Judy Heumann Was An Activist Of Our Lifetime. Why Haven’t More People Heard Of Her?

This past Saturday, we lost Judy Heumann.

Judy was a true force of nature, a revolutionary, someone who changed the world…and yet her name rarely appears in history books. When she passed, there were no news alerts from any of the major media outlets. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of you reading this right now don’t even know who I’m talking about.

After all, even I can admit that I knew neither her name, her accomplishments, nor her legacy, until 2020.


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Judy Heumann was a disability rights activist who was recognized internationally as a leader in the disability rights community, often regarded as the “mother of the disability rights movement.” Her story began in 1949, when 18-month-old Judy contracted polio and began to use a wheelchair to get around the world. At five years old, she was denied the right to attend public school because the district deemed her a “fire hazard.” She had to advocate for herself to get an education, and did so again as an adult to become an educator when she successfully sued the New York City Board of Education for her teaching license. It was originally denied to her out of concern she would not be able to escort students out in the event of a fire.

Judy Heumann ultimately became the first wheelchair user to teach in the city. In fact, Judy was often the first disabled person in every role she would take on throughout her life.

She spent many impactful summers at Camp Jened, a camp for children with disabilities. The camp, as documented in the Obama-produced documentary Crip Camp (which I can’t recommend enough), created an environment where she and fellow future disability rights activists questioned why the world wasn’t accessible and envisioned a world that was designed for them.
These conversations encouraged the campers — Judy included — to become more politically active. In 1970, Judy co-founded Disabled In Action, an organization that focused on securing the protection of people with disabilities under civil rights laws through political protest. She proved just how effective she and the entire community could be by stopping traffic on Madison Avenue in a sit-in to protest President Nixon’s veto of what would become the Rehabilitation Act in 1972.

You read that correctly. She SHUT DOWN Madison Avenue. She did that.

Image credit: Tari Hartman Squire

While the Rehabilitation Act did become law, a few years later, the country still needed regulations that would define who was disabled, what would be considered acts of discrimination, how the law would be enforced.  The government was taking its sweet time. Mind you, this legislation was one of the FIRST federal civil rights laws protecting people with disabilities, and yet, years after it was passed, it still could not be properly enforced. This meant that those with disabilities were still not protected, regardless of the laws in place. When it was leaked that the Carter administration was leaning towards changing the language, essentially gutting the regulations into something that was similar to “separate but equal,” the disability community took action.

To no one’s surprise, Judy Heumann was at the forefront. She was one of the organizers of the San Francisco 504 Sit-In which, as of this writing, is the longest occupation of a federal building in US history. This protest, along with others staged across the country, not only led to the regulations being signed without any weakening language having been added, but also demonstrated just how powerful the disabled community is. It showed that we are not, as the media loves to portray us, weak, incapable, defenseless, or dependent.


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Furthering her legacy, Judy went on to serve in the Clinton administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education and the World Bank’s first Adviser on Disability and Development. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. Afterwards, she went on to work at the Ford Foundation as a Senior Fellow, wrote a memoir entitled Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist, and hosted a bi-weekly podcast called The Heumann Perspective where she talked with leaders in and allies of the disability community.


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I was honored to interview Judy back in April of 2022 on my podcast, Always Looking Up to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the 504 Sit-Ins. It’s not every day that you get to talk to the person in whose footsteps you are trying to follow. The person who continually empowers you to be a better advocate, a better ally, and a better person. We discussed the current state of accessibility, how to incorporate the history of the disability civil rights movement into education and advocacy, and what it means to say “I’m disabled.”

Towards the end of the episode I asked her, as I do with every guest, who she looked up to. Her answer, “I look up to people who are bold and daring. People who take risks. People who are willing to step forward and try to do things differently…people who have risked many parts of themselves by speaking up and out not only for themselves, but for others, by encouraging other people to create a vision of where we want to move towards”.

