Paul Cienfuegos’ April 26th, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
Each week I share stories with you about the rapidly growing Community Rights movement across the US. With very few exceptions, most of the 200 communities that have passed these local right-of-self-government ordinances have focused on environmental protection – banning corporate fracking, water withdrawal for bottling, factory farms, etc. Up until now, the primary exception has been Spokane, Washington, which has been working hard to pass a ‘Worker Bill of Rights’ through the ballot box. But now, there’s a second and very exciting and unusual addition to our collection of local ordinances passed to date. Last month, a small New Hampshire community decided to respond directly to the creeping fascism that is seeping out of the mouths of leading Republican presidential candidates.
Today, I’m going to read from a recent press release from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (or CELDF), and I’ll let their words tell today’s story….
On Saturday, March 12th, residents of the Town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, took an unprecedented step at their annual Town Meeting, unanimously enacting a “Community Bill of Rights” law establishing the right to be free from religious identification requirements. The first-in-the-nation law was drafted at the Town’s request by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (or CELDF) to protect Barnstead residents from political and civil persecution based on their religious beliefs.
The passage of the ‘Right to be Free From Religious Identification Ordinance’ comes during the 2016 presidential election campaign in which Republican candidate Donald Trump spoke of the possibility of requiring people to carry religious identification cards.
Thomas Linzey, CELDF Executive Director stated, “Religious identification laws, as the Ordinance explains, hearken back to dark periods in history, when people of Jewish and other faiths were required to identify themselves by wearing badges and carrying special identification. The community of Barnstead passed this law to protect their people against discrimination and persecution based on religious belief.”
CELDF has been working with New Hampshire residents to advance Community Rights for over a decade. Barnstead, New Hampshire’s adoption of this Ordinance is the most recent expansion of CELDF’s Community Rights work, which began with a focus on the environment and is now expanding to include social and economic justice issues.
CELDF Community Organizer Michelle Sanborn declared, “The Community Rights Movement in New Hampshire applauds this latest expansion of Community Rights by the people of Barnstead, and the growing coalition of communities working to drive the right of local, community self-government into our New Hampshire Constitution.”
During the current New Hampshire legislative session, State Representative Susan Emerson and several of her colleagues sponsored the Community Rights state constitutional amendment (CACR 14) which was drafted by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network in partnership with CELDF. The measure had an initial hearing in February. Supporters are now preparing to reintroduce the measure in the new legislative session in 2017.
New Hampshire communities [are] part of [a] growing national movement. Stated Sanborn, “With the introduction of the Community Rights state constitutional amendment, we are advancing the right to local self-government in New Hampshire. Representative Emerson and her colleagues, with their support of the state constitutional amendment, are making history alongside the communities of New Hampshire and hundreds of other communities across the United States.”
I have been reading from a press release dated March 12th from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (or CELDF), which is the leading organization nationally in the development and growth of the Community Rights movement. To learn more about the Community Rights-based state constitutional amendment effort in New Hampshire, visit NHCommunityRights.org. CELDF’s website can be viewed at CELDF.org. And to read the full text of the ‘Right to be Free From Religious Identification Ordinance’ passed unanimously by the voters of Barnstead, New Hampshire, on March 12th, click on this link, and scroll down to Item #25.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.
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