A Summer of Equality: Momentum Builds for Marriage Equality in the Courts

After decades of fighting for the rights of same-sex couples to marry, supporters of marriage equality experienced an amazing summer, full of numerous victories in courts throughout the country.

Since the beginning of June 2014, the one year anniversary of United States v. Windsor, courts ruled or upheld rulings that same-sex couples have a right to marry and that marriages performed in other states must be recognized in the following states: Colorado (state and federal courts), Florida (federal court), Indiana (federal & Seventh Circuit courts), Oklahoma (Tenth Circuit Court), Utah (Tenth Circuit), and Wisconsin (federal & Seventh Circuit courts). In a separate court case than the one mentioned above before the federal and Seventh Circuit, a federal court also ruled that marriages performed in other states must be recognized in Indiana.

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Working Towards a More Just World for People with Disabilities in 5775

In the midst of the month of Elul, a period of reflection, repentance and forgiveness, it is important for us to not only reflect on our shortcomings as individuals in the past year but also on our shortcomings as a community. Too often our communities, whether religious or secular, fail to create truly inclusive environments for all individuals, including people with disabilities. As we approach the year 5775, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must reflect on our efforts to include people with disabilities and make a commitment to make 5775 a year of active inclusivity. Ultimately, as individuals, as communities and as global citizens, we have the power to create a more just and equitable world for people with disabilities.

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Jewish Clergy for Immigration Reform

Pursuing Timely Justice for Immigrant Families

One of the coolest parts so far about working as a legislative assistant at the RAC is the opportunity to learn about such a wide array of political issues. Coming into the job, I knew almost every bill going through Congress that dealt with U.S.-Israel relations, but aside from that I never had the time or the resources to learn the legislative landscape for issues like reproductive rights or health care or climate change. I was always passionate about those issues and I knew what I wanted out of government policy for them, but I lacked a real sense of how our government was trying to make (or not to make) those policies a reality.

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Barbara Weinstein

This Week at the RAC: Rabbi Saperstein 40 Year Anniversary, People’s Climate March

Tuesday marked a milestone in RAC history. 40 years ago this week, a young David Saperstein drove from New York to DC to begin work as the RAC’s director. As Eric Yoffie wrote, “Today, Rabbi Saperstein bears the distinct badge of honor of being the longest-serving faith leader representing a national denomination in Washington. And we, the nation and the world, are all the better for those many years of service.” I know you join all of us in wishing David “mazal tov” on this anniversary.
The second floor of the RAC is a bit quiet today. Our program team of Michael Namath, Shira Zemel, Daniel Landesberg and Ariella Yedwab – along with all the LAs – are at a retreat to prepare for our upcoming program season. We’re all looking ahead to the first L’Taken that begins on December 12 – and that is already sold out!

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People's Climate March on September 21

Putting a Face on Climate Change

by Barbara Lerman-Golomb

Fourteen years ago I was a coordinator for the national Million Mom March for sensible gun legislation. At a Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) conference a few months later in Washington, DC, I addressed the group saying that what we needed was a march to protect the planet.

At the Million Mom March we invited families who had lost a loved one to gun violence up to the stage on the Washington Mall. One by one they shared their stories about a parent, a brother, a child who had been killed. Over time, we’ve come to understand that gun violence is an issue of public health. Similarly, I thought at an eco march, we could have individuals whose lives and health had been impacted by environmental degradation and assaults on their air, land and water, tell their stories—all in an effort to put a face on climate change.

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Celebrating a Milestone for VAWA

By Debbie Rabinovich

This week marks a major milestone for me: I am turning 18. The Big One-Eight. I love the number 18. The number 18 means that I get to vote. I can donate blood. I can go on Birthright. In Hebrew, the number 18 is the gematria for the word chai, or life.

One thing I like to do on birthdays is look up the date to see what else happened on that day in history. On my own birthday, September 13th, plenty of bad things happened. The first fatal automobile accident. The death of critically acclaimed rap artist Tupac Shakur. However, one really good thing happened: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed. VAWA is just a little bit older than me; in fact, the Act reaches a major milestone this week as well: its 20th anniversary. I am lucky to have lived my whole life in a world where our government recognizes that domestic violence is a moral abhorrence all too prevalent in our society.

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Not Just GOTV: Getting DC The Right To Vote and Have Elected Representation

During election season, a time when all 50 states are choosing elected officials to represent them on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures, we cannot forget about the constituency denied access to this fundamental right: residents of the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital. The citizens of the District of Columbia lack full representation in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

However, we have reason to hope for change.  For the first time in twenty years, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will be having a full committee hearing on DC Statehood, “Equality for the District of Columbia: Discussing the Implications of S. 132, The New Columbia Admission Act of 2013” on Monday at 3 pm.

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Youth GOTV

Get Out the Vote: A Guide for First-Time Voters

Election Day 2014 (Tuesday November 4) is right around the corner, and we hope that you will exercise your democratic freedom and vote in this important election!

This election cycle, vital political, economic and moral issues of concern to all Americans are at stake. As Jews and American citizens, we have an obligation to vote in the elections to ensure that our country’s policies at the local, state and national levels reflect our commitment to social justice. Every vote counts and plays a defining role in setting policy agendas.

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