Her name is Molly. She taught me how to prosecute sex crimes and child abuse.
Her name is Sue. She taught me how her brand of nursing heals, and nurtures justice.
Her name is Judy. She gave me the understanding I needed to view the victims in my cases with the compassion and respect they deserved.
This was in Alexandria, Virginia, where I cut my teeth on the fight that has shaped my life. In the Bronx, New York, where I went next and where I was reduced to shreds as a prosecutor in a very different and more brutal environment, there was Elisa, Beth Ann, Danielle, Rachel, and many more. They picked me up, gave me the courage to go on, and reminded me who I was fighting for in the first place.
I have worked with and for women most of my career. They have forged in most cases the path I’ve chosen in every area of my professional life. They have challenged the status quo, afflicted the comfortable, made waves in order to make lives better, and advanced the cause of those who suffer- women, men, boys and girls- in more ways than I could ever properly express.
The current fight on multiple fronts regarding contraception and reproductive rights has many of them (particularly those who fought the previous battles) scratching their heads as to why a war still rages. I have few answers, but I suspect that dying ideals tend to trumpet loudly in desperation rather than strength. The struggle for what is right in terms of public policy is complex; I make no move to settle it here. I’ll only say that, in terms of several of the ideals held by some in the culture wars, death is imminent.
Our country will be one where gay people will legally marry. Our country will be one where Spanish either exceeds English or more likely merges with it in a mezclado mish-mash with a few other languages thrown in. Our country will be one where human life is highly valued, as it should be, but in balance with the value of the one gender blessed to bring it forth.
Her name is Florence, and she is my mother. Her spirituality takes shape within Roman Catholicism, but for 73 years she has bravely forged her own path to God. She gave to me a faith of love, charity, and a wise but equally childlike sense of kindness and decency. The first gay people I knew, I knew at her table. The first who believed differently than we did, I learned from in her kitchen. Food is love to her, and it has blessed the happy and content, but just as often the dispossessed, the outsider, the sick or dying, the simply lonely.
She is not angel. She is a woman. But she is why my heart beats, both literally and figuratively. The coming generations will view her- and her sisters in gender- as equals. They will do so or they will perish. It’s really that simple.