Yes on Three
By Rev. Courtney Jones
Psalm 139 proclaims, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” I believe that all of us are wonderfully made in our diversity. Every person has been made in God’s image — and everyone who lives their truth, and lives authentically, is living the way that I believe God intended. Every person holds something in them that is a reflection of the divine, and that showcases the divine to the rest of the world.
Transgender people go through a unique journey wherein they discover their authentic selves — a fundamental journey we all must take but a journey marked with particular struggles for their unique experience. In my mind, the question of transgender inclusion is a matter of faith: it is an expression of faith in a God who transforms our lives and makes us whole. Living our authentic lives is part of God’s call to us and is part of our spiritual work. In order to do this spiritual work, we need one another. That’s why transgender people are leaders in my congregation and make valuable contributions in the community, and I’m proud to welcome them in my doors. Our transgender neighbors are people of faith with unique contributions to offer, and, like everyone else, we must treat them with dignity and respect. That is why we must vote yes on ballot question 3 in November.
In 2016, at the urging of civic, business and community leaders throughout the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts legislature passed – with a bipartisan, supermajority vote – historic nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public places such as restaurants, stores, and hospitals. Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill in July 2016. Shortly after it went into effect, a small group of opponents gathered the small number of signatures required to place the law on the ballot for repeal in November 2018.
Think of a time that you have felt your humanity invalidated, a time when you were asked to convince someone else of your right to live freely. Imagine not being able to move through the world as the person you were born to be. For most of us, it’s not imaginable. For transgender people, it’s a reality that they face daily. This law is crucial because it’s about ensuring that all people can live their lives freely and safely. It’s about demonstrating empathy and promoting fairness.
At the heart of my faith is a God of compassion and a God who is love. That is the heart of this law, and my faith asks me to bear witness to God’s love by supporting full protection for all persons under the law. I would ask anyone not in favor of transgender protections on religious grounds: how can you reconcile your love for God with a lack of compassion and understanding for an entire group of people? We are all God’s children. We cannot deny any person equal treatment and equal protection in one breath and claim Jesus in the next. Our Christian faith asks us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. I support transgender people not in spite of my faith, but because of it. Upholding the transgender protections law is the right thing to do. If you are also someone who believes in treating all our neighbors the way you would want to be treated, vote yes on question 3 for dignity and respect this Election Day.
Rev. Courtney Jones is the pastor at Hope Central Church in Jamaica Plain.
How To Fight Back and Do Your Civic Duty on Nov. 6
By Will Poff-Webster, Ziba Cranmer, and Annie Rousseau
On the bulletin board by the Stony Brook T Stop, someone two years ago wrote “Trump is a Nazi—Fight Back!” The words are faded now but still visible, and Donald Trump is still president. Although the past two years showed the perseverance of people in Jamaica Plain and across the country standing up to make sure hatred and authoritarianism do not take over our country, our neighbors negatively affected by the Trump administration’s policies remind us that we wake up every day in an America that needs to fight to reclaim progressive values.
One of the most important days in that fight is Nov. 6, the first midterm elections since 2016. Progressives, people of color, young people, and poor people all historically vote less frequently in midterms; the best way to defeat Trump is to make new history by voting in unprecedented numbers. JP already did it once—we turned out more than anyone expected for candidates like Ayanna Pressley and Nika Elugardo in the Democratic primary in September. Now we need your help to show that democracy can stage a comeback by voting and telling everyone you know to vote on Nov. 6.
JP has many contested elections this November. Rachael Rollins, the Democratic candidate for District Attorney, is running for the most consequential position few people have heard of—if she wins in November, she will be able to enact common-sense reforms to the system of mass incarceration. As she gets targeted by national right-wing media, it’s important for JP to give her a mandate to implement effective criminal justice reforms.
At the top of the ticket, Jay Gonzalez deserves JP’s vote for Governor. One need only ride the Orange Line to know that Charlie Baker’s solutions are too small for the big investments we need to make and the progressive revenue we need to raise to afford them. Similarly, our progressive sheroes Elizabeth Warren and Maura Healey show us every day why they should be reelected. Senator Warren’s recent housing bill would help JP and the whole country by increasing funding for affordable housing and asking wealthy areas to end restrictive zoning and reduce the housing supply crisis. She has exciting ideas to tackle political corruption and improve workers’ rights. Attorney General Healey has taken legal action on progressive causes, strengthening gun control and returning hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers. Both are up against Trumpian opponents and deserve big victories to show our confidence in them.