Her story is one that should be told, celebrated, and remembered. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked. She changed the world, not just for people with disabilities, but for everyone. She refused to back down, refused to settle, and refused to accept society’s belief that being disabled meant that you were less-than. It is up to us, not just the disabled community, but all of us and future generations to carry on her legacy.


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We witnessed what happens when everyone comes together in support of a larger movement with Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. It is time to do that for the disability rights movement. It is up to all of us to be the people to whom Judy looked up. To be people who are bold, daring, and risk-takers. People who are willing to step up, do things differently, and change the world.

Jillian Curwin is a lifelong activist in the little person and disabled communities. She is the founder and owner of Always Looking Up, a personal website and podcast that brings awareness to living life as a little person in an average-height world. Professionally, she has used her experience as a little person to contribute to agency diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. On her platforms, where height is just a number, not a limit, she discusses adaptive and accessible fashion, disability representation, and the impact of civil rights on the disabled community. Past guests on her podcasts include Judy Heumann, international disability rights activist, Rebecca Cokley, program officer at the Ford Foundation, Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, the co-directors and co-producers of Crip Camp, and Maria Town, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Secession Talk Is For Losers

It was a truly relaxing long weekend with a hard-to-commercialize holiday until the nuttiest peanut in the GOP candy bar got on Twitter to call for a “national divorce.”

Them’s the wingnut words for secession. As in, the catalyst of the Civil War.

Now, as the resident Civil War nerd over here at Betches, I have to say that I am feeling two seemingly contradictory things right now:

  1. Unsurprised

  2. Alarmed

The first is easy enough: We’ve all experienced the loser who wants to stop the game, take the ball, and go home. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her GOP colleagues can’t win on their deeply unpopular platform, which is why they’re trying to hold the debt ceiling hostage rather than presenting a budget. Their cultural goals are failing with wide swathes of the population, including a young electorate soon to come of voting age and basically everywhere outside of unified GOP control (and there’s still a ton of active resistance there too). And as much as their leaders complain about being imposed upon, they are economically, technologically, culturally, and structurally incapable of surviving on their own. Just like their ideological forebearers. 

Which is why I’m also deeply alarmed.

Because this level of self-delusion mixed with sore loser syndrome is a huge reason why we had a bad breakup barely 80 years into our national history. And if it’s happening again, it could lead to some pretty gnarly consequences.

But wait, Kaitlin… Haven’t you and every other legitimate source of reflection on U.S. history taught us that slavery was the cause of the Civil War? The Thirteenth Amendment has its problems, but chattel slavery is over. How can a political system without slavery be in as much danger as one with it?

This is all very astute and I’m so glad that my incoherent rants on the Civil War made some kind of sense. But the problem isn’t just what motivated Confederates to rebel, but how they broke the system to do so. 

See, a ton of the U.S. political system was designed to maintain slavery. The distortion of the Senate? The Three-Fifths clause? The balance of the Supreme Court? All of it was developed to give smaller white populations punching power way above their weight class. Sure, some of this was for Connecticut and Rhode Island. But overwhelmingly it was done for slave states: highly agricultural, less dense, and dominated by a “self-made” aristocracy atop the ownership and labor of enslaved Black people.

All of this distortion allowed states that shouldn’t have been able to dominate the conversation to hold disproportionate influence over the country. Like… wildly disproportionate. In 1860, there were approximately 19 million free Americans in the North, and a little bit more than 8 million white Southerners — and the South had a majority on the Supreme Court, domination in the Senate (through a Bad Democratic majority), and a strong faction in the plurality-led House (which was the product of the second longest Speaker vote in history, if the parallels aren’t eerie enough).

But despite all of this rigging in their favor, numbers don’t lie. They tried book banning, stifling debate, issuing extremely biased rulings with obviously terrible logic, sabotaging the opposition, and even launching death threats, coups, and successful mob violence. Yet they still couldn’t stop democracy from functioning. In fact, the more zealous they became over their position, the more they converted an ambivalent people against them.

