This week, we had some victories in the perpetual quest for sexual freedom. Your sexual freedom is frequently being determined by lawmakers and their constituents who wish to impose their own morals upon the masses. And nothing brings about a more deeply justified and righteous sense of morality than sexuality.
This week President Obama made a bold and important pronouncement, making it law that health insurers MUST cover birth control and that all hospitals have an obligation to provide it to their patients, regardless of the morality of the hospital owners, donors, staff or management. This bold and essential move puts women’s health and self-determination above a minority’s moral projections and objections.
That women’s access to birth control or young people’s access to condoms is even still debated is beyond outrageous. For women to experience true sexual freedom and “freedom of association” we must be able to decide whether and when we want to experience pregnancy. For women to experience sexual healing, we must be able to begin by avoiding an unwanted pregnancy when we have an accident, make a mistake, or experience sexual assault. These are non-negotiable in our pursuit of happiness and freedom.
This week San Francisco led the way once again on the road to sexual equality by overturning the now infamous Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California. I had never had so much shame and disappointment in my home state than the day the people “voted” to give me fewer rights than the heterosexual majority experience in California. Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt wrote in the decision that “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gay men and lesbians in California.”
These two decisions based on ethics and human well-being have several important things in common:
1. They level the ability of all people to choose how and with whom they have intimate relationships.
2. They put highly personal decisions in the hands of the people who the decisions impact, rather than allowing outside political forces to determine people’s personal destinies.
3. They bring us closer to true sexual freedom, which is an essential component of actual and total freedom. Yet we rarely, if ever, hear sexual freedom discussed as part of freedom in the pundit/candidate/political atmosphere that dominates the public/private debate in this country.
4. They bring into great relief the absurdity that a democratic government would think they could make such decisions for its people, and ironically, it’s the same folks who want “smaller government” and less “meddling” from the government who support these infringements on personal liberty and sexuality.
Sexual freedom is a non-negotiable element of our freedom. We cannot feel fully sexually empowered without sexual freedom. Sexual freedom and empowerment mean we are the ones who decide who we have intimate and sexual relationships with, we choose how we organize those relationships, we make the decisions in those relationships-including how and when we have sex, whether and when we choose to have children, how we organize our families and how we identify our relationships and sexual identities.
This is personal terrain. No government has the right to insert itself there and make demands on us about how we do this, as long as we aren’t hurting anyone. And truly, if women’s self-determined use of birth control and same-sex couples’ marriages make it impossible for others to “preserve” their own personal sexual values, then those values are built on quicksand and should be re-evaluated. People’s exercise of sexual freedom does not put others’ sexual freedom at risk, in fact, it strengthens the sexual freedom of all people that much more.