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Posts Tagged ‘Eleanor Holmes Norton’

DC Voting Rights Put on Hold Again, Gun Provision is the Culprit

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems the gun legislation that the Senate attached to the bill last year is what did the legislation in.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the “price was too high” to include the gun provision, which the NRA lobbied for to be included.

The bill lost the support of the League of Conservation voters, which signaled on Monday that it would not be endorsing the compromise legislation.

The national and local branches of the League of Women Voters and D.C. For Democracy, which bills itself as the city’s largest progressive organization, said Monday they will not support the voting rights bill because it would strip the city of its ability to set its own gun laws. Concerns over the gun amendment have also spurred several D.C. Council members to urge Congress not to vote on the measure, but supporters maintain that a broad coalition is ready to accept the amendment if it means voting rights.

Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and Billie Day, president of the League’s D.C. chapter, said in a joint statement that they reached their decision not to support the measure “reluctantly and sadly, but firmly” because of concerns over the gun amendment.

What a blow to District residents, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Mayor Fenty. All parties have fought hard to get this passed and after waiting more than a year, it seemed the District was close to getting that prized vote in Congress.

Nobody wanted the gun provision included, but at this juncture it made sense to go through with it. Fenty Norton has repeatedly said they could get that language changed once the measure was passed.

Now we’ll never know and District residents will continue their checks to the federal government and also forgo their constitutional guarantee to representation in Congress.

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Happy Emancipation Day! Happy Visitation Rights Day!

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s only a government holiday for the District of Columbia, but it’s a very special one. It’s also extra awesome since Jim gets the day off as a District government employee.

Emancipation Day in a nutshell:

On April 16, 1862, more than eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln signed the act that freed the slaves in the District, and we mark the day to celebrate freedom and reflect on the unfinished work in the pursuit of equal rights.

It’s an important day for the District especially considering the advancements DC voting rights activists have made in the last few years. The holiday is also especially prescient given the news earlier this week that the DC Voting Rights Act is going to receive a floor vote in the House probably late next week….oh and it will be debated with that wretched gun amendment attached to it, too.

[Del. Eleanor Holmes] Norton said that the bill, which would grant the residents of Washington a voting member of Congress, would include a provision enhancing gun owners’ rights in the District, a measure Norton had resisted including.

I’ve got to hand it to Norton on this one. She has proven to be a highly effective voice for the District on this issue and she has been especially strategic about leveraging the political capital her party in the House gained after the 2006 elections and especially after the 2008 elections.

Together with DC Vote, Norton has put together the first bill in a long time that has any hope of passing. Surely the gun amendment has been a tough pill to swallow and it has definitely split District residents. Personally, I don’t think we should kill this bill because of the amendment. We’ve come too far in this fight and the rest of America lives with the Second Amendment just fine.

As Michael O’Brien of  The Hill writes:

Norton said that the strength of pro-gun rights forces in Congress had only grown over the past year, and with the specter of reduced Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate looming after this fall’s elections, she planned to proceed with her bill anyway.

‘I have given this fight all that I had. There is nothing left to do but make the hard decision,” she said. “I believe residents would not want us to pass up this once-in-a-life-time opportunity for the vote they have sought for more than two centuries.’

I”ll take the vote and once we have it we can lobby our representative to introduce legislation to change this law.

Other happy news today?

Obama has made more inroads with the gay community with his announcement today that any hospital that accepts Medicare and Medicaid funds must not discriminate in its visitation rights policies. It does not only apply to LGBT Americans, but to all Americans.

From the President’s memo to the Department of Health and Human Services:

Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

The president and his staff worked behind the scenes on this one and it’s an awesome move on the Administration’s part.

Is today’s news foreshadowing of more favorable legislation to come i.e. ENDA, DADT….DOMA?

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