What to do this week of April 1, 2018
Americans of Conscience Checklist
By Jen Hofmann
73 weeks down, 31 weeks to midterms. Closer every day.
This checklist features clear, hype-free actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and decency. Additionally, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration to stay engaged.
New: You’ll see approximate times for completing each task. This week, we’re making a difference together in under 45 minutes.
I value democracy.
Action: Advocate for your right to free speech. (4 min)
Call: If you live in AL, GA, IL, IA, KY, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, OH, PA, VA, WA, or WI, contact your 2 state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi, I’m a constituent from [ZIP] calling to oppose legislation restricting the right of [staters] to protest. This Constitutional right is fundamental to a healthy democracy. I would like reassurance that [name] will vote against measures to limit the First-Amendment rights of his/her constituents.
Bonus: If you know anyone who lives in the states above, please share.
I value equality.
Stand with your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability. Out of many, we are one.
Action: Stand with LGBTQ youth. (5 min)
Call: Or write your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP]. I’m calling to ask [name] to co-sponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act. It prohibits discrimination against students in grades K-12 because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Since no federal law protects LBGTQ youth and they are at greater risk of suicide, this legislation would help make a positive difference in our schools.
Action: Stand with Americans who are poor, disabled, or unable to work. (3 min)
Write: Your state Medicaid director (look up, skip map, scroll down for address).
Script: Dear [Name], I am deeply concerned about the new policy allowing states to deny medical care to vulnerable citizens. With the majority of Medicaid enrollees already working, in school, or medically unable to work, this agenda is a waste of taxpayer money. It also penalizes people living in poverty and with disabilities, risks their health, and cuts off a powerful poverty-reducing program. I believe we should care for our neighbors in need. Please support Medicaid without strings for all [Staters] who need it. Thank you. Name, address
Action: Stand for basic human decency.
Call: Your 2 senators (look up). (3 min)
Script: Hi. I’m a constituent from [ZIP] calling to ask [name] to reject Mike Pompeo, nominee for Secretary of State, and Gina Haspel, nominee for CIA Director. Both are unfit. Mike Pompeo’s history of anti-Muslim sentiment is un-American, and Gina Haspel’s Thailand torture past is an affront to basic human decency. When the time comes to vote, I’m counting on [name] to do the right thing and reject both.
Action: Stand with military personnel against discrimination. (5 min)
The president released a new policy banning “transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria” from military service.
Donate: To Lambda Legal and Outserve SLDN who are suing to block this ban.
Bonus: If you know or are a transgender person hoping to serve (or serving) in the military, fill out the Lambda Legal form to contribute to arguments being presented in court.
Action: Stand with survivors of sexual harassment. (3 min)
Call: Or write your 2 senators if they are male (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] concerned about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. The House has unanimously passed legislation reforming the Congressional Accountability Act, and all 22 female senators, Democrat and Republican, are asking for support. Does [name] support moving this legislation forward? If so, what is he doing to make it happen?
Bonus: If your senator(s) are female, thank them for standing up for women who have experienced sexual harassment and discrimination on Capitol Hill (look up).
Action: Stand with your neighbors who are subject to unfair sentencing. (4 min)
This is important, so bear with me for three facts:
- No one has more power to sentence people than your county’s District Attorney (DA).
- Your county’s DA decides how severe sentences are and how fairly people of color are treated in sentencing.
- In most counties, you elect your DA. This means you can profoundly impact justice and fairness by making an informed vote.
Watch: How Massachusetts is holding their DAs accountable (video). (3 min)
Call: Your county’s DA office to ask if the position is elected or appointed. (1 min)
I value secure, convenient voting and fair elections.
Democracy thrives when all citizens can freely elect those who represent their values.
Action: Spread the word of imminent registration deadlines in four states. (2 min)
Indiana: Register by Monday, April 9, 2018 online (required documents).
Ohio: Register by Monday, April 9, 2018 online (required documents).
North Carolina: Register by Friday, April 13 with printable form.
West Virginia: Register by Tuesday, April 17 online (required documents).
