“I just don’t trust Hillary,” a friend said. “Give me one good reason why I should vote for her—other than that, you know, she’s a woman—since I know you teach Women’s Studies.“
OK. Here goes.
I recently got a request for support from Gabby Giffords, who was shot on January 8, 2011. This U.S. Representative and eighteen others were shot during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Casas Adobes, Arizona, in the Tucson metropolitan area. Six people died, including federal District Court Chief Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, one of Rep. Giffords’ staffers; and a nine-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green. Giffords was holding the meeting, called “Congress on Your Corner” in the parking lot of a Safeway store when Jared Lee Loughner drew a pistol and shot her in the head before proceeding to fire on other people.
In her recent request for support, Rep. Giffords pondered why she didn’t die and six others had. There is no answer—save for that, if there is God’s hand in this, she is the one who went on to fight against the all-powerful Gun Lobby who, for years on end continue to use big money to influence Congress.
On November 8th, we, the American people, will decide, for better or worse who is the next leader of the most powerful country in the free world. An important question to ask ourselves as we consider the candidates is: What does it mean to believe in the sanctity of life?
The phrase “sanctity of life” reflects the belief that, because people are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27), human life has an inherently sacred attribute that should be protected and respected at all times. While God gave humanity the authority to kill and eat other forms of life (Genesis 9:3), the murdering of other human beings is expressly forbidden, with the penalty being death (Genesis 9:6).
How is it that the religious right is supporting Donald Trump in this election—rather than Hillary Clinton? Because in short, they find abortion rights to not be right. Sanctity of life for these leaders means sanctity of the unborn—not the already living who need protection from madmen wielding guns. For them, banning abortion is what “sanctity of life” actually means. Or rather, this is how they utilize Biblical hermeneutics to interpret biblical texts. I choose to approach the Book of Genesis differently.
This is a huge issue in this election. Christian leaders look beyond, among other things, Trump’s three marriages, his failure to pay workers their due, and his support of the gun lobby. Trump believes protecting our “second amendment rights” because, as he describes them, they will “make us great again.” Evangelicals look beyond all this in order to support him because of his stand on abortion and their interpretation of the phrase “sanctity of life.“
As you read this on Sept 24th, we are approximately three months past the anniversary of the largest gun massacre in the history of the US– the PULSE gay bar massacre on June 12, 2016 that killed 49 people– all predominately Latino, and predominantly gay (90% of the people killed at PULSE were Latino, 23 of them Puerto Rican). What is sanctity of life then? For Trump, among other things, it is not the lives of people of color, of LGBT citizens, or of LGBT citizens’ civil rights such as marriage.
Recently I had the opportunity to read a version of the column I wrote for FAR after the PULSE massacre for a presentation in West Hollywood, California where I was featured in the Lesbian Speaker Series.
I asked about what is sacred. What is the sanctity of life? Consider: the PULSE massacre. Consider Trump’s support of the gun lobby. His racism. His sexism. His homophobia.
What does sanctity of life actually mean? It does not mean the lived life of the pregnant female who wishes to terminate a pregnancy because of rape or incest in Trump’s campaign. The Trump campaign just brought on a new adviser as a part of his “pro-life coalition” who believes abortion should be banned, including no exceptions for rape and incest – even if the mother’s life is at risk. And that Trump campaign employee is a woman.
I’ve written here before about why Hillary’s words sometimes fall on ears not willing to hear them—because they are unused to hearing the words of women. Women have been silenced. It is unusual to hear women and to credit them with social change directive.
I have been posting with the hashtag #votingwithmyvagina. I am not just voting “for a woman,” but voting for a feminist who recognizes I have a vagina. I have a right to care about the protection of my life, and the lives of my sisters, nieces, students, friends, comrades, and the world of women who have vaginas and want them protected. That is voting for a feminist.
I have loved Hillary since the 90s when she came to prominence fighting for children and families. I loved her as she spoke about women’s rights—using her First Lady powers for good. I don’t understand the “where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire” concept of not trusting her. What I know is that where there’s media—they’ll start the fire if it’s not already going—and the person they have chosen to roast is Hillary. Why? A possible female president presents the public with a sociological imaginative structure they have no way to assess.
This is not about four years of entertainment by putting Trump at the forefront of media (as he has been—see Gina Messina’s column about “Trumpery”). It’s about the “boring” issues: gun control, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, immigration, and religious freedom. It’s about civil rights. This is reality. Not a reality show—as many have said.
So, my friend, if you are reading this—perhaps I have given you a few good reasons to vote for what I believe is the real sanctity of life.
And just in case you need more—here are 112 more reasons to vote for Hillary. #HillYes
Marie Cartier. Dr. Cartier has a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University. She is the author of the critically acclaimed book Baby, You Are My Religion: Women, Gay Bars, and Theology Before Stonewall (Routledge 2013). She is a senior lecturer in Gender and Women’s Studies and Queer Studies at California State University Northridge, and in Film Studies at Univ. of CA Irvine. She is also a published poet and playwright, accomplished performance artist, scholar, and social change activist. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) and an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting), both from UCLA; and an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University. She is co-chair of the Lesbian-Feminisms and Religion session of the national American Academy of Religion and co-chair at the regional level of the Queer Studies in Religion session, founder of the western region Queer Caucus, and a perma-blogger for Feminism and Religion. She is also a first degree black belt in karate, Shorin-Ryu Shi-Do-Kan Kobayashi style, and a 500 hour Yoga Alliance certified Hatha Yoga teacher.