The past 24 hours

A lot has happened in the last 24 hours that affect me as a woman, as a woman who loves women, and as a person of color.

Wendy Davis, a Democrat senator from Texas, stood, paced, and rocked in order to stay comfortable while filibustering a restrictive abortion law (SB 5) to prevent it from being delivered to the governor. She could not eat, drink, go to the bathroom, lean against her desk or sit down. She planned to do this for 13 hours until past midnight when the vote could no longer be held. To fill in the time, she asked for people’s stories in advance to read. They stopped her at 11 hours with 3 points of order. Her Democrat peers went on to appeal these injunctions, and stalled long enough that the vote for the filibuster to end went past midnight, which made the vote invald. In a cowardly move, it was found that the timestamp for the vote was changed so that the vote appeared to occur before midnight. In the end, SB 5 was successfully stopped.

SB5 would have required existing abortion clinics to update their facilities to surgical standards, basically closing them due to insufficient funds to do so and making it harder for a woman who needed an abortion to travel far in order to get one. Texas is a huge state.

I am angry that one has to go through this political theatre in order to fight for minority rights, and in the end, the majority will try to call that effort moot by a mere edit. The filibuster is ridiculous, but it was was a last resort to rally for something that is worth fighting for, and everyone saw Wendy Davis stand for a woman’s right to choose.

After a restful sleep, I woke up to thrilled Facebook statuses that both Prop 8 and DOMA were struck down. Same-sex couples in states that do not have a ban and allows same-sex marriage will gain federal benefits and protection. California couples can finally be marry without all the back and forth. While I’m not a fan of marriage at this point in my life, I recognize that many of my peers who are in long-term relationships could use this opportunity. Benefits are not the only thing, but having to navigate through a legal process outside of a legally recognized marriage in order to make sure your partner and kids are taken care of is something that straight married couples do not have to worry about.

There is still more to fight for, as not all states recognize same-sex marriage, so a couple cannot freely be mobile in America, if they wanted to. Also, immigration equality still has a long ways to go. I imagine that opponents of immigration are already looking to block this issue as well.

Now that same-sex couples have the right to marry, one must also remember that everyone has a right to vote fairly. The Voting Rights Act prevents discriminatory voting practices, and the Supreme Court struck Section 4 that defines which areas need federal approval when changing voting laws because of outdated data. Now it’s up to Congress to come up with a new bill to fill in this gap. Question is, will the Republican-majority Congress do the right thing? And in the meantime, some areas are already imposing new voter ID laws.

Aizu-Wakamatsu (会津若松)

Just got word that I’ll be in Aizu-Wakamatsu City, and based at Aizu Gakuho High School!

The school’s pictures were totally not what I expected it to be. The building looks incredibly new and pristine, modern and humongous. It kind of even looks like a industrial complex! I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it looks great surrounded by mountains, and what I think might be Mt. Bandai in the back. My only comparison is to Nishi-Ko High School in Kurayoshi, Tottori-ken, which felt significantly smaller and older. I wonder if Japanese schools go through periodic remodels and upgrades. I’ll have to visit Nishi-ko again to see.

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This shit is gettin’ real! I haven’t met anyone yet, but already feel honored to be working here. I hope to do a good job.