For All Those Who are Marginalized.

My children, grandchildren, and two sisters from Kearney and Guide Rock marched alongside me.  I marched because I want the ACA to continue as a law.  Several years ago, I chose to further my education and pursue my degree in the nursing field. As with most farming households, our health insurance was through my work. We would lose it if I worked part-time, so we shopped around for private health insurance. We found that our options were extremely limited. Because my husband had a pre-existing condition of hypertension, our monthly insurance payment would be even higher than the $900 quotes per month we were receiving. Plus it was explained to us, the insurance would not cover any illness that can even remotely be associated with high blood pressure. A stroke or heart attack would not be covered, even though we would be paying top dollar for insurance $1,200. Basically the insurance companies were cherry-picking their clients. Even the Nebraska health insurance program promoted by the governor was over $1,000 a month AND had the pre-existing Health Clause that would not cover hypertension or its related illnesses. Our one saving grace was the children’s health insurance plan (the plan Hillary Clinton was instrumental in passing). Our three children were put on this plan. We took a chance and went forward with my education, all the while worrying about injuries or health problems that would have changed our lives financially and mentally forever. That concern almost kept me from advancing in my field!

Since 2003 I have been a registered nurse. I have seen countless people whose lives have been touched by illness, many that did not have health insurance. Medical debt is the number one cause of bankruptcy. This, and my own experience drove me to become an application counselor for the ACA. I’ve signed up dozens of people to this insurance market. Many have told me it’s the first time they have had health insurance!

This program works. The misinformation about it, spread by inflammatory rhetoric, has been breathtaking!

Insurance companies and their CEOs aren’t going broke. And working people have access to Affordable Health Care through the ACA. This is only ONE reason out of MANY why I march, and my family and I will continue to march.

I marched for my granddaughters. I marched to feel like I could do something. I marched for human rights too. I marched for all those who are made to feel that they are less.

I’m Terrified of the Future.

I marched in tiny Loup City, NE (population 1,000), my hometown, because I am appalled at the lack of respect for women, people of color, LGBTQ persons, the disabled, and the poor that I have seen coming from the new administration.  I marched because I believe Nebraskans are fair and kind people, many of whom have been misled about the real threats to humanity.  Those misleading stories have made many afraid and suspicious of their neighbors and strangers, and marching together can show them that we have nothing to fear but that fear and suspicion.  I marched because the Midwest has been painted as an intolerant, backward, and ignorant section of the country, and that is simply not true.  When we join together in love, truth, and acceptance, we show the rest of the nation that their perceptions of the Midwest are not accurate.  I marched because those of us who hold those beliefs are not represented well by our elected officials, who need to know how many of us do not fall in line with the racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and xenophobic views that are expressed as examples of how citizens of the United States feel. I marched because I am terrified of what the future holds for my young granddaughters if we do not turn this country back to the loving and accepting land that I love.

Why Wouldn’t I March? Why Didn’t You?

I grew up in a small town in central Nebraska, went out of state to college, work, and grad school, and returned to rejoin my family. Seven years ago, I started my own family here. I’m now an educator, a mom, a researcher, a wife, a small business owner, a student. I’m comfortable speaking up and speaking out. But I wasn’t sure I would march. I’m 38 years old, and I, like most of the others in this collection, had never engaged like that before. I am a lot of different things, but was I an activist, a protester?

 Eventually, I realized… why wouldn’t I march?

