Stunning, frightening, heartbreaking.
A country that can make such a destructive decision is not one that I recognize or to which I can be loyal. To go from the best president of my lifetime to the worst in history is such a betrayal, such an act of contempt, that it calls for resistance. Do we accept the disenfranchisement of black voters about which officials openly boasted? Do we accept the staggering misogyny that prefers dynamiting the country's foundations to choosing a highly qualified woman over an ignorant bully? Do we forgive our neighbors and family members for taking part in something this despicable? Do we sit politely and talk of healing as our beloved nation slits its own throat?
This cannot be accepted. We must not accept it. Our nation has been savagely attacked from within, far worse than the attacks of 9/11. Shall we respond placidly to an act of war? I cannot.
I have worked within the system for nearly four decades for change. This morning all of that for which generations have worked faces reversal. I and those I love face erasure. My conscience and my soul cry out for rebellion and resistance. We cannot plaster this over. The rain and storm will come, and down will come the wall. Prepare for the fight of our lives.
On Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 1) the Death with Dignity Act passed first reading at the DC Council by a vote of 11-2. (Dissenting were CMs Alexander and Nadeau.) Most advocates on both sides (I have testified and lobbied in favor on behalf of GLAA) have been civil toward one another during the process leading up to today's vote. Health Committee Chair Yvette Alexander, for example, held a committee markup on the bill despite her personal opposition.
But one opponent was quite exercised as today's meeting was about to begin, threatening to defeat every Councilmember who supported the bill. (Good luck with that, lady, since most Washingtonians disagree with you.) She even gave a dressing down to bill supporter Romaine Thomas, a beloved local figure who is widow and mother of past council members and a longtime public servant in her own right. The angry woman refused even to shake Romaine's hand; I, as usual, had embraced Mrs. Thomas, asked after her family (her grandson is in college), and said I was glad we were on the same side.
John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, among other things, points out that the would-be strongman who is the Republican nominee for president wants to fill Guantánamo with prisoners and doesn't care about questions of constitutionality.
The D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services held a markup of Bill 21-38, the Death with Dignity Act, on Wednesday, October 5 at 2 pm. I was there with fellow supporters of the bill.
Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), the committee chair, spoke against the bill. She insisted that the matter should be decided by voter initiative. No. We elect representatives to deal with difficult matters. But to give her due credit, she did bring the bill up for a vote, keeping her word. That was honorable.
Committee members David Grosso (I-At-Large) and LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) spoke in support, as did the bill's author, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) joined Alexander in speaking against. The bill was then passed by the committee without amendments. It is expected to get its first reading by the full Council at an additional legislative meeting later in October.
After the vote, one woman who opposed the bill, gave a dressing down to May, saying that she had no right to vote for the bill, she had overstepped her authority, and that such a controversial measure should be put before the voters. May, the duly elected legislator representing Ward 8 (though she was defeated in the June 14 primary by Trayon White), stood her ground. She had said that poor residents of her ward could not afford to move to Oregon to take advantage of that state's Death with Dignity statute, which was passed twenty years ago and was the model for the District bill.
The same demand for a plebiscite was made in 2009 and 2010 by opponents of civil marriage equality. They lost before the Board of Elections and Ethics, in the Court of Appeals, and were denied cert by the Supreme Court. If B21-38 passes, opponents can try to do a referendum. Such a course is unlikely to succeed. The opponents inadvertently helped the bill by making eye-stretching arguments. Stating that council members had no right to vote for the bill, preposterous as it was, nicely demonstrated the failure by opponents to grasp the separation of church and state.
Thanks to Councilmembers Cheh, Grosso, and May for voting for the bill, and to committee chair Alexander for bringing it up for a vote.
The world can be cruel, and the presidency carries many thankless tasks. President Obama performed one of them today. It is not popular to consider our strategic interests in such an instance, but the man responsible for sending our children off to war, including the special ops forces he sent to raid bin Laden's compound in 2011, must consider them. Before condemning him, let us imagine the weight of it that he must bear and we do not. Remember Churchill, who could not warn the people of Coventry of the Nazi bombing raid that he knew was coming because it would have tipped off the Germans that Britain had broken the Enigma code. Giving away that secret would almost certainly have led to many more deaths. Even when they do not have my agreement or understanding, those who take on that burden have my respect. And on November 8, we must not confer its terrible responsibility on an ignorant and reckless man.
No other songwriter has equaled the power of Bruce Springsteen's searing ballad of a black mother giving her son The Talk. As timely as when it was written after the police killing of Amadou Diallo, it ends on the plaintive notes of a saxophone played by Bruce's dear friend, the late, great Clarence Clemons. Sadly, those who most needed to receive its message reflexively hardened themselves against it. I ask forgiveness for the hatred their cold and heartless reaction stirs in me still. #BlackLivesMatter
Congrats to freshly minted D.C. Councilmember Robert White (D-At-Large), who was sworn in today after being chosen by the D.C. Democratic State Committee to fill the unexpired term of recently resigned Councilmember Vincent Orange. In the picture below, CM White is joined by infant daughter Madison. Robert earned the highest GLAA rating in the At-Large primary race, which he won in June. He stands for a full term on November 8.
The heartless and inhumane policy of the British Home Office toward LGBT asylum seekers continues unabated. If you pray, pray for this man's safety. We've much more work to do on the international front, even with purported allies.