Be Active for Statehood

Originally posted on Neighbors United for DC Statehood:

While the nation turns it’s eyes toward the mid-term elections, especially the Senate, we in the District should not lose the momentum from the Senate’s hearing on the statehood bill. Neighbors United for DC Statehood, the DC Statehood Coalition, and others are keeping the pressure on the Senate to build support for the bill this year! You can help in by doing the following:

  1. Call, email, or Tweet to the Senate offices listed here with a simple ask: Please take a stand for fairness & equality by cosponsoring S. 132, #DCstatehood. Here’s how to contact our key target Senators: SenatePriority2014
  2. Join us on November 15th for a DC Statehood Strategy session from 10am-12pm (location TBD)
  3. Take part in a DC Statehood Senate Lobby Day on November 18th!

There’s something for everybody to do and if we all do one simple thing, collectively our individual voices have great power. Let’s…

View original 13 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

High Noon

District voters will vote on whether or not we want to legalize marijuana on November 4, 2014, but our vote will not be the final word on the matter because only in a democracy does the vote of the people count. Recently, New York Times Editorial Board endorsed legalization in the District and other states but it is unfair to lump the District’s efforts with those of Alaska, Oregon, and Washington State and Colorado before us. The comparison is misleading because only in the District of Columbia is the voice and vote of the citizens meaningless and by high noon on November 5, 2014, we should know if ideologues in Congress want to interfere with our new law. We could pass this referendum with an overwhelming majority but one or two members of Congress along with a President averse to standing up for our right to control our own affairs could overturn our vote without our advice or consent.

Policy debates around marijuana have demonstrated that we in the District really are the last colony on American shores. In 1998, District voters with a majority 69% of the vote voted to legalize medical marijuana but Congress, as it is constitutionally allowed to, initially intervened and forbade us from using our own tax dollars to count the votes on the referendum and then used riders from allowing us to implement legalized medical marijuana for over 12 years after we voted for it. Even though the vast majority of our budget comes from locally raised revenue our budget still must be approved by Congress. Congress, our democratically elected legislative branch of government forbade that the District count its own votes. American democracy in not alive and well in the shadows of the Capitol in fact American democracy is denied to those of us living in that building’s shadows.

Earlier this year after the District Council (state legislature) passed a law to decriminalize marijuana Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) began working the Halls of Congress to either overturn our law or to prevent us from spending our own money to implement it. Mr. Harris hails from a state that already has decriminalized marijuana yet he used his perch in Congress in an effort to bully the District and to make a point on a law that he could not even prevent in his home state. Marijuana, abortion, and other policy issues are issues usually left for the states and the courts to deal with except for here in the District. Mr. Harris picked on us because he could and only statehood for the District of Columbia can prevent these efforts to subvert the voice of the people and our elected representatives.

While we have the opportunity to vote on marijuana legalization like the states our path toward legalization will undoubtedly be much rockier. We have no Senators to defend us. We have no voting member of the House to defend us. We have a President who has used us as a bargaining chip in the past simply because he could. We sadly are not a state and time and time again ideologues in Congress remind of us that fact when they act to manipulate our laws or use us as bargaining chips in budget negotiations.

We are not a state and our effort to legalize marijuana cannot be separated for our yearning to be on equal footing with the 50 states. We pay taxes, fight in wars, and fulfill all obligations of American citizenship yet we are denied representation in Congress and are not the final arbiter of our own local affairs. Fundamentally our right to vote is more important than our right to smoke and while we might overwhelmingly vote for marijuana legalization on November 4th come November 5th at high noon there might be a fight a-brewin’ between the District and Congress. I hope we’re ready for it, I am.

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Be Active for Statehood

While the nation turns it’s eyes toward the mid-term elections, especially the Senate, we in the District should not lose the momentum from the Senate’s hearing on the statehood bill. Neighbors United for DC Statehood, the DC Statehood Coalition, and others are keeping the pressure on the Senate to build support for the bill this year! You can help in by doing the following:

  1. Call, email, or Tweet to the Senate offices listed here with a simple ask: Please take a stand for fairness & equality by cosponsoring S. 132, #DCstatehood. Here’s how to contact our key target Senators: SenatePriority2014
  2. Join us on November 15th for a DC Statehood Strategy session from 10am-12pm (location TBD)
  3. Take part in a DC Statehood Senate Lobby Day on November 18th!

There’s something for everybody to do and if we all do one simple thing, collectively our individual voices have great power. Let’s get active for statehood and keep the momentum moving forward.

