Friday, July 14, 2006

AJC: Voting Rights Act Ok'd

No one likes to be singled out. And no one likes to be treated differently. But sometimes we put ourselves in situations where that happens justifiably.

For over 40 years now, Georgia has been one of a handfull of states to be held under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yesterday, the House voted to renew our status. Because of our past history of not protecting the voting rights of minorities, we find ourselves right where we are. Those that are angry about this need to be angry, not with the ones who were invovled in this debate yesterday, but with the ones who are responsible for us being there in the first place.

I trust John Lewis. He's earned his say in such matters. He's one of the ones that endured discrimination and absorbed the beatings given to him for demanding equality. Rep. Lewis loves this state. And he loves Georgians. He has a long record of service that attests to that. I don't put one man's or one woman's voice over any other. But on issues of race, John Lewis is the one that I turn to for guidance. It's his opinion that the Voting Rights Act should be renewed. And that's good enough for me.

I'll agree with the Republicans on a couple of things here. We HAVE come a long way. But we are clearly not where we need to be. And yes other states not subjected to the Voting Rights Act are having the same problems we are. But that doesn't mean that we should get a "get out of jail free" card.

I once suggested that we needed to expand the Voting Rights Act to other states. And my reasoning is because of things like the Voter ID bills that are being passed in mutliple states all around the country. These bills are going to disenfranchise people whose voices aren't always heard. Of whatever persuasion they may be - black or white, young or old, - it's disenfranchisement just the same. Passing such bills doesn't exactly inspire confidence in protecting the voting rights of minorities.

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