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Breastfeeding In Uniform: Latest Battle In America’s War On Women

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In January, a few women in the military got together and formed a support group designed to spread the word to women in the military and women spouses of military personnel that breastfeeding infants is a good thing. The Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group even got a professional photographer to take pictures of women –some in uniform — breastfeeding. Tasteful, beautiful, life-affirming photographs.

And then on May 22, they took their message to Facebook. In just days, there was outrage, and some called the women a “disgrace to the uniform” and labeled their actions “conduct unbecoming.”

The Today Show” picked up the story and felt the strange need to offer a warning to viewers before airing it: “A few of you may find it too revealing.” Seriously? Is America so prude that the act of feeding a baby causes “controversy”?

The Today Show story includes a Washington State National Guard supervisor stating that it is a violation of regulations for the Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group women to be in uniform and endorse a product or further a cause or ideology. Yes, according to Keith Kosik, State Public Affairs Officer, Washington National Guard, breastfeeding is a “cause” and an “ideology.” Would Kosik say that bottle feeding too is a “cause” and an “ideology”?

Via MSNBC:

“A lot of people are saying it’s a disgrace to the uniform. They’re comparing it to urinating and defecating [while in uniform],” says Crystal Scott, a military spouse who started Mom2Mom in January as a breast-feeding support group for military moms and “anyone related to the base” at Fairchild AFB outside Spokane, Wash. “It’s extremely upsetting. Defecating in public is illegal. Breast-feeding is not.”

It was Scott’s idea to ask photographer Brynja Sigurdardottir to take photos of real-life breast-feeding moms to create posters for National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August. One of the moms photographed in uniform, Terran Echegoyen-McCabe, breast-feeds her 10-month-old twin girls on her lunch breaks during drill weekends as a member of the Air National Guard.

“I have breast-fed in our lobby, in my car, in the park … and I pump, usually in the locker room,” she says. “I’m proud to be wearing a uniform while breast-feeding. I’m proud of the photo and I hope it encourages other women to know they can breast-feed whether they’re active duty, guard or civilian.”

She said she’s surprised by the reaction to the photos, which also feature her friend Christina Luna, because it never occurred to her that breast-feeding in uniform would cause such a stir.

“There isn’t a policy saying we can or cannot breast-feed in uniform,” Echegoyen-McCabe says. “I think it’s something that every military mom who is breast-feeding has done. … I think we do need to be able to breast-feed in uniform and be protected.”
The Air Force has no policy specifically addressing breast-feeding in uniform, according to Air Force spokesperson Captain Rose Richeson, who added, “Airmen should be mindful of their dress and appearance and present a professional image at all times while in uniform.”

Except, they’re all wrong. Why?

Part One

In “We’re Seriously Debating Whether It’s Okay for Military Moms to Breastfeed While in Uniform?,” Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel writes:

Apparently, this was a grievous offense to the respectability and professionalism of the military, and, by extension, to America and freedom and Jesus. These colors don’t run! Or lactate!

A nice cross section of shitty reactions to military breastfeeding can be found on the blog of ex-military mom turned breastfeeding advocate Robyn Roche-Paull, who has spent much of her post-military career trying to convince the sausage fest that is the US military that they should really think about drafting a policy that allows women to breastfeed while in uniform. As it stands, there’s no such policy, and as a result, women like Echegoyen-McCabe and Luna face criticism and reprimand should they choose to breastfeed.

So, what’s the big deal? According to comments on Roche-Paull’s blog that frequently begin with “As a… ” (general rule of thumb — if a sentence starts with the words “As a…” then 75% of the time, the implied third word is “shithead know-it-all”), breastfeeding is akin to peeing in your uniform in front of everybody. One commenter said,

As a former Marine, Active Duty, I am appalled by the notion that any service woman would feel it is appropriate to breast feed a child while in uniform. I believe it is an utter disgrace to all women before us who made many sacrifices for the roles we have today. I believe it is an honor to be a woman, a mother, and a Marine. I believe those who chose to breast feed in uniform are only making a joke of the hard work and dedication of service women in the past. You wanted to participate in a career that is slightly more demanding than that of say a receptionist, housewife, lawyer, doctor, writer, etc. so you should adhere to a more professional standard and take your job more seriously.

