Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage… and Demand a New Voting Right Act


Yesterday was a happy, happy day. The Supreme Court struck two powerful blows for equality: forcing the Federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, and effectively overturning Prop 8 and alloweing same-sex marriage in California. Yay!

But the day before yesterday was a fucking travesty. The Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, effectively gutting the act. The tl;dr: The Voting Rights Act recognized that some states have a lousy track record of actively and systematically stopping some people — most notably black people — from voting… and it required those states to get federal approval when they changed their voting laws.

That’s now gone.

So now these states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) can enact restrictive voter ID laws that placee a disproportionate burden on poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can gerrymander their voting districts to disenfranchise poor people, young people, and racial minorities… without any federal oversight. They can set up different voting rules and regulations in different districts, making it easier to vote in rich, white, conservative districts, and harder to vote in poor, non-white, progressive districts… without any federal oversight.

And they’re going to. They’re already doing it. Within two hours of the Supreme Court decision, Texas passed a voter ID law that the Federal government had quashed after VRA mandated review.

Think this doesn’t affect you? Think again. To give just one example: You know Wendy Davis, the amazing Texas state senator whose filibuster stopped a draconian anti-abortion bill from passing? Republicans have already tried to gerrymander her out of her district. Now that the Voting Rights Act has been gutted, that’s suddenly going to be a whole lot easier for them.

This affects all of us. If you give a damn about citizens in this country being able to vote… this affects you. If you give a damn about the fundamental moral principle that citizens being able to vote, without pointless roadblocks being thrown in their way because they won’t vote the way the entrenched power interests want them to… this affects you. If you give a damn about the way that the principle of democracy in this country is gradually being chipped away at, bit by bit… this affects you.

We can’t let the happy news about same-sex marriage lull us into complacency. There is hard work ahead.

The NAACP has a petition in place already, pressing Congress to enact a new Voting Rights Act, one that the Supreme Court can’t gut on the specious grounds that the old one is out of date. Sign it. And then throw some money their way — every penny helps. And spread the word about it: tell your friends, spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, do whatever you can to raise the alarm. And get onto other ways to support them and take action.

And if you have other suggestions about hard action that we can take on this, or other organizations that are working on this, please speak up in the comments.

If you’re at all into this social justice/ intersectionality thing… put your money, or your time, or your voice, where your mouth is. Thanks.

Comments

  1. ischemgeek says

    I’ll donate & spread on Twitter and a couple forums I frequent. Can’t write my rep or sign the petition because I’m in Canadian.

  2. says

    And note that when the Voting Rights Act was first passed, it was passed with an overwhelming majority in both houses of Congress. And every time it has come up for renewal, it has passed by bigger margins than ever before.

    But the will of the people doesn’t seem to carry much weight with this court, when ignoring it will further a conservative, racist agenda.

  3. TooManyJens says

    ischemgeek, they have an address at the bottom of the page where you can send a check.

    My suggestions for action:

    * If there’s a Democratic group marching in your local July 4 parade (there always is in ours), march with them and carry a pro-VRA sign or wear a T-shirt with a pro-VRA message. What could be more patriotic than protecting everyone’s right to vote? Hell, you can try the Republicans too if you want.

    * If you have a representative or senator who voted to renew the VRA in 2006, write to them and write a letter to the editor of your paper calling upon them to be consistent and pass a new preclearance formula.

    * The July 4 recess is coming up, so if you can, make an appointment at your representative’s district office and speak with them or a staffer directly. Bring a group. There are some Republican representatives who are interested in restoring the VRA, including Sensenbrenner, Chabot, and Duffy. (http://thehill.com/homenews/house/307989-gops-sensenbrenner-wants-update-of-voting-rights-act). If you have a Republican representative, mention this — they might feel that it would give them some cover.

    * Contact John Boehner and Bob Goodlatte (House Judiciary Chairman) and demand they let a bill come to a vote.

  4. triple3a says

    I just donated $50 and I am more than happy to do so.

    I’m kind of ashamed to admit this, but I’m sort of glad the Republican, right-leaning faction in this country is making its bigotry transparently known at this particular moment in history, as it seems to be mobilizing the progressive, freedom-loving people of the United States to fight them into the irrelevance and obsolescence they so richly deserve. Their “dog whistling” tactics are pretty much a bad joke and future generations are going to laugh at them.

  5. triple3a says

    Also, here’s a useful site. It tracks those U.S. states that require photo identification in order to vote.

    Bookmark it and pass it on to those who may have to produce this type of ID to vote in the future. Might as well be proactive if you have no choice.

  6. says

    But the will of the people doesn’t seem to carry much weight with this court, when ignoring it will further a conservative, racist agenda.

    My take on the whole thing was pretty much this:

    Scene: On the way to the polls.
    Conservative: Stab! “Oh my, where did that dagger in your back just come from? How about I help you to the hospital, so you won’t be late for your gay wedding later!”

    Bets on these clowns, if an argument over the power of gods came up, would vote to have the detracting judges drink poison, a la Socrates, to “prove which one of us is right”. Though, that probably wouldn’t be “Biblical” enough for them.

  7. julie says

    When the issue of voter IDs comes up, I can’t help thinking that you guys in the US need something like a national ID. Here (in Slovakia), you automatically get a state-issued picture ID (called “a citizen’s card”) when you turn 15 (or get awarded citizenship) for a small administrative fee. This is the ID you use for voting and just about everything else. Now, I know it would not be feasibile to suddenly issue such IDs for all American citizens above the age of 15 (or any other age), but maybe there is something to creating some kind universally accepted and hard-to-fake IDs. Of course, this would have to be done in a way that would not favor one group of people over another.

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