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Austin candlelight vigil for Dr. Tiller

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, June 5, 2009 14:10 EDT
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Instead of the Friday Genius Ten, I thought I’d put up pictures from last night’s vigil for Dr. Tiller. But I’m not skipping music entirely. Considering the craziness of the week, I thought to pick a political song that captured both the incredible lows from the assassination of Dr. George Tiller and the high of New Hampshire legalizing gay marriage. After all, these two fights—for reproductive rights and gay rights—are the same fight. It’s about the right of people who aren’t straight men to have a sexuality without punishment or shame. We’re the ones who deserve the label “pro-life”, because we support the right for gays and women to survive and to thrive—to live. And make no mistake, we’re all up against a patriarchal right that is sadistic and violent. Their quiet support of abortion clinic violence and gay-bashing is quiet enough to escape the notice of people who aren’t looking, but it’s there. It’s in their coddling of anti-choice extremists, and their unwillingness to support hate crimes legislation. They will control you, and if they feel violence is necessary, violence they will use.

So this song, which is about being gay and standing up for yourself, I think is appropriate for everyone who is going to stand firm and not move or compromise on the belief that all people, including gays and women, have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I love the phrase “standing in the way of control”, because that’s exactly what we’re doing. At the vigil last night, most speakers talked about the man that was known in reproductive health care circles as Saint George. They talked about how he gave patients back some of themselves when they felt lost, because of the horror of their situations. They read stories about the support groups his clinic offered, the funeral services for the much-wanted but lost babies, the way he made people who felt like they were the only ones feel not so alone. At the end, a Presbyterian minister got up and spoke about how we need to continue the fight. That violence is inherent to the anti-choice movement, because the belief that motivates them—that women are lesser than and subject to men—is an inherently violent belief. And he shamed churches and religious organizations that promote the belief that women don’t own themselves, but are subject to control by men, the state, and the church. Dr. Tiller had the courage to die on his feet, so we should stand.

Thankfully, even though there’s a bunch of suburbs of Austin that are stuffed with holy rollers who threaten abortion clinics—including the man who masterminded the strategy of threatening and stalking any contractor who tries to work on new facilities (and probably on any who tries to repair buildings damaged by arson)—they didn’t come out to taunt the people at the vigil and mock our pain. I’m surprised, honestly, and have to wonder if they just didn’t know about it.

I highly encourage anyone who can to go to vigils for Dr. Tiller and post the pictures online. It’s important as a show of strength, to show that we will resist this violence and hate.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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