If you know people in those states, reach out to remind them to register.
Action: Stand with your neighbors and their right not to be silenced. (5 min)
Call: Or write your state Attorney General (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m a resident of [state] calling/writing to express my concern about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 US Census. As you know, citizenship is already tracked in other federal surveys. Adding it to the upcoming decennial census wastes taxpayer dollars, undercounts communities of color, and affects congressional representation and distribution of funding. I would like [name] to join the lawsuit by several states’ Attorneys General to stop this discriminatory agenda. Thank you. Name, Address
Bonus: Call your 1 House rep and ask them to support a fair, reliable census by co-sponsoring H.B. 5359 (look up). (2 min)
I value showing respect for all people, no matter where they were born.
People who immigrate to the US make our country stronger and build our economy. As our neighbors and as fellow human beings, they are entitled to basic respect and compassion.
Action: Become a pen friend with someone in immigration detention. (ongoing)
The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) works to protect refugees, children, and migrants in the US. Their pen pal program offers connections for those in immigration detention to uplift them and bring hope.
Sign up: https://www.lirs.org/connect-with-a-pen-pal-in-detention.
Action: Stand up for detained people’s need to access basic medical care. (5 min)
Email: Or write your 2 senators and 1 House rep (look up).
Script: I’m a constituent from [ZIP] concerned about the poor oversight of privately-run ICE detention centers. 12 people died in detention in 2017, mostly due to inadequate access to medical care. My tax dollar is funding this. With almost 40,000 people currently in ICE detention, the need for adequate healthcare and oversight is urgent. I would like you to actively support providing health care for detained immigrants and push for stringent inspections of privately-owned ICE detention facilities. No matter their status, we must treat all people with basic decency. Thank you.
Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut…
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) for sponsoring legislation that protects kids from discrimination in school. LGBTQ youth are at a much higher risk of suicide, and this legislation sends a clear message they are okay just the way they are. Thank you!
Address: 30 West Mifflin Street, Suite 700, Madison, WI 53703
Thank Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who spoke against President’s Trump ban on transgender persons serving in the armed forces. I agree with your statement that anyone willing to lay down their life for the country should be welcomed to the military. Thank you.
Address: 733 Federal Building, 210 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
Thank Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for ensuring workers keep their tips by adding a rider that amends the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of the omnibus spending bill. I appreciate your advocacy for hard-working Americans. Thank you!
Address: 2988 Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98174
Thank Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) for supporting secure elections. Your work to include $380 million to improve election security and protect voting infrastructure is an incredible act of statesmanship. Voting is vital to a healthy democracy. Thank you.
Address: 2000 West First Street, Suite 508, Winston-Salem, NC 27104
Thank Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for standing up for election integrity and condemning the president for congratulating Vladimir Putin on his election win. Your legacy is a treasure to our country. Thank you.
Address: 2201 East Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix, AZ 85016
Thank Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) for signing into law a package of measures aimed at increasing voter participation including automatic registration, election day/same day registration, and pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds.
Address: PO Box 40002, Olympia, WA, 98504-0002
Thought-provoking, in-depth reading that’s worth your time.
- For-profit prisons: The biggest lobby no one is talking about (Washington Post).
- What really happened with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (Chris Kavanagh).
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look.
- 15 senators publicly oppose closing of the Office for Access to Justice.
- Lawsuits protest the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
- US Supreme Court says the state of Arizona cannot prevent DACA recipients from getting driver’s licenses.
- FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has proposed a rule to drastically lower the nicotine levels in cigarettes intended to reduce deaths from smoking.
- Lawmakers rejected spending cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Services in their omnibus appropriations bill.
- Federal Chief District Judge Julie Robinson severely criticizes Kris Kobach for ignoring her orders in advance of her ruling on contempt charges.
- San Diego senator Toni Atkins became the first woman to be named president pro tem in the California State Senate.
- The ACLU and Georgia settled a voter status lawsuit, allowing voters who move within their county to remain on the “active” list.
- Revised Virginia ballot instructions clarify what voters should do if they incorrectly mark the ballot.
- WA Governor Jay Inslee signs legislation to automatically register citizens when obtaining a driver’s license or ID card.
- Maryland will become the 11th state to allow automatic voter registration once the governor signs the bill.
- 14 states and Guam have introduced automatic voter registration bills in 2018.
- 20 states plan to address the gender pay gap by barring prospective employers from asking job applicants what they currently earn.
- WI Governor Scott Walker was ordered to call special elections in two unrepresented state legislative districts.
- Federal judge orders FL Governor Rick Scott to create a new process by 4/26 to restore the voting rights of citizens returning from prison.
- Indiana voters can now send a text message to register to vote online.
- ACLU sues New Hampshire for using amateur handwriting analysis to disqualify ballots without notifying voters, many of whom are disabled or elderly.
- Citibank institutes policies to prevent gun violence.
- Numerous companies pull ads from FOX’s The Ingraham Angle to protest Ingraham’s insults of Parkland student, Davig Hogg.
- Outdoor brands are unifying to protect public lands.
- Los Angeles County is providing permanent supportive housing and medical care to its homeless—and saving 20% on overall costs.
- DeAndre Harris, the man attacked during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA—and later charged with misdemeanor assault for the same incident—was found not guilty.
- Starkville, Mississippi LGBTQ activists overcame city officials’ disapproval and held the town’s first Pride Parade.
- Milwaukee’s city council voted to protect LGBTQ youth by becoming the first municipality in Wisconsin to ban “gay conversion therapy.”
Groups and organizations
- Students show intersectional leadership by elevating Black and Latinx voices in massive nationwide protest against gun violence.
- Student-led march of 800,000 in DC and 800 sister marches around the world, advocating for kids’ lives.
- The Genesis Prize Foundation and 2017 Genesis Prize Laureate Anish Kapoor announced a $100,000 challenge grant to help local faith leaders advocate in support of immigrants and refugees.
- The award-winning “Indian Country Today” has reopened under the non-profit ownership of the National Congress of American Indians.
- Milwaukee (WI) married dads open a small group home for LGBTQ foster youth, providing a safe home for those often traumatized by traditional foster care.
- 13 year old Autumn Peltier is nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize for her work protecting sacred water.
- Connecting newly-arrived refugees with the resources they need becomes one woman’s passion.
- Codey Babineaux got into Princeton. #joy
- The Pope kneels in an Italian prison to wash the feet of Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Buddhist, and Catholic prisoners alike, offering compassion and non-judgment.
- See more good news at Small Victories, Marla’s Good News, and What Went Right.
3 announcements and a request
Soon! More ways to spread the Checklist: Months of planning are coming together! Next week, we’re launching pages on Twitter and Facebook where you can get bite-sized daily actions. We’ll also soon have an official website and printable info about the Checklist to share at in-person events. This exciting progress is thanks to many talented volunteers and professionals.
A request: About two thirds of my working hours are devoted to producing the Checklist and managing our amazing teams. I sent out the checklist late this week because I’m trying to juggle my professional work and this incredible effort. Can you help me get to 3/4 support? It will only help to improve the quality of the actions you receive each week and make a huge difference to this working writer.
The best support of all is to share the AoC Checklist far and wide so that we add to the chorus of voices for democracy and fairness. Here’s the link to do that: https://goo.gl/42mAqs
- Sign up: Subscribe to the weekly Americans of Conscience Checklist here.
- Stay inspired: Complete the Self-Care Worksheet.
- Stay focused: Complete the Action Worksheet (or Kelly Wooten’s artistic version).
- Connect: If you have a question, correction, or action suggestion. With thanks!
- Get answers: Here’s the FAQ page.
- Nerd out: See archives of past AoC Checklists here and scroll down.
- Gratitude: Big thanks to the JEBitor, Juana G., Week 1 social media volunteers, the Research Sous Chefs teams, and to the amazing angel patrons who make it possible.
Note: This checklist is always ad-free and no-cost. If you’re able, support Jen’s time on patreon, paypal, or snail mail.