Stop me if this is sounding familiar…

The last ditch effort to preserve slavery over democracy was secession. The South decided it simply had to form its own country if this one would disagree with them. And now you get why I’m alarmed. Because I deliberately left that above paragraph vague. Am I describing the Southern Democrats of the 1850s, or the Republican Party of the 2020s?


Of course, the Union is a much more diverse, integrated, and messy confederation of states than it was in 1860. There are millions of citizens who disagree with these views but built homes in places with extremely shitty political leadership. They deserve a functional government too, goddamn it. A “national breakup” wouldn’t be siphoning off the suckers as much as condemning millions to unbearable cruelty. We fought a war to ostensibly stop that shit from happening again.

Secession talk is the last refuge of losers in the court of democracy. It’s what you threaten when you don’t have the votes, decency, or arguments to win fair and square. The last time we heard this nonsense, it left the country in ruins and our systems in disarray. But it also represented one of the greatest and undeniable beatdowns of delusional reactionary traitorous losers the modern world had ever witnessed. Maybe MTG and her supporters just need a refresher course on how it turned out.

It is Black History Month, after all.

Follow Kaitlin Byrd on Twitter here and on Instagram here.

I’m Gonna Need To Talk To The Manager Of This Black History Month

We are halfway through Black History Month (BHM), and I feel like asking my white friends to lend me their Karen energy because I’d like to speak to the manager about a return.

I ordered this BHM as a celebration of Black contributions to the culture, arts, politics, and function of the United States and the North American continent. Instead, we’ve received the marginalization, erasure, and disrespect of those very same achievements. I’m not saying that we should get a bonus month to make up for it. But doesn’t it feel like somebody (white) should be fired for this?

At the lighter but most blatant end of the scale, let’s talk about the epic snub of Beyoncé for Artist of the Year at the Grammys. Winner Harry Styles topped off the shit sundae of this embarrassment with a cherry of oblivious self-regard when he said that “people like me” don’t usually receive these awards. Sir, you are a white cishetero man, and – all offense intended – you were three years old when Beyoncé signed her first recording deal. 

It was outrageous. It was demeaning. It was flagrantly offensive to ignore a masterpiece of an album that revived and modernized a musical style created and defined by marginalized people after a quarter-century career of absolute bangers every. single. time. 

It’s not just that I am a Beyoncé stan (though what else could any of us be). It’s the refusal to recognize how powerful, impactful, and incredible she is as an artist because she’s a Black woman buoyed first and foremost by Black women.

But, ok, that’s only culturally disrespectful. So Beyoncé doesn’t get a justly deserved award that implies she will never be good enough to win over the white establishment. She’s still selling out stadiums and taking our rent money and securing a meaningful legacy through her art. It’s not enough to throw the whole month away, surely? It’s not like Black history is being actively erased, right?

Oh, wait.

In Florida, weeping pustule and governor Ron DeSantis has effectively suppressed the teaching of Black history in his state via the hellacious Stop WOKE Act — with repercussions across the country.

In Florida, teachers are terrified to share even basic facts about the centuries’ long history of racial oppression in this country, whether it’s the basics of chattel slavery or the widely documented reality of segregation. But leaving the state’s children embarrassingly uneducated wasn’t enough for DeSantis, who coordinated with the College Board to eviscerate the proposed AP African-American History course that will be offered to students across the county. Gone are the Black queer theorists and thinkers; gone are the titans of racial self-reflection. Instead, I guess Black students can learn that their ancestors were happy and noble under oppressive regimes — if they’re even mentioned at all.

