The Price of Inaction on LGTBQ Homelessness

Infographic on the polar vortex. Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

When the polar vortex hit the U.S. last month, sending temperatures down to record lows that hadn’t been seen in a generation, I was in my own vortex of thoughts and reactions. I felt a guilty pleasure at the warm weather we were enjoying here in Arizona. I groaned when President Trump, instead of expressing concern for the millions who would face below-freezing temperatures, seized the opportunity to tweet his doubts about “Global Waming (sic),” even though five seconds on Google could easily explain how extreme weather, both hot and cold, fits within the projections of climate change science.


A comprehensive look at homelessness examines laws and public policies that put many LGBTQ people on the streets.


I also resented the online trolls I’d encountered months before, when a caravan of asylum seekers was approaching our border, who argued that we should take care of our own homeless people before we let in any more immigrants. It was a cynical framing, that we could only care for one or the other — and where were their concerns for the homeless now, when people on the streets throughout the Midwest and parts of the Northeast were at risk of dying from exposure? With wind chill reaching 75 below in some places, the cold hit levels that could cause frostbite within minutes, in addition to hypothermia and difficulty breathing.

A lot of those trolls, I remembered, had mentioned homeless veterans in particular, to the exclusion of other homeless people. It added another layer of cynicism. If they cast their compassion too broadly, they might have to reconcile it with notions that blame the poor for their own poverty, as if shortcomings in work ethic or financial planning are the only culprits, and inherited wealth, the vagaries of the economy, and other factors play no role in where the chips fall for each of us.

There are other uncomfortable facts people push aside if they avoid taking a broader, more comprehensive look at homelessness. One glaring example is the collective responsibility for laws and public policies that put many LGBTQ people on the streets. Continue reading

The Racist Roots of the War on Sex Ed

JBS-supported billboard accusing Martin Luther King Jr. of communist ties. Image: Bob Fitch photography archive, Stanford University Libraries

The 1960s were a decade of dramatic social and political changes, many of them catalyzed by the shock of assassinations or the dawn of culture-changing technology like the birth control pill.

It would seem, then, that by the end of the decade it would have taken an especially grave development to prompt warnings of a “subversive monstrosity,” a “mushrooming program” that was forced upon an unwitting public through an insidious campaign of “falsehoods, deceptions, pressures, and pretenses.”

The John Birch Society published those words 50 years ago this month in their January 1969 newsletter. What atrocity spurred JBS founder Robert Welch Jr. to write this clarion call? No trigger warning is needed for this one. He was alerting his readers to the “filthy Communist plot” known as sex education.


It wasn’t just premarital and extramarital sex that stirred anxieties. So, too, did interracial sex.


Welch’s alarmist language was common currency in an organization that was known for its anti-Semitism and its espousal of conspiracy theories. They were traits that kept the Birchers’ numbers modest throughout the 1960s and ’70s — an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 members — and led to the group’s decline in later decades. The JBS, a far-right group that advocated for limited government, got its name from a Baptist missionary and military pilot who was killed by Chinese communists — an early martyr of the Cold War.

However fringe they may have been, Welch’s words signaled the beginning of intensive backlash against sex ed among a broader base of conservatives. Within months, that backlash put organizations like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Medical Association on the defensive. As the debate raged, the NEA sought allies nationwide in churches, civic groups, and the media to save sex ed. By the following year, the NEA was reporting that sex ed programs had been “canceled, postponed, or curtailed” in 13 states and were under scrutiny in 20 state legislatures. Continue reading

Vote on November 6: Pink Out the Vote Tomorrow

Not happy with the Trump administration? Tomorrow is our chance to make our voices heard. Our health and rights are at stake. If candidates don’t stand with us on access to safe and legal abortion, affordable birth control, care at Planned Parenthood, or health care equity, then they don’t deserve to represent us. Continue reading

Due Protections: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act at 40

Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 1977. Photo: Lynn Gilbert

Today, Susan Struck’s political positions are nothing that would stick out in a red state like Arizona. A few years ago, she joined the chorus of support for the once-threatened A-10 fighter jet program at Tucson’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In a 2010 article on immigration, a writer noted her concerns about automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children.

Despite the rightward tilt that would be assigned to her views today, Struck was once at the center of a fight for reproductive justice, a cause taken up by a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, back when “The Notorious RBG” was still a lawyer for the ACLU. It was that fight that led to Ginsburg’s involvement in the writing of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, a landmark piece of legislation that turns 40 this month.


Despite 40 years of protections, pregnancy discrimination hasn’t gone away.


Now retired in an Arizona ranch community, Struck first arrived in the Copper State at the end of the 1960s, when she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Davis-Monthan. She told Elle in a 2014 interview that she reveled in her newfound independence from the family and church she left in Kentucky. “She went on the Pill and stopped attending confession,” the article recounts, and she spent her free time enjoying her sexual freedom and the chance to experience Tucson’s foothills in a newly acquired Camaro.

Still, Struck wanted more excitement, so she asked to be sent to Vietnam. She was assigned to Phù Cát Air Force Base, where she quickly hit it off with an F-4 pilot — and ended up pregnant. Struck understood that the Air Force gave officers in her situation two choices: get an abortion or be honorably discharged. It was 1970 then, still a few years before Roe v. Wade, but the armed forces had made abortion legal ahead of civilian society. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Felicia French for State Representative, LD 6

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona general election will be held November 6, 2018 — and early voting began on October 10. Voters needed to have been registered by October 9 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Felicia French is easily the most overqualified newcomer to seek public office in Arizona this election cycle. Ms. French is a nurse, veteran, and parent, and is running for one of the two state House seats in the 6th legislative district. This sprawling district in northern Arizona spans the political spectrum from bright blue to deep red, from the Grand Canyon in the north to the Tonto National Forest in the south, and from Jerome in the west to Holbrook in the east. It includes rural communities like Payson and mountain towns like Flagstaff.