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that whether you’re LGBTQ, Muslim, refugee, black, immigrant, differently-abled, or female, you don’t deserve to be afraid. You don’t deserve to be treated, in the eyes of the law, the characters of Twitter, or the dismissive or derisive comments of lawmakers, as anything less than equal, whole, supported, worthy, respected, valued Humans.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I love this country, in a way I’m frankly only now discovering, as I watch the fundamental principles for which it stands being threatened and twisted through the words, actions, behavior or inaction of many who are supposed to represent us. Through a “travel ban”; through threats to the free press, the judiciary, the environment, funding for climate change and gun control research, affordable health care, public education and more; through support of waterboarding; through party-line votes and support for an unfit Secretary of Education, an unfit head of the EPA, an unfit Attorney General, to name a few.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I reject the painful, intolerant, objectifying words and regressive, intolerant, fundamentally un-American actions of President Trump, and anyone who condones or defends them.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that physical and sexual assault isn’t funny, and comments about women being not being attractive enough to be assaulted make my stomach turn, make me feel inhuman and demoralized and outraged and unsafe and confused and scared for my 7-year-old daughter. If many lawmakers don’t seem to be outraged with me. If I honor the many strong survivors I worked with at domestic violence shelters, and their beautiful scarred strong children.

Why wouldn’t I march– if I believe that a woman’s health includes her mental, emotional, economic, and physical well-being. That she deserves the right and the respect to make her own intelligent choices about it, rather than be denied options by largely white male lawmakers who have no idea what it’s like to be her. That those who do become mothers, their co-parents, and their new babies, deserve paid parental leave from the richest country in the world.

We can do better. We must do better. We are better.

As my pastor used to preach, we’re called to “remove the chains of injustice, let those who are oppressed go free, share bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people” (Isaiah 58:6-12).  Nebraskans will continue answer that call. We will monitor and advocate and vote and fight and use our “shrill” voices to push the city, the state, the country to deliver liberty and justice for all.

Will you?

I marched because, if we are our sister’s and brother’s keepers, I didn’t know where else I could be.

Why wouldn’t I march?

Why didn’t you?

Strength is in diversity

My daughters.  I want them to see that it matters when people stand up for each other.  That there is strength in diversity and that everyone matters, that love and acceptance matters.  I also marched for my uncle, who is bisexual. The LGBT community is sparse here and I think it’s important for him to know that there are friends in this area.  That not everyone is filled with hate and discontent for LGBT people of Nebraska.

Rights Are Being Trampled and Taken Away

I am very concerned about the new president’s competency to run the country and the direction things are going since he took office. His appointments are unqualified, poor choices for the departments they are to head. People seem to think his winning the election gives them license to discriminate and hate. Rights are being trampled and taken away. Our National Parks are in danger and his ‘muzzling’ attempts of various departments is frightening.

“Human rights are the bedrock of our society”

As a parent and disability advocate, it’s so important to me to stand up for equal rights for everyone in our country. That includes women, LBGTQ people, disabled people, people of color, immigrants, refugees, everyone. Human rights for all are the bedrock of our society and I will always show up when one of our neighbors needs someone to help fight for their basic rights.

“My rights don’t matter unless everyone’s rights matter”

I marched because I will not contribute to normalizing a man and his political party who have spread hate…for women, for minorities, for disabled, for sexual assault survivors, for people whose religion doesn’t match their own. It is not normal and it will never be normal.

I marched because I have three little nieces who deserve to grow up in a world where women are treated equally and whose sex can’t be used as a “pre-existing condition.” Girls who deserve to see powerful women running the world.

I marched because I refuse to accept that it’s okay for men to consistently beat out women who are more qualified than them for professional positions.

I marched because joking about and/or participating in sexual harassment, sexual assault, and abuse should NEVER be okay and should be disqualifying for someone in the highest office.

I marched because I will never side with people who support spreading hate to people because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.

I marched for all my LGBT friends who are scared that their right to get married will be taken away from them and that they will be allowed to be discriminated against for who they love.

I marched because it is 2017 and making fun of disabled people by a man who has had 70 years to learn that that is not acceptable is NOT OKAY.

I marched because I’ve spent an entire year dedicated to helping refugees from around the world who are escaping for their lives…From the month I spent volunteering in Lesvos, Greece, to welcoming a refugee family into their new home in Lincoln last month. I will never give in to fearmongering and xenophobia. I will never back down from supporting their human rights.

I marched because neutrality helps the oppressor, never the oppressed.

I marched because my rights don’t matter unless everyone’s rights matter.