, every working adult is required to pay taxes which support the Department of Defense. Some religions find eating pork offensive, yet no one has declared that food off-limits under the school lunch program. Some faiths believe in healing through prayer, yet the government can, and does, require families to seek medical care for their dependent family members. With hundreds of religions in this country, and many levels of observance within each one, it is impossible to please everybody.
Freedom of religion is a straw-man argument, and American women's bullshit detectors are going off at record decibals. Add to the contraception debacle the many anti-choice bills being presented in states all over the nation this year, and you get millions of women madder than Tom Tancredo lost in the middle of a Cinco De Mayo crowd with no one willing to give him directions in English.
How angry are American women? When Rush Limbaugh personally attacked law student Sandra Fluke on his radio program last week, calling her a "slut," women took to the Internet to boycott his sponsors. Within three days, he lost 15 sponsors and two radio stations (and counting).
Meanwhile, women are organizing all over this country, in ways I've not seen since Gloria Steinem and her contempories in the 1970s. When Tea-Party Republicans held a hearing on contraception that did not include any women on the panel, Nina Elansi posted an angry YouTube video, produced in her kitchen. Within hours, it was seen by Karen Teegarden in Birmingham, Mich., who decided to do something about it.
Using Facebook, Karen declared there would be a nation-wide March against the War on Women. Word spread quickly. Within a few days, organizers were volunteering to plan marches in every state. One of the first was Colorado, where Colorado Springs activists passed the baton to Denver activists.
Two weeks later, the National March Against the War on Women is becoming well-organized. Volunteers have emerged in 50 states; the orginal organizing page has nearly 19,000 members, and is growing rapidly. At last count, the Colorado march page has more than 700 members. Perhaps the most astonishing sign of success is our leadership groups (made up of volunteers) have as many registered Republicans as Democrats and Independents... and some are men.
As Republican member "Jane" from Douglas County put it today:
I'm a Republican and I have always been a Republican because I believe in conservative fiscal policy. None of the Republican presidential candidates are worth taking seriously -- I couldn't vote for any of them. And, I'm a mother. I am protecting my daughter's right to make decisions about her own body. I'm thrilled to be involved with this movement.
Please join us to Unite Against the War On Women. March with us on April 28. Show the world Americans will not tolerate women being treated as second-class citizens. Do it for your mothers, sisters, nieces, daughters and granddaughters. And do it for mine.