“During an uncertain time at the federal level, state legislators have an important role to play in protecting human rights.”


Currently represented by politicians who consistently vote to gut public education, limit health care access, and exploit the environment, LD 6 is desperate for some small-d democratic representation. Unfortunately, those who oppose Planned Parenthood and the care we provide have been actively targeting Arizona values of liberty and equality for quite some time.

Luckily, Felicia French has had a strong campaign to ensure all those in the 6th legislative district have access to health care, quality education, and clean air and water. Ms. French generously took the time to tell us more about her background and her candidacy on October 3.

Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office right now in this political climate.

I am a retired colonel who served in the U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard as a nurse, MedEvac helicopter pilot, Arizona state equal employment officer, and senior medical advisor in Afghanistan. I’m also a mother, an educator, a sustainability scientist, an activist with Sierra Club, and a volunteer with my local search and rescue, Civil Air Patrol, and Community Emergency Response Team. I’m running for office because I couldn’t stand to see the divisiveness in our country, my state, and my local community. After serving in the military for 32 years and watching my soldiers wounded and killed to defend our nation, I felt strongly that this is not what I served for, and that I needed to do something. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Mark Manoil for Arizona Treasurer

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona general election will be held November 6, 2018 — and early voting began on October 10. Voters needed to have been registered by October 9 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Mark Manoil came of age in Phoenix during the 1960s and ’70s, an era that saw his hometown boom as it built out infrastructure and provided children with quality education. It was a time period when “government understood how responsible investment could help our communities thrive” — in contrast to today’s Arizona, where lawmakers have turned away from that forward-thinking belief in responsible investment. He saw it when his family struggled during the 2008 recession while the government chose to bail out banks, and he sees it in millennials burdened with student debt. Mr. Manoil is hoping for a change of course, in which lawmakers reinvest in Arizona’s citizens and allow them to prosper — and he’s running for Arizona treasurer so he can be at the helm for these changes.


“We should be pulling from all of the great minds in this state rather than ignoring them.”


The state treasurer oversees Arizona’s $40 billion budget and $15 billion in assets, and is responsible for distributing taxpayer money to state agencies, local governments, and public schools. The treasurer also has influence over investments, loans, and state lands. Arizona’s current treasurer is stepping down from her post, leaving the seat open for either Republican Kimberly Yee and Democrat Mark Manoil.

As a state senator, Ms. Yee consistently opposed reproductive rights and received the lowest ratings possible from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and NARAL Arizona. She also supported tax cuts for corporations, a move that Mr. Manoil says has made the state too dependent on regressive sales taxes that disproportionately affect lower-income people. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is excited to endorse Mr. Manoil for Arizona treasurer, trusting him to fight for families over corporations.

Mr. Manoil generously took the time to tell us more about his background and his candidacy on October 4.

Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office right now in this political climate.

I am a fourth-generation Arizonan with roots stretching back to territorial days. My great grandfather and his brother both served as Arizona territorial treasurers. I am a proud graduate of our public schools and a prouder public school parent. Today, I’m a small business owner focused on enforcing our property tax laws, especially on greedy speculators trying to skirt taxes. More and more we see people who can’t pay off their college debt, can’t afford a house, can’t qualify for a small business loan, and can’t afford to start a family. Our kids can’t live at home forever — things have to change. When the government stops working for the people, we must elect new leaders to fix it. I will fight to create opportunity and restore dignity to an office that for too long has let politicians get away with bad budgets and self-dealing. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Daria Lohman for State Senator, LD 23

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona general election will be held November 6, 2018, with early voting beginning on October 10. Voters need to be registered by October 9 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Legislative District 23 is nearly the reddest of the red districts in Arizona, and home to communities such as Fountain Hills and East Scottsdale. Senate candidate Daria Lohman, however, not only makes her race sound winnable, she also speaks to the necessity of getting involved. Issues like education, access to affordable health care, housing, and community resources are essential to creating a resilient community.


“So many Arizonans have come to the realization that they need to be involved in the political process.”


Despite her district’s red hue, Ms. Lohman is optimistic. “I think we’ve had an awakening in this state, and that’s why I think I have a shot in a strong-red LD 23,” she said to the Northeast Valley News earlier this year. “People are paying more attention now than they used to.”

She hopes to defeat incumbent Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who has received consistently low ratings from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and NARAL Arizona for her positions against reproductive rights, and a low rating from Stonewall Democrats of Arizona for her positions against LGBTQ equality. Ms. Lohman, whose victory would make her the first transgender elected official in Arizona’s history, personally knows what’s at stake when lawmakers don’t recognize that the right to bodily autonomy is worth fighting for, and would be a determined advocate for reproductive justice and LGBTQ equality.

Ms. Lohman has been diligently campaigning and was kind enough to take time away from the trail to answer a few questions on September 5, 2018.

Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office right now in this political climate.

The short answer is I am running because I can’t not run.

Everything I believe in and care about could be lost. The current Legislature is making it harder to get an education and have access to health care, both of which are critical to having a decent way of life. Continue reading