As important as our state’s candidates are, the most important votes cast on Nov. 6 may be elsewhere. From Maine to New Mexico, Republicans who aid President Trump’s racism, sexism and homophobia are being challenged by progressive Democrats who stand up to him. Comparisons between Trump’s scandals and Watergate are common, but the key difference is that President Nixon faced accountability during Watergate because there was a Democratic majority in Congress. Today’s Republican Congress excuses the president rather than investigating him. Taking back Congress is essential to show Republicans, and the world, that Americans will not allow the last two years to become the new normal. JP Progressives has a “Sister Districts” team that calls critical swing districts to turn the tide in the midterms. This phone-banking (and now, text-banking if you don’t like to talk on the phone) happens every Sunday 2-4 p.m. and every other Wednesday 6-8 p.m. in our homes in JP. We even write postcards to voters in swing states—postcards from across the country are credited with inspiring unlikely voters in one of the biggest upsets of 2017, the victory of a civil rights Democrat over a far-right Republican in the Alabama Senate race. If you join Sister Districts, you might be the next JPP volunteer to get an election-day message from a faraway voter who voted because of you.
When you vote in Massachusetts, more than just candidates will be on the ballot. One crucial vote is on Question 3, a referendum on whether to keep anti-discrimination protections for transgender people in state law. Conservative groups are trying to repeal legal equality for transgender residents, and it’s important to vote YES on #3 to keep hate out of the Bay State. JP Progressives endorsed YES on #3 so Jamaica Plain can continue our leadership for equality for all of our LGBTQ+ community.
Two other questions, #1 on nurse staffing ratios and #2 on money in politics, are also on the ballot. JP Progressives is conducting our normal endorsement process for these questions: we gather information, hold discussions with our members, and then send out a poll to the voting members of JPP who make the final decision. To become a voting member, attend three of our events or volunteer with us once and you can vote on our endorsements. The JPP decision on Question 1 and Question 2 will be coming out soon after the votes are tallied, so please follow us at facebook.com/jpprogressives, on twitter @jpprogressives, or get added to our mailing list by emailing [email protected] to hear more endorsement results or join any of our volunteer opportunities. If you have any questions, send us an email and one of our Co-Chairs (Ziba Cranmer, Annie Rousseau, and Will Poff-Webster) will get back to you.
After Trump’s election in 2016, many of us in JP felt shock and despair. While we can’t change the past, what happens on Nov. 6 is truly in all of our hands. If we miss President Obama, we should listen to him now when he says: “There is only one real guardrail when Washington veers off course, and that’s you. You and your vote. And your friends’ and families’ and neighbors’ votes. If you haven’t already voted, make a plan right now. Make sure everybody you know is doing the same. Grab a friend and go knock doors or make phone calls for candidates you believe in. Don’t wake up disappointed on Nov. 7, thinking, ‘I could’ve done more.’ Let’s give this country all we’ve got.”
Will Poff-Webster, Ziba Cranmer and Annie Rousseau are the co-Chairs of Jamaica Plain Progressives, a civic organization seeking to involve our neighbors in the political process. They are writing on behalf of the JP Progressives Steering Committee.
Extraordinary times call for our most extraordinary selves
By State Rep.-elect Nika Elugardo
Fellow residents of Mission Hill, Brookline, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain, thank you for leading the state in a historic turnout for a gubernatorial primary. Your leadership in GOTV and at the ballot box was truly extraordinary! Thank you for choosing me as your Democratic candidate for State Representative. It’s an honor to be entrusted to build on the legacy of our current Representative, Jeffrey Sánchez, who I know will continue to do great things in and for our community.
Since the primary election just weeks ago, I’ve met with more than 200 advocates and residents in all four neighborhoods, and my incredible team continues this outreach as we approach the general election and, hopefully, beyond. It’s an incredible honor and joy to get to know our district champions as I prepare for the prospect of representing you at the MA State House.
I’ve also been traveling the state to help Democrats who have serious challengers in the general. Since I’ll be running unopposed, it’s been my great pleasure to mobilize Team Nika in service to other candidates. As a leader in the community and economic development world for more than 20 years, I understand the critical importance of collaboration. We have to work together to make sure our district values are represented across the Commonwealth. I want to give special shout-outs to the Democratic nominees for Governor and District Attorney, Jay Gonzalez and Rachael Rollins, who are inspiring us all to work as a team on behalf of justice.
We’ve also been canvassing and phone banking to promote awareness of the three statewide ballot initiatives. I stand with the People’s Agenda, voting “yes” on all three. Issue 1 has arguments on both sides, but a “yes” vote protects workers and marginalized groups, while “no” protects privileged members of the medical community. I grew up in a family of tradespeople who struggled with addiction and other health problems compounded by housing instability and chronic unemployment. I’m always going to support union workers in their struggle for rights, as well as support efforts to make health care safer and more accessible. Issue 2 furthers the battle to get corporate money out of politics, and that’s core to my policy agenda. Issue 3, protecting trans rights, will likely do well in district, but we need to show up in record numbers to take a stand and to send a clear message to the state and nation. STOP harassing our trans family!!
Issue three is deeply symbolic for me. It challenges our state to once again lead the nation in demanding true justice for all. It’s symbolic of my