There is something deeply perverse in preventing Black speakers and scholars from telling our own stories in our own words during the time specifically set aside for that purpose. It is the only four weeks on the calendar when Black people are given permission to take up space in a society that usually demands our invisibility. That temporary presence in the discourse — on our terms, in our voices — has been instrumental in creating the progress that empowered Black people to fight for abolition, to endure the horrors of Reconstruction and Jim Crow, to stand up for our civil rights, and to reshape U.S. politics by being the driving force behind the first Black man to hold the presidency. Losing access to our moment to speak up and speak out isn’t just going to quash what Black people have already done, but what we still aspire to.

It’s here where I have to get into the heaviest and most heartbreaking event to mark this month: the funeral of Tyre Nichols.

The darkest parts of Black history – the fear, the uncertainty, the deprivation, the blatant and terrifying disregard of our humanity – is not history. It’s still happening.

As Tyre’s and other new names are added to the painful litany, the importance of Black History Month comes back into focus.  In gathering to memorialize Tyre Nichols – his hopes, his dreams, his kindness, his impact, and all of the people left behind – we are reminded that we still have work to do. And not just Black people. All of us still have work to do to ensure that Black people feel safe and cherished, loved and venerated, respected and free.

That is the Black History Month I asked for: one where we are doing the work of making this nation a better place for Black people — by extension, everyone else. 

So, to be clear, y’all have two weeks to fix this. And if you’re not sure where to begin the dismantling of centuries-old structural racism and pervasive, violent anti-Blackness…. Well, getting Renaissance World Tour tickets for your Black friends isn’t a bad start. (You can always find me @gothamgirlblue, to be clear.)

The State Of The Union Made One Thing Clear: Joe Biden Is Here To Stay

Joe Biden had a message for the nation, and it was: The aviators are back, baby! For those of us who remember Uncle Joe’s VP days, his State of the Union address was a vintage performance. He was folksy; he was charming; he was assertive, and with the Republican congressional delegation acting like 7 year olds on sugar. He was the adult in the room.

The heckling from the GOP was the highlight of the night, from the loud and deeply meme-able Marjorie Taylor Greene in her Cruella phase to multiple people calling Biden a murderer as he described the impact of fentanyl deaths. You’d think that after the public humiliation of that interminable Speaker vote and their comical debt ceiling threats, congressional Republicans would at least try to fake sober statecraft to improve their standing. Instead, they were so raucous and wild that Ole Joe Biden was running rings around them on national television. 

At one point, as Republicans shouted at him for calling out their plans to cut Social Security and Medicare in order to successfully shrink the national budget, Biden goaded them into an internationally-broadcast agreement via standing ovation not to touch the programs in any budget deal. T’was some masterful shit. And it was perfectly timed for Biden, because exposing the GOP for what they are helped distract from what he’s not.

Despite the theatrics of his opponents, Uncle Joe provided little more than tweaks to the status quo. Long minutes were spent (rightly) excoriating major companies and wealthy individuals for hoarding cash and profits at a high cost to society, but vanishingly few specifics were offered on how this will change. Biden generated thunderous Democratic applause for capping the cost of insulin for everyone (not just seniors) and expanding Medicaid, but said little to nothing about expiring COVID support from the federal government or the calamitous impact the virus has had on our so-called healthcare system. And even as the Dobbs decision provided the animating force to neutralize the factors of an anticipated “red wave,” abortion was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in Biden’s national address.

So in a way, this successful State of the Union was a display of Biden at his best and his worst. He gave as good as he got to an out-of-pocket GOP, but was giving nothing, honey, to the base. But whether you’re cheering him for reveling in Republican rowdiness or disappointed in his reticent refusal of radicalism, one thing was made very clear last night: Joe Biden is here to stay.

Congressional Staffers Keep Our Government Running. Our Jobs Make It Hard To Function Ourselves.

In the past few months, an Instagram account coined “Dear White Staffers” has posted a stunning quantity of anonymous (and unvetted) anecdotes about working in the halls of Congress. The conditions described range from toxic workplaces and sexual harassment to tyrannical bosses and unaddressed substance abuse issues, with the account posting screenshot DMs from former and current staffers detailing what the day-to-day looked like in their respective offices. Overwhelmingly, contributors say they are overworked and underpaid in jobs that promised to fulfill their sense of purpose but have fallen short even by that standard.

I was one of them, and this is a first-hand account and my own account of what it is like to work in our government. 

“Fuck I hope you die.” Really bright and happy quote to start of the morning. This is a fraction of what it’s like to work for a member of Congress. 

“We don’t get into this to make money.” We say it out of reflex. We also say it as a justification. I was hired in a low-level staff position after multiple unpaid internships and didn’t earn enough to rent in the same place I worked.  I worked two jobs to make ends meet. Again, I was thankful. I reminded myself that I was not in this to make money. I was receiving a student loan payment. It was an enormous help. I am very thankful for that. 

But I’m also frustrated. My time working for a member of Congress gave me scars. I was diagnosed with a serious anxiety disorder two years in. I began seeing a therapist weekly and much of the conversation was driven around my work. I began medication and tried to rationalize why I was doing this. I spent repeated nights crying about work, stressed about tomorrow. Crippling anxiety woke me up in the night. My partner and family began to notice. 

I also began drinking more to numb the anxiety and feelings of stress—a very common coping mechanism for those working for members of Congress that’s been detailed in many @Dear_White_Staffers accounts. During my time in D.C., I saw it firsthand. I always described it as a “work hard, play hard” environment. But now, I see the ugly underbelly of addiction, depression, and hopelessness that runs through the foundation of our nation’s government.

Staffers are the backbone of Capitol Hill. And yet, congressional offices are woefully understaffed. By the time I left, a huge chunk of the work I was doing was not even on my job description. I hear what you’re thinking: a lot of people are overworked. First of all, we shouldn’t be—and the quiet uprising among the ranks on Capitol Hill comes as employees from a range of industries are demanding better treatment. But secondly, stretching staffers isn’t just bad for their morale, but bad for the people we’re hired to serve. Hiring more staff members and paying them fairly would help us to do better work for you.

While some current or former Republican staffers have shared their accounts, discussions around @Dear_White_Staffers have focused on the progressives whose public statements run contrary to their staff’s own experiences. That is an enormous problem. We cannot let this narrative drive the conversation. This truly is an issue that affects both sides of the aisle. Focusing only on the progressives who don’t always live up to their standards lets the conservatives have none off the hook. This is unacceptable.

The experiences detailed to @Dear_White_Staffers speak to a fundamental breakdown in our society. Like those in other low-paying but essential government positions, staffers do this work because they want to make a difference. Many of us believe in our work and in our boss’s ultimate goals for the country. We want to make people’s lives better, but at what cost to ourselves? In many ways, it is a “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” moment. We are turning the wheels and keeping the machine moving. 

We stay in these jobs because our loans get paid, we get health care and dental care. Raising the pay for Congress is integral, just as it’s important for everyone to have access to health care and student loan assistance.

The moral of this story is that without adequate pay and time off our government will continue to crumble.

Why We Needed Elizabeth Warren

It was pretty clear, even before Super Tuesday, that Elizabeth Warren was not going to be the Democratic Party’s nominee. Whatever Crest 3D Whitestrips-induced spell Joe Biden cast over the people of South Carolina that spread faster than the Coronavirus into the campaigns of both Buttigieg and Klobuchar pretty much solidified that. I knew it was a long shot, but I was still excited to cast my vote for a female candidate that I truly felt was the best person for the job.

On Sunday night, two days before I would vote for Warren, I was chatting with my ex-boyfriend about the election. Which I recognize was probably my first mistake. He tried to convince me to switch my vote to Bernie. At the time, I was a little annoyed but mostly just glad that, as his EX-girlfriend, I could argue with him without having to worry about the impact it would have on an already fragile and clearly unhealthy relationship. But now, after a Tuesday that most can agree was not-so-f*cking super, I’m pissed.

And I’m not the only person who had to fight off a Bernie bro trying to bully them into changing their vote. So for those of you who, like me, are angry that Warren is out and could use some commiseration, or for those of you who, like my ex, are angry that she didn’t drop out sooner, here is a list of reasons why Warren’s candidacy was f*cking important and it’s a god damn shame that she’s gone. 

Me to everyone who said Warren wasn’t electable.

Would you like your white man to be 77 or 78 years old?

I mean seriously America. How did we go from the most diverse cast of characters candidates in a presidential race to two men who if you squinted and tilted your head just right, could be the same person on different days? One post-spa visit that offered half-price tanning and teeth whitening packages, and the other post-night of literally being the old man who went to bed and bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning. 

Me, I’m more disappointed.

Yes, Warren is white and 70—she’s not the most representative of the diversity we need to see in American politics. But she IS a woman who, in addition to being a fashion icon for every girl who has ever wanted to wear exclusively all black with just a pop of color—was able to get a point across during a debate without yelling, completely losing track of a thought, confusing his sister for his wife, or being compared to a communist dictator.

May I remind you: 

She could have beaten Trump

I’m not entirely convinced Trump will, under any circumstances, leave the White House in 2021. I wouldn’t be surprised if he glued himself to the chair in the Oval Office and just whined “mine” until we all gave up trying. But, of the three valid candidates still in the race on Tuesday— Biden, Bernie, and Warren (Bloomberg doesn’t count because according to Wikipedia Warren killed him during the Las Vegas debate, and Tulsi doesn’t count because no explanation needed)—I honestly feel like she had the best chance to win.

Trump and Russia clearly want Bernie to be the candidate, which is a red flag that no one, not even someone like me who throws herself into red flags like a slalom skier who forgot how the race works, should ignore. And Biden? Did everyone just forget that Trump basically won Impeachment, a game in which Biden was implicated in foul play? Do we think this is going to end up working out for us? Let’s ask the man himself:

Doesn’t instill a ton of confidence.

Please, look me in the eye and tell me Warren is less electable than those two and say it with a straight face without recognizing that you are being just like, a little bit sexist…which brings me to my final point: 

Are we just supposed to be okay with how sexist this is?

Even my Bernie bro ex thinks Warren was the most qualified candidate. He agrees most strongly with her policies, and thought she would make the best president. But he and so many others like him had no intention of ever voting for her because “she wouldn’t win”. The “it’s not that I don’t want a female President, I just don’t think the rest of America is ready for it” argument. It’s a self-fulfilling sexist AF prophecy, and now we all have to live with those people saying they were right. I’m starting to feel like the ceiling was made with bulletproof glass and everyone is so wrapped up in Hilary 2016 PTSD that they won’t even let us try to break through. 

so solid you can feel your head banging on it.

— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) March 5, 2020

Eventually, I will rally behind whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being, and I’ll rally hard. But for just a little while I am going to wear all black with just a pop of color and sit shiva for the loss of Elizabeth Warren from the top of our ticket.


Images: Maverick Pictures / Shutterstock; Giphy (4); audreygelman / Twitter

NYC May Legalize Gay Conversion Therapy, And Here’s Why

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I know. I know. But before you lose your f*cking sh*t like I did, hear me out. I was sitting in a meeting when the NY Times clickbait banner shot across my phone like lightening, reading, “New York City is legalizing the discredited practice of gay conversion therapy. Here’s why.” I had a moment of panic and shoved my screen in the face of my coworker who’s smarter than me, and in a matter of seconds she read the article and explained why it’s a necessary thing and not quite as bad as it sounds.

It’s been almost two years since the NYC council rejoiced after passing a ban on conversion therapy, a widely disparaged practice that, according to GLAAD, is any attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. It’s been ruled illegal in 18 states and the District of Columbia and has been denounced by medical professionals for many years. A 2009 report by the American Psychological Association confirmed that it does not work, harms patients, and infers that sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity is a mental disorder, which it is not.

So why the f*ck is New York City, one of the most liberal places in the country, making it legal to subject people to such a backwards-thinking practice? Basically, to ensure the case doesn’t go to the Supreme Court, where the outcome could royally screw us until the end of time. The New York Times explains, “The move is a gambit to neutralize a federal lawsuit filed against the city by a conservative Christian legal organization. If the case were to be heard by the Supreme Court, advocates for the LGBT community fear that the panel could issue a ruling that could severely damage attempts to ban or curtail conversion therapy.” The article continues with an interview with the speaker of the council, who is openly gay and HIV positive, Corey Johnson. He says, “Obviously I didn’t want to repeal this. I don’t want to be someone who is giving in to these right wing groups, but the Supreme Court has become conservative; the Second Circuit, which oversees New York, have become more conservative.”

And before you totally panic, it’s not repealed yet. The Associated Press reports that the proposed repeal is going to a committee hearing next week, then will have a vote in the council, then has to be signed by the mayor. And, the NYC law that bans conversion therapy for minors will still remain in effect.

The lawsuit was started by a conservative Arizona-based group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, saying conversion therapy is a First amendment issue, and by making it illegal, they’re censoring speech. So yeah, it’s total bullsh*t, but this is the world we live in now! Don’t forget to go to the voting booth on November 8th, well-informed of what you’re voting for to keep our state Supreme Court from being potentially even more conservative-leaning!

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Images: Giphy

How A Messy Breakup Led To The World’s First Space Crime

When you hear the words “space crime,” your mind probably conjures up images of intergalactic overlord zipping through the cosmos in a flying saucer. You’re probably thinking aliens, guns that shoot lasers, jars full of glowing green stuff, and whatever else it is that Scientologists believe in. But what if I told you that the first-ever space crime may have already been committed and it was actually petty as f*ck?

I give you, the story of astronaut Anne McLain and her estranged ex-wife, Air Force intelligence officer Summer Worden. As amazing as an astronaut and pilot lesbian power couple may seem, their messy divorce and custody battle has given way to space crime after Worden alleged that McLain hacked into her bank account…FROM SPACE!!

So what went down exactly? According to a complaint Worden filed with the FTC, McClain was working on the International Space Station when she used her downtime to engage in every earthling’s favorite past time: f*cking with your ex. Worden believes that McLain illegally accessed her bank account from space, due to the fact that McLain seemed to have a weirdly accurate knowledge of Worden’s personal spending, despite the fact that she wasn’t even on the planet when this spending took place.

Worden then used her expertise as an Air Force intelligence officer to get a list of the computers that had logged into her online banking account. And wouldn’t you know it, one of those computers happened to be on the international space station. And so the first allegation of criminal wrongdoing in space was born. Personally, I’m not sure if I should be comforted or horrified by the fact that a human being can be faced with the full vastness of the cosmos and still be like, “Hold up I’m just gonna go stalk my ex real quick,” but here we are.

McLain adamantly denies that she did anything wrong or unusual in accessing the account (apart from being in zero gravity when she did it) and says she just wanted to make sure there were sufficient funds in Worden’s account for herself and their son, who is currently the subject of a custody battle. Worden is calling bullsh*t on that and has filed a complaint with NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, accusing McLain of identity theft and “improper access” to her bank account.

But what is a space crime, exactly? And who is in charge of space law? Basically, when you’re in space you are subject to the laws of your earthly residence. Sh*t that is illegal down here is still illegal up there, meaning space is actually less lawless than international waters or like, Burning Man. That said, if McLain is found to be in the wrong here, this would be the first recorded incident of space crime in history, though perhaps not the first time a messy divorce has led to someone saying “f*ck it!” and moving to the Moon.

It’s impossible to tell who is right in this she-said-she-said, but one thing is clear: you can never escape relationship drama. No matter how far you run.