Because the natural process of feeding your damn kid that you made with your body isn’t serious.

Another commenter added,

I feel very strongly that respect for both the uniform and for women would be compromised should women breast-feed in uniform in public. Women have fought the battle for equal rights and must be cognizant of the fact that they are still in the stage of proving themselves as equals in society and should always remain professional while in uniform. Professional women do not breast-feed in public, and female soldiers, who are professionals, should not either.

And now they drag feminism into this. Advocating for equal opportunity for men and women isn’t the same thing as demanding biological sameness — being granted the right to serve in the military alongside men doesn’t erase the fact that women are still the ones who bear children, still the ones who feed children.

Others echoed the concern that they’re worried that breast feeding in uniform could lead their male counterparts seeing them as less worthy of respect. To this I say: if the sight of a woman breastfeeding leads men en masse to think that women are inferior or not worthy of respect, then the problem isn’t with the women or with breastfeeding — it’s with a rigid culture that encourages acting like a dick. Why accomodate that?

Part Two

In “FACT: U.S. Air Force and DoD Officially Endorse Breastfeeding,” the website Look Dumbass picks up on the Washington National Guard’s State Public Affairs Officer’s comments in the Today Show video and notes:

Kosik went on to state:

“If you look at the press coverage that’s out there right now, it has been misconstrued as a battle against breastfeeding. It leads one to believe they are being persecuted for breastfeeding. The fact is they’re not being persecuted. The fact is breastfeeding was never an issue for us.”

So breastfeeding in uniform is NOT an issue at all. The issue seems to come from AFI 36-2903, Section 1.4.2, which states:

When NOT to wear the Air Force Uniform …
1.4.2. While participating in public speeches, interviews, picket lines, marches, or rallies or in an public demonstration when participation may imply Air Force sanction of the cause.

Or maybe DoDD 1334.1 Section 3.1.2 which states that wearing of the uniform is prohibited “when an inference of official sponsorship for the activity or interest may be drawn.” A claim which is being made by the bigwigs in a memo on Wednesday to all Fairchild AFB personnel to support this sort of smackdown on the women.

Were the women using their uniforms to further their cause or imply Air Force sanction of the cause?

No!

In fact, the women were essentially following a recommendation and direct order of the Secretary of the Air Force by breastfeeding their children.

Air Force Instruction 44-102, January 20th, 2012

BY ORDER OF THE SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE
COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY

4.16. Breastfeeding and Breast Pumping

4.16.1. Breastfeeding provides optimal health benefits for both mother and infant throughout their life spans. Exclusive breastfeeding is optimal nutrition for the first 6 months of life. Gradual introduction of solids begins in the second half of the first year and complements human milk, which remains essential to nutrition during this period. Extensive medical research has documented that breastfeeding has significant health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, emotional, social, and economic benefits to mother and baby. The AFMS recommends that supervisors of AF members who are breastfeeding work with the member to arrange their work schedules to allow 15-30 minutes every 3-4 hours to pump breast milk in a room or an area that provides adequate privacy and cleanliness. Restrooms should not be considered an appropriate location for pumping. The AF member must supply the equipment needed to pump and store the breast milk.

You CAN’T accuse the women of exploiting their uniforms to further their cause and you CAN’T accuse the women of exploiting their uniforms to “imply Air Force sanction of the cause” and you CAN’T rightfully silence the women nor should they face disciplinary action for exploiting their uniforms to imply sanction of the cause.

Why?

There is nothing to imply when the Secretary of The Air Force issues an order for which compliance is mandatory, an order which specifically endorses and recommends breastfeeding and breast pumping. A picture of a woman in uniform breastfeeding her child is a direct reflection of the recommendations, values, and orders from the Department of Defense.

