Today, we’re doing a different kind of Newsmix — because our Youtube has been overflowing with the voices of women in midlife. Mostly, they’re not talking about midlife itself, but speaking from the well of strength and experience and power it represents, in connection with the most current of events.

“I’m 40 years old, and I. . . “ Those words began what many thought of as the highlight of yesterday’s debate in the New York State Senate.

Speaking before her “aye” vote on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Staten Island senator Diane Savino  noted the long partnership of fellow senator Thomas Duane with his partner, contrasted it with many well-known straight relationships. As the Daily News reported today:

She asked her colleagues who wanted to protect the “sanctity” of marriage what, exactly, that means, citing the numerous reality TV shows that focus on “giving away husbands” to “desperate women.”

The plain-spoken Staten Island senator noted the absurdity of the fact that she can legally marry a man she just met on the street when people like Sen. Tom Duane and his longtime partner, Louis Webre, have been together for years and can’t wed.
“I have never been able to maintain a relationship of the quality and length that they have,” said Savino.

“We have nothing to fear from love and commitment. My only hope, Tom, is that we pass this bill and the governor signs it and that we can learn from you, and that you don’t learn from us.”

Whatever your opinion of the marriage-equality legislation, watching Savino can make you proud — of her clarity, her self-assurance, and the fearlessness with which she takes apart many senators in the chamber.

Speaking of which… Yesterday’s debate was preceded by an unexpected revelation from Meredith Baxter Birney, perhaps best-known as the mother of a large brood in Family Ties.

“Some people would say, well, you’re living a lie and, you know, the truth is – not at all. This has only been the past 7 years,” said Baxter, 62,  explaining that she’s “extraordinarily happy.” And the famous Family Ties mom says it sheds some light on her three previous marriages (which resulted in five kids). “I understand why I had the issues I had earlier in my life. I had difficulty connecting with men.”
She added,  “I got involved with someone I never expected to get involved with,” she said, citing Nancy Locke, a general contractor she met four years ago and with whom she lives a “very out life” with in Los Angeles.

Dancing to retirement, in full power. This season is Judith Jamison’s last as director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, after more than twenty years in which she can be said to have changed the face of dance.

This week, Jamison is the subject of an admiring profile in New York Magazine, which pauses to remark on how age has only deepened her beauty:

Draped in scarves and a black silk smock, bald but for a bit of gray peach fuzz, the 66-year-old still looks remarkably like the towering, five-foot-ten dancer who defied standards of beauty and electrified audiences with raw emotion, particularly in 1971’s Cry, the breathless, sixteen-minute solo Ailey created for her, and 1960’s Revelations, Ailey’s iconic ballet set to Negro spirituals.

Sober election news, from the voice of a survivor:  With all the latest news, many might not remember that Honduras just had some quite-disputed elections, after a military coup in June. And offering witness was Bertha Oliva, founder of the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras — a group she founded in 1982, a year after her husband Thomas Nativi was “disappeared” by the generals who then ran her country.

Shortly after noon on election day, police and soldiers broke up a peaceful protest march of about 500 people in the country’s largest city, San Pedro Sula. Witnesses reported that the attack was unprovoked, and that the police suddenly began firing tear gas as the march moved toward the center of town.

“The facts clearly show numerous human rights violations,” said Bertha Oliva, director of the Committee for Disappeared Persons in Honduras (COFADEH). Oliva cited a broad range of confirmed abuses on and about election day, including illegal detentions, beatings, and even “torture and murder.”

We wonder if Senora Oliva’s words reached our Secretary of State, a woman who has worked for women’s human rights for decades. Stay tuned.

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