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D.C.'s Youth Speak out on Statehood and Voting Rights E-mail
Ms. McLean strongly supported D.C. becoming a state. Ms. Lyle said it makes her angry that Congress does not give D.C. citizens the same rights and respect as are enjoyed by all other American citizens. Ms. Morris found it constitutionally unethical to limit the democratic rights of District residents when we have more people than Wyoming and it is a state.  "It is time to end this virtual representation and make D.C. an official state of the United States of America." Ms. Brown called D.C. statehood an equity issue.  "We're drafted, taxed without our consent, can't make our own laws or spend our own money without Congressional action." Ms. Femia concluded the hearing by noting, "Yet, as I got older, I began to realize that ... Washington D.C ... isn’t really a part of the Union, just owned by it.  In this city, we are surrounded by symbols of the democracy that we are only partially offered. ... I have learned one thing from the addition of the gun amendment to this DC voting rights legislation: you don’t really have any rights until you have all your rights.  Until then, all you get are favors.  What they give, they can take away."  

Below is their testimony.

1. Voting Rights testimony for DC City Council, Lisa Femia, May 13, 2009

First, I would like to thank Councilman Brown for inviting students to participate today and Principle Cahall and Ms. Caccamise for allowing me to represent the students of Woodrow Wilson High School.  My name is Lisa Femia and I am a junior at Wilson.  I’m very pleased that student opinions and thoughts on this issue are being taken into account. Growing up in DC is different from growing up anywhere else.  When I was younger, my school used to take field trips to the National Mall.  As we toured monuments and government buildings, we were repeatedly preached to about the magnificence of American Democracy.  I was proud of my country.  Yet, as I got older, I began to realize that this magnificence did not entirely apply to me or to my city.  Washington D.C., I discovered, isn’t really a part of the Union, just owned by it.  In this city, we are surrounded by symbols of the democracy that we are only partially offered.  

Now the Voting Rights Act is pending in Congress and we could be close to getting a vote in the House of Representatives. However, I have learned one thing from the addition of the gun amendment to this DC voting rights legislation: you don’t really have any rights until you have all your rights.  Until then, all you get are favors.  What they give, they can take away.  Just as our voting rights bill was so easily stained with the addition of the gun amendment, our sovereignty can be easily discounted.  What is home rule if our elected DC government is subject to the whims and wants of Congress?  I sincerely hope the DC Voting Rights Act passes.  But we cannot forget what it doesn’t include and all that we would still have left to gain.  Please remember that if we eventually get one vote in Congress, we still will not have equal rights.  Until our city council can pass a law and not have it overruled by Congress, we won’t have our rights.  Until we have equal representation, we will not be equal. 

It’s possible that the cause of full and equal representation will have to be passed to Washingtonians of my generation.  Please know that I and others like me will take up that cause gladly and that we will fight for the beautiful and historic city we have grown up in and love.

(Thank you…)

2. Miya Brown on D.C. Statehood before the  DC City Council on May 13, 2009

 

As mentioned earlier by Councilmember Brown, no one intended for the District of Columbia to evolve into a thriving city with businesses and families, and with a governing body, culture, and institutions. As a result, the Constitution should be changed to reflect the change and progress of the present, as it has been amended and changed in the past. Essentially, D.C. statehood is an equity issue. D.C. residents pay taxes and are subjected to the war draft. We cannot pass our own laws and we have no control over the budget and how we spend our money; all because we have no vote in Congress.
Surely, we are subjected to the interests and intentions of the flux of people who come into D.C. unaware of our needs and our issues. These people may be apart of "Official Washington," where our nation's government resides, but they are certainly isolated from the heart of D.C., our lives, our interests, and our problems. They don't see the young people dying as a result of our violence and crime problems. Their children don't attend the schools with broken windows, leaking roofs, and torn textbooks. They don't understand the feeling of helplessness from beinge evicted from their homes as a result of a rise in property value. They simply go home when their work in done.
In a nation where democracy resides, how just is it to allow people from other states to come into our home, use our facilities, run potholes into our streets, and not be able to tax commuters and instead be taxed more than many other states in the U.S., while remaining voteless on the floor of Congress? In fairness, it is only just that based on the founding principles of no taxation without representation, D.C. residents should have and must have voting representation in Congress. Without it, our democratic government continues to take away our voice and refuse to honor the rights we hold as American citizens and as D.C. residents."

 

 
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