There is no cause. There is no implication that the Department of Defense and Air Force are in support of breastfeeding.

It’s a STATEMENT OF FACT.

Part Three — Earth To Tony Perkins… Where Are All The “Pro-Life” And “Pro-Family” Groups?

As for public reaction, it’s offensive to suggest women — in uniform  or not — go to a restroom to feed their children. Would you want to eat in a restroom?

Of course, we aren’t seeing any of the so-called “pro-family” and “pro-life” groups like the American Family Association, Family Research Council, or the National Organization For Marriage come out in support of these women who started the Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group, military women who need to feed their children while they happen to be in uniform, or women in general breastfeeding in public.

Where are Tony Perkins and Bryan Fischer and Robert P. George when women need them? For that matter, where is Maggie Gallagher — who loves to tout that she was a needy single mother at one time?

Nowhere. Silent. Crickets…

Why? Because they’re all too busy attacking gay people for wanting to get married, or for being in the military, and they’re all too conservative to actually take their heads out of their asses and recognize that breastfeeding a baby is about as natural and as pro-life and pro-family as you can get.

Hypocrites.

For more, read about the Child’s Right to Nurse Act.

Then head over to the Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group on Facebook, and show your support.

Image: Brynja SigurdardottirPhotography & Mom2Mom Breastfeeding Support Group 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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ANALYSIS

Trump, Wanting to Change News Cycle, Appears to Confess to ‘Openly and Transparently’ Taking Classified Docs

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It’s been a tough month for Donald Trump.

After Republicans failed to produce the red wave he claimed he would have been responsible for if it happened, but could not be held responsible if it did not, then refused to take any responsibility, Trump has been held responsible by left and right wing pundits, and even some GOP politicians.

Trump then moved forward with his 2024 presidential campaign announcement, which was widely panned as “low energy” – so low that several guests trying to leave early appeared to be refused access to the exits.

Days later Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that because Trump announced he is running for President, a Special Counsel has been appointed to two of the DOJ’s investigations into Trump. (Some say that’s good news for Trump, some say bad.)

READ MORE: ‘Fraud’: Legal Expert Stunned After Trump Appears to Admit He Used DOJ to Interfere in Florida’s 2018 Election

And then a three-judge panel basically destroyed Trump’s attorney who was arguing the former president’s appeal in his case against the U.S. Government. Trump is arguing both that he declassified all the documents but also they are all his property.

That was all before last week.

Six days ago Donald Trump sat down with his invited guest, the antisemite and racist Kanye West, embattled after losing hundreds of millions in endorsements over his antisemitic remarks. That would have been bad enough, but West brought infamous white supremacist and antisemite Nick Fuentes, along with (reportedly) Milo Yiannopoulos and Trump 2016 aide Karen Giorno, who was reportedly involved in a pay-for-pardon scheme.

Since Wednesday the media has exploded with calls for Trump to denounce white supremacism and white supremacists. He has refused.

READ MORE: Republican Senator Denounces Trump’s Dinner With ‘Racist Antisemites’ – Critics Say His Claim ‘This Is Not the GOP’ Is False

Multiple advisers have urged Trump to denounce Fuentes, who has a long history of promoting white supremacism, but he has been “rejecting” their advice, The Guardian reports, “over fears he might alienate a section of his base, two people familiar with the situation said.”

Desperate to change the media narrative, late Monday afternoon Trump appeared to confess to stealing thousands of items (some counts say 13,000) including 300 documents with “Classified” and “Top Secret” headers.

“This fully weaponized monster, Jack Smith,” Trump said of the special counsel investigating him, “shouldn’t be let anywhere near the political persecution of ‘President Donald J. Trump.’ I did nothing wrong on January 6th, and nothing wrong with the Democrats’ fix on the Document Hoax, that is, unless the six previous Presidents did something wrong also,” Trump claimed on his Truth Social platform.

That’s when – in a departure from his previous suggestions that the classified documents, which he also claims to have declassified, may have been planted – Trump appeared to confess to the crime.

