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LGBTs and workers stand together against Prop 32

Posted: October 5th, 2012 | Columns, Featured, Political Spectrum | No Comments

Allan Acevedo | Political Spectrum

Allan Acevedo

For thousands of voters who vote by mail, Election Day will be heading to a mailbox near you the weekend of Oct. 6. Absentee ballots are expected to arrive the second week in October, just about 30 days before the last day to vote, Nov. 6. For many who believe the actual Election Day is the only day that matters when it comes to our democracy, recognize that in the San Diego June Primary, 66 percent of voters who cast a ballot did so absentee.

If you are not already registered, you have until Oct. 22 to register to vote. California has made it even easier by allowing people to register to vote online. Just got to the Secretary of State’s website at sos.ca.gov/elections and follow the directions.

For those already registered to vote, and for those receiving their ballots in the mail shortly, I want to bring your attention to one of the most important propositions we’ll be voting on this election. While the mayor’s race and other high-profile campaigns have possibly diluted your electoral consciousness, please remember that there will be 11 ballot measures on the ballot.

Proposition 32 may be one of the most misleading and difficult to understand. Prop. 32 purports to create a more even playing field for voices to be heard by eliminating special-interest money by banning unions and corporations from using automatic payroll deductions to gather funds for political purposes.

On its face this sounds like an ideal situation: we limit the influence these institutions have in politics and, in turn, return the power to the individual people. But this is not the case.

Corporations rarely rely on this form of fundraising to inject money in to politics. Instead, they rely on money from corporate executives and company treasuries. Unions rely on small individual deductions from its over 2.5 million members. This measure would do little to limit special interests in politics and do much to create a rigged playing field, in which corporations can donate unlimited and unaccountable funds through super PACs and other independent expenditure committees.

This is fake campaign finance reform. This is reform to limit the voice of the middle class and working class families. This is a blatant power grab to limit the voice of unions and their members, giving big businesses an unfair advantage.

Californians have already twice voted down such phony reform initiatives: in 2005 with Proposition 75 and in 1998 with Proposition 226, we told big businesses and corporations “no.” No to limiting the voice of working families and individuals, and no to creating a two-tier system where corporations can continue to spend as freely as they would like through other avenues.

While unions may have the same avenues open to them, they would be hobbled in their ability to raise the funds to compete.

This issue resonates beyond giving a voice to the working class. It impacts our LGBT community profoundly. Indeed the two communities’ struggles are tied both in our ideals and our history. Creating protections for working people is akin to fighting for and demanding to be treated with fairness and equality. Our struggles are the same, and the tactics used to inhibit fairness from workers are the same used to limit equality for LGBT citizens.

We must recognize the many issues where these two movements converge and advance our common demand for fairness. The labor movement has stood with our community when we were under attack. The California Teachers Union donated over $1.3 million to the “No on Prop 8” campaign in 2008, and the Hotel Workers Union donated $100,000, among many others.

Now it is our turn to stand with organized labor and working families and tell corporate interests they cannot deceive Californians into voting into law an uneven playing field. LGBT Californians and workers are in this struggle together. We are in a common struggle to advance fairness and equality for our families and the next generation to come.

With that in mind, we must ensure that not only are we voting down Prop. 32, but we are talking to our friends, family and neighbors about this initiative. People will be casting their ballots over the next 30 days, and if we don’t start these conversations now, it might be too late come November.

With our combined resolution, we can do much more in advancing protections and freedom for all of us.

—Allan Acevedo is co-founder and president emeritus of Stonewall Young Democrats of San Diego. He has worked on multiple political campaigns and served on numerous boards including the San Diego Democratic Club, California Young Democrats, Gay-Straight Alliant Network and Equality California PAC. Follow @allanacevedo on Twitter.

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