Stephanie and I met over the issue of ex-felon voting rights. As each of us represented a non-profit organization that opposed the disenfranchisement of ex-felons, we began to see each other more and more at meetings as the movement progressed. We became friends.
After a period of months, we became very good friends. Soon, we started to date. Our friends noticed that we were dating and asked us when we were going to get married. We sort of joked and said: “When ex-felons get their voting rights restored.” Several months after that, Governor Vilsack’s legal counsel, Gary Dickey, called me to inform me that Governor Vilsack was going to announce at a media conference that he would be signing an executive order on July 4th, restoring voting rights to thousands of ex-felons.
Once Governor Vilsack signed Executive Order 42 we kept seeing each other. We became best friends, and I asked Stephanie to marry me. We were married in October of 2005 and many of our friends who helped with the movement to gain voting rights for ex-felons attended our small wedding in the back yard.
Last Friday, in the second action of the new administration, Governor Branstad signed Executive Order 70, which rescinds the July 4, 2005 action of Governor Vilsack. A reasonable person might come to the conclusion that, since the voting rights of ex-felons are jeopardized, this could weaken our marriage. Oh, quite contrary! Our love grows deeper (if that’s even remotely possible) as we gear up to fight for the rights of the disenfrachised – most of whom are dirt poor.
Why does this society continue to throw rocks at poor people? The only real power most poor citizens possess is the power to elect their community leaders. Disenfranchisement prevents a true representative form of government.
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