“When will you invade Bill and Hillary’s home in search of the 33,000 emails she deleted AFTER receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Congress? When will you invade the other Presidents’ homes in search of documents, which are voluminous, which they took with them, but not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?”

It’s the, “not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?” that has set off many.

The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, one of the first to notice Trump’s statement, wrote: “Imagine Trump’s lawyers may not love the final line of his latest Truth Social post. ‘When will you invade the other Presidents’ homes in search of documents, which are voluminous, which they took with them, but not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?'”

Some are suggesting the part, “not nearly so openly and transparently as I did?” appears akin to a confession.

Top national security attorney Brad Moss responded to Dawsey’s tweet, writing, “He has the right to remain silent. Anything he says can and will be used against him. He has the right to an attorney. If he can’t afford one, one will be appointed for him by the courts.”

Journalist Touré commented: “In which Trump admits to taking documents, charges other former POTUSs with also taking documents (without evidence), and says he took the documents in a way that’s somehow better than the way that those other stealing POTUSs did. Same ol Trump.”

 

Image: Shirley Preston / Shutterstock

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COMMENTARY

Franklin Graham’s Ugly Lie Ahead of Senate Vote on Same-Sex Marriage Bill

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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will put the Respect for Marriage Act on the Senate floor late Monday afternoon. It is expected to pass, thanks to about a dozen Republicans who are expected to vote to protect, at least at the federal level, the marriages of same-sex and interracial couples.

Franklin Graham, who unlike his famous father has devoted a great deal of his time to attacking LGBTQ Americans, posted an ugly lie on Facebook to stir up his base of 10 million followers.

The Respect for Marriage Act merely states the federal government is required to recognize any marriage that was legal in any state it was entered into. An amendment to the bill goes a long way in codifying the right to anti-LGBTQ discrimination by faith-based organizations, but LGBTQ activists see it as a win to protect marriages after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called for cases that would help him overturn several laws, including the right to intimate contact and the right to marriage for same-sex couples.

READ MORE: 37 Senators Just Voted Against a Bill Protecting Same-Sex and Interracial Marriages. All Were Republicans.

The bill also ensures states, even if they ban marriage equality, will recognize any legal marriage that happened before any possible ban or that happened in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

“It is very disappointing that these 12 Republican senators would side with the Democrats and ultra-liberal Senator Chuck Schumer to put the vast majority of Americans who believe in and support marriage between a man and a woman in jeopardy,” Graham wrote in an obvious and ugly lie on Facebook over the weekend.

He then listed the Senators’ names, and add links to their contact information on their government websites.

Graham’s false claim that somehow anyone who believes in or supports marriage between a man and a woman would be put “in jeopardy” by this bill is a dangerous falsehood.

READ MORE: 35 States Still Have Same-Sex Marriage Bans on the Books – Dems Say Same-Sex Marriage Bill Has Enough Votes to Pass

Graham didn’t stop there.

“The deceptively-named Respect for Marriage Act that Senator Schumer is trying to push through is just a smokescreen to give more protections to same-sex marriage—and it doesn’t protect the religious liberties of those who support traditional marriage. In fact, it would make individuals, churches, academic institutions, and organizations who stand with marriage between a man and a woman in danger of persecution and legal attacks because of their convictions,” Graham added, which, again is false.

As NCRM has previously reported, all the religious protections that people of faith currently enjoy would be unchanged – if not strengthened – contrary to numerous false claims of far right extremists and religious extremists, like Graham.

The bill and its accompanying amendment do such a good job of protecting religious liberties that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon Church, has issued a statement supporting it.

READ MORE: Watch: Chasten Buttigieg Says Tucker Carlson Is Focusing on ‘Hate’ After Host’s Latest Anti-Gay Attack on His Husband

Despite decades of demonization by the right, same-sex marriage has become extremely popular, and not one of the false claims Graham and the religious right made before Obergefell has come true.

Same-sex marriage enjoys a favorability rating of 70% (per Gallup), and 61% of Americans say legalization of same-sex marriage is good for society (Pew).

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the original sponsor of the bill, and Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, an original co-sponsor, is taking the lead for the Democrats.

A joint press release that also includes Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Thom Tillis (R-NC), states an amendment to the bill, which Republicans fought for, ensures no religious rights will be impacted.

The amendment, their statement says, “Protects all religious liberty and conscience protections available under the Constitution or Federal law, including but not limited to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and prevents this bill from being used to diminish or repeal any such protection.”

Why Graham is telling his flock something greatly different is par for the course.

“The bill strikes a blow at religious freedom for individuals and ministries and is really the ‘Destruction of Marriage Act,’” Graham said two weeks ago in an egregiously false statement.

“Its sponsors remarkably claim it protects religious freedom. It does not. This disastrous bill sends a message to America that if you don’t agree with the left’s definition of marriage, you are a bigot,” Graham added, again, falsely.

Should the Respect for Marriage Act pass it heads back to the House for a final vote, as the House’s version is slightly different. President Biden has promised to sign it into law.

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News

Republican Senator Denounces Trump’s Dinner With ‘Racist Antisemites’ – Critics Say His Claim ‘This Is Not the GOP’ Is False

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U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has become the first sitting Senator to denounce Donald Trump‘s dinner last week with, among other extremists, antisemite and white supremacist Nick Fuentes and Kanye West. But while some are relieved an elected Republican has finally denounced what they say should have been done lone ago, critics are informing the Louisiana Republican that he’s wrong to say, “This is not the Republican Party.”

“President Trump hosting racist antisemites for dinner encourages other racist antisemites. These attitudes are immoral and should not be entertained. This is not the Republican Party,” Senator Cassidy wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon.

Shortly thereafter U.S. Senator Susan Collins also denounced Trump’s dinner with Fuentes, as Axios reports. Fuentes was a guest of antisemite Kanye West, who has also made racist remarks going back nearly a decade.

READ MORE: Trump’s Dinner With Kanye Also Included a Former Aide Accused in Pay-for-Pardon Play, and White Supremacist Fuentes

“I condemn white supremacy and anti-semitism. The president should never have had a meal or even a meeting with Nick Fuentes,” Collins told NBC News’ Frank Thorp V and Sahil Kapur.

“Spokespeople for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans,” Axios adds, “including party leaders, co-chairs of caucuses and task forces focused on Judaism or antisemitism and sponsors of legislation to combat antisemitic hate crimes — did not respond to requests for comment.”

Nearly all House and Senate Republicans are not the only ones refusing to denounce the dinner or Trump’s antisemitic, racist, or white supremacist guests. Despite his advisors’ urgings, Donald Trump has spoken several times to defend himself and paint himself as a victim — not once to denounce his guests’ extremist and vile beliefs.

Some on the left are thanking Sen. Cassidy for speaking up, while many critics are correcting his proposition that the GOP is not the embodiment of today’s far right, including antisemites and white supremacists.

READ MORE: Kellyanne Conway, Who Trump Reportedly Told He Understood He Had Lost to Biden, Testifying Before J6 Committee

“Notable and praiseworthy to see an actually elected Republican lawmaker condemn Trump by name for meeting with antisemites. Of course, whenever someone says ‘there is no place for X in our party,’ it generally means there is! But naming and condemning the thing obviously matters,” wrote The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg.

“Actually embracing ‘racist antisemites for dinner’ is 100% percent today’s GOP. But still good to see a Republican denounce it–although Sen Cassidy has long been a Trump critic,” wrote SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah.

The Dispatch’s senior editor David French, a former Republican who used to write for the right wing National Review, called Cassidy’s statement “Exactly right,” and added: “Thank you.”

“Took almost a week for ONE lone Republican Senator to openly say this,” pollster Natalie Jackson noted. “This is why I continue to say Trump has a chokehold on the party, even if some indicators wane.”

Brianna Wu, the co-founder the progressive political action committee Rebellion PAC, tweeted: “Spoiler. This is definitely the Republican Party.”

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