Josh Burch

unitedforstatehood@gmail.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet-Up for DC Statehood at the Argonaut

Featured imageCome join us at the Argonaut at 1433 H St. NE on Wednesday, October 8th, from 6:30-8pm. We’ll be having a meet-up conveniently located near the intersection of Wards 5, 6, & 7 though all are most welcome. Come join us to learn about what’s been going on in the statehood movement of late, share your ideas on how we can make it better, learn about upcoming events, and ask lots of questions. This will be more of a social gathering than a meeting so come meet your neighbors who are also interested in and or working for statehood.

In addition to being held a great pro-statehood bar & restaurant we’ll have some fun DC history games for attendees, we’ll do some strategic #DCStatehood tweeting (for those who partake in The Twitter), and pick-up your “Statehood for the People of DC” sign. Can we do all of this in just an hour & a half? Yes We Can!

It’ll be a good time so please bring a friend or neighbor!

For more details contact Josh Burch at unitedforstatehood@gmail.com and RSVP on our Facebook Event Page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

President Obama’s ‘To Do’ List for DC Statehood

The Washington Post Editorial Board recently wrote that with two years left in his term President Obama “has time to make a difference with this [statehood] critical matter of civil rights.” Calling for President Obama to create a commission on DC voting rights however, is a far cry from what the District needs from the President. After trying every legislative trick in the book over the last 40 years to incrementally improve our status statehood still remains our ultimate goal. We don’t need a commission to tell us what we already know: statehood is the only permanent path to full equality in the American union, anything short of that is unequal status and thus unacceptable. What we need is not a commission, what we need is leadership and President Obama should step up provide it.

If Mr. Obama wants to make a contribution to the statehood cause, and I surely hope he does, here are four substantive and practical actions that he take to help the cause over the next two years. First, his administration’s silence on the statehood bill’s hearing on September 15th was so glaring that even Senator Coburn brought it up. The record for the hearing is open until September 30th and the President should require that Attorney General Holder, who recently voiced his opinion for full voting rights for the District, to submit testimony in favor of the statehood bill (the time has passed for testimony on the bill). The nation’s chief lawyer should weigh in on why the Administration views the bill as constitutionally sound and morally just.

Second, while the President’s political clout has waned over the last year and a half he still holds great sway with many in the Democratic Party. He should personally request that Democratic Senators and House members cosponsor the legislation before the end of this Congress (and in the 114th Congress) and urge Senator Carper to have a mark-up of the legislation in committee before the year ends or in the new Congress should the Democrats retain the majority in the Senate. The President should also press to have the bill be voted out of committee and then have Senator Reid have the full Senate act on this bill as he previously promised. This issue is a moral issue and the President should urge his party to lead and push it as far as they can before this Congress ends.

Third, in the New Year, the President should commit a portion of his state of the union speech to educating the American public about our status and articulating to them why statehood is the best path forward. The state of the union provides a unique opportunity to inform a nation about a problem that many of them don’t quite understand and it would show his commitment to remedying this injustice. There couldn’t be a better setting than to have a District of Columbia family sitting next to the First Lady in the Presidential Box and have the President look up and say:

“Sitting next to the First Lady is the X family, they are like every other family in America. They work hard, pay taxes, and try to be the best neighbors they can be but they are not like every other American. Unlike the citizens of the 50 states the citizens of the District of Columbia, all 646,000 of them (more than Vermont and Wyoming), are denied representation in Congress and have their locally raised budget manipulated by Congress. The story of the X family and their neighbors in the capital is an affront the principles upon which this country was founded and it is time that America remedies this situation and  it is time for Congress to act to correct this injustice. The people of the District of Columbia fulfill all responsibilities of citizenship and they deserve the full rights of citizenship that only can come through statehood. The time to make a more perfect union is now and we all should support statehood for the people of DC.”

And finally, the while the President might be the leader of his party he is also the leader of the entire nation and should raise this issue across the country when meeting with and speaking to citizens in the 50 states. Statehood won’t become a reality during his Administration but he can push the cause forward like no one else before him thus setting the stage for statehood in the next Administration (hopefully). As the leader of the nation he has a moral obligation to make the case state by state that this system needs to change and that statehood is the answer. No President, since Nixon, has ever lifted a finger to bring about substantive improvements for the District and it’s time that President Obama take a stand for a cause that is right and that is just.

District citizens don’t need a commission to tell us what we want and deserve. What we need leadership and hopefully President Obama will join our movement as an active participant and leader. We have debated and attempted all other legislative options focused on improving the District’s status and statehood remains as the only option that grants us permanent equality. A commission would simply rehash old arguments and offer the failed compromises of the past. Our right to equal treatment should not be subject to compromise.  The President has both an opportunity and responsibility to push this cause forward and I hope that he embraces it, we would welcome his support.

Josh Burch

Brookland, DC

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment