What Will You Do?

A wonderful and thought-provoking essay written by Lincoln County (Oregon) Democratic Party Chair and Central Oregon Coast NOW member, George Polisner.  Thank you George for the wake-up call!
May 31, 2015

Traveling on the subway, walking around in Brooklyn and NY -a powerful concept continued to present itself. Children playing in a schoolyard or sitting with their parent or parents, moms or dads holding their tiny hands while walking around the city.

Through the eyes of a child -beauty and wonder is all around. In a rainbow drawn into the sidewalk, a neon sign, a scooter -simple things bring joy. There is no color barrier -it is a common thread of humanity -you see it in the eyes of every child.

We speak of the American Dream -the house, the picket fence, the absence of intense worry about making rent and our ability to provide a better life for our own children – the next generation.

We all -right and left must take a moment to reflect -are we being responsible stewards to protect this dream -the amazement in a child’s eyes? Or are we allowing this dream to be stolen from us -and more importantly from our children and grandchildren?

I think we have a responsibility to protect nature, our skies, land, mountains, forests; our oceans, rivers and streams. This is not a liberal or conservative idea. I don’t know of any of my conservative friends that want to ruin our oceans or waterways, or allow refineries to emit toxic pollution into communities and towns.

Our responsibility also means the education of our youth is an imperative so future generations are prepared to face the monumental challenges ahead -especially in a global economy and a tense world. This isn’t about wasting money on a bloated and obscure system -that’s the Pentagon’s job.

We must examine how our investment into American society is being appropriated (look at http://nationalpriorities.org/ for more). Our investment is being controlled by those that are elected at the local, state and federal level. Are you happy that 55% of discretionary spending is on military and 6% is spent on education, 3% on science and 2% on transportation (https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/). I’m not happy about it. On both sides we have a great deal of anger and frustration. Democracy is not a spectator sport -we must all participate for it to work. I hear many of my friends on the left talk about these elections and express “two sides of the same coin -so I’m out”. Do you really think a House led by Paul Ryan, a Senate led by James Inhofe and a President Cruz is the same coin? Really? One look at recent SCOTUS decisions (as well as other high courts) and the clear affinity toward profit greater than people, religion over freedom from religion and other issues (meant to continue to divide us) are readily apparent.

We must vote -and we must do more. We cannot think of our government as a separate entity from us -it is us. At present the unprecedented corrupting influence of obscene wealth (to steal from our future) is profound. We must remember however -regardless of race, gender, beliefs, orientation, age -and the array of issues intended to divide and continue to conquer us -we are many. We are the 99%. Think about that. We must elect representatives and hold them accountable to represent the will of “We the People”. We must rise up and march together for the promise of America that is within our grasp.

I’m convinced that 2016 is pivotal for all of us. And 2016 is coming. Let’s start a revolution at the voting booths. One if by land, two if by sea? They are here and so is our moment in history.

What will you do?

National Organization for Women (NOW) Condemns Governor Jindal’s “Marriage and Conscience” Executive Order

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

Washington, D.C. – The National Organization for Women (NOW) condemns Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s Executive Order BJ 15-8, a measure that uses religion to justify discrimination and denial of basic rights to same-sex couples.

NOW has decided not to cancel our annual national conference in New Orleans June 19 – 21, despite Governor Jindal’s homophobic action.  We are thankful that New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu has confirmed that city’s acceptance and welcome to all. With Mayor Landrieu’s Counter Executive Order in mind, we will go forward with the conference.

LGBTQIA rights are among NOW’s core issues.  In our Statement of Purpose NOW makes clear that the organization promotes “freedom from discrimination because of race, ethnic origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation/identity, gender identity, gender expression, or parenthood.”   Many of NOW’s members, including in elected leadership positions, are LGBTQIA.  We will not rest until full civil and human rights are recognized for all LGBTQIA persons throughout our country — including in Louisiana.

Despite the gains made in recent years, women still face challenges in many spheres. This is particularly true in Louisiana, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation and has done little to narrow its gender and gender-race wage gaps, end employment discrimination, improve access to comprehensive healthcare or provide support for pregnancy, childbirth and raising children.  Governor Jindal’s cynical use of religion as a rationalization to discriminate against same-sex couples adds to the challenges faced by lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in the state.

In a 2013 poll conducted by LSU Public Policy Research Lab the people of Louisiana showed overwhelming support for treating LGBTQIA people fairly.  Mayor Landrieu has reaffirmed that support for fair treatment in his Counter-Executive Order to Governor Jindal’s Order stating that New Orleans “is an accepting, inviting city that thrives on its diversity and welcomes people from all walks of life with open arms.”  NOW looks forward to that welcome in New Orleans.


Elise Coletta , elise@now.org , (951) 547-1241