We the people have the power to change nonsensical bills. Here's how.

By now, you've probably heard about North Carolina's HB2 "bathroom bill" — or at least the response to it.

Even if you're not typically someone who follows North Carolina state politics (there are only so many hours in the day), it's likely you've seen stories about musicians like Bruce Springsteen boycotting the state, the NBA moving its 2017 all-star game to Louisiana, a Broadway composer speaking out, or the NCAA adjusting its tournament schedule as a result of the March 2016 law.

In September 2016, the NCAA announced it would move seven championship games out of the state. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.


The part of the law that's received the most focus has to do with whether transgender people should be allowed to use bathrooms that match their gender identity (as they have been, to your knowledge or not, for pretty much forever).

The law's proponents believe trans people should have to use bathrooms that match whatever gender is on their birth certificate — a legal document that is notoriously difficult, and sometimes impossible, to update — which causes a host of issues we've written about before.

North Carolina's Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the controversial bill into law in March 2016. Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images.

In other words, it's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad law. On top of that, just 32% of the state's voters approve of it, the cancelled events and boycotts aren't exactly helping the state's economy, it's giving the governor headaches in his re-election bid, and lawmakers have had to allocate $500,000 in emergency funding for the law's legal defense.

So, why do legislatures sometimes pass unpopular laws that don't seem to make sense? It's complicated (and very frustrating).

The same goes for questions about why sometimes things that are very popular don't become law no matter how much of a slam dunk they seem. (For example, requiring background checks before purchasing a gun is supported by nearly 90% of Americans, but there's still not been a lot of lawmaking movement on that issue.)

In a 2013 article for the National Review (later republished by The Atlantic), authors Elahe Izadi and Clare Foran explore this issue, landing on something most of us would probably rather not have to deal with: "procedural shenanigans." That phrase, used in the article by an aide to Senator Harry Reid, sums up many of the baffling struggles that exist in the legislative process.

Let's take a look at a real-life example of "procedural shenanigans": our response to the Zika virus.

A real-life example would be something like what's currently going on with Zika funding. Hopefully, we can all agree that the Zika virus is bad (it is), and that the federal government is needed to help fight it (they should). Well, currently, $1.1 billion in funding is being held up in Congress.

Who's fault is this? Well, if you listen to Republicans, it's the Democrats' fault.

But if you ask Democrats, it's the Republicans' fault.

The truth is that this funding is being held up by things that have nothing to do with the Zika virus — they're only tangentially related to the issue. In this case, it's a battle over whether or not we should ban the Confederate flag from flying in veterans' cemeteries (Republicans are against this ban) or if Planned Parenthood should be blocked from receiving additional funding (Democrats are against this block).

Mosquitoes carry the Zika virus. Photo by Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images.

It's frustrating, but it happens all the time. Legislators will try to hold certain bills hostage to get something else they want. Or maybe they'll try to tack on an amendment designed to torpedo the bill (also known as a poison pill). This is politics as usual, but it's not right.

That's why it's important to hold lawmakers accountable. Whether this is about the bill in North Carolina, the holdup on the Zika funding, or anything else, we have leverage of our own.

Elected officials are meant to represent the views of their constituency. While we can write letters to our state, local, and federal representatives urging votes on clean pieces of legislation, that's not all. We can protest, we can make our voices heard, and we can make it known that we don't stand for a piece of legislation.

A popular hashtag for opponents of HB2 is #WeAreNotThis. Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.

And if that doesn't work, we can vote officials out and try again with someone new. It's easy to feel helpless when it comes to politics, but as a voter, you're anything but.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

It's always a good time to register to vote. If you're not already, take a few moments today to take control of your power.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

The Hill/Twitter

It was a mere three weeks ago that President Biden announced that the U.S. would have enough vaccine supply to cover every adult American by the end of July. At the time, that was good news.

Today, he's bumped up that date by two full months.

That's great news.

In his announcement to the nation, Biden outlined the updated process for getting the country immunized against COVID-19.


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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

via wakaflockafloccar / TikTok

It's amazing to consider just how quickly the world has changed over the past 11 months. If you were to have told someone in February 2020 that the entire country would be on some form of lockdown, nearly everyone would be wearing a mask, and half a million people were going to die due to a virus, no one would have believed you.

Yet, here we are.

PPE masks were the last thing on Leah Holland of Georgetown, Kentucky's mind on March 4, 2020, when she got a tattoo inspired by the words of a close friend.

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via ABC News

Julia Tinetti, 31, and Cassandra Madison, 32, first met in 2013 while working at The Russian Lady, a bar in New Haven, Connecticut, and the two immediately hit it off.

"We started hanging out together. We went out for drinks, dinner," Julia told "Good Morning America." "I thought she was cool. We hit it off right away," added Cassandra

The two also shared a strong physical resemblance and matching tattoos of the flag of the Dominican Republic. They had a bond that was so unique, even their coworkers thought there must be something more happening.

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