BY SHARON MARTIN
Women were not allowed to work. Girls were barred from schools. Educated men were targeted and jailed. Women were not allowed out of their homes without a male family member to escort them.
Now, a group in the United States is trying to impose their narrow interpretation of religious freedom on the rest of us. The American Taliban doesn’t believe in birth control, and they would deny it to you in the name of Freedom of Religion.
Whose freedom? Whose religion?
Religious zealots target the civil rights of the LGBT community. They would deny gays and lesbians the right to marry. They would even exclude them from hate crime protection.
Our Constitution assures that Americans can choose how we worship and what we believe. Some of us believe birth control saves lives and lowers the number of abortions. Many believe that no one has the right to tell a man or a woman whom they may marry or with whom they’ll share their lives.
As one presidential candidate espouses his beliefs that gay people are an abomination, hit squads target those perceived to be gay in Iraq. Police are powerless to stop these killings by the religious extremists there. It brings to mind the lynching of blacks in the Jim Crow South.
A century ago, Margaret Sanger went to jail for telling poor immigrant women about birth control. Women were dying young and giving birth to more children than they could afford to feed, and politicians jailed the nurse who offered a solution.
Politicians of the same stripe are at it again. They have the right to reject birth control for themselves. The Constitution guarantees it. They don’t have the right to force homophobic and anti-birth control beliefs on me or anyone else. The Constitution guarantees that, as well.
In Deborah Ellis’ novel, Breadwinner, based on her interviews, an Afghani teacher is jailed, leaving a wife, three daughters and an infant son at home. There’s no one there who can leave the house or earn a living.
We’re a long way from that reality here in America, but every time a lawmaker chips away at our Bill of Rights and our hard-won civil rights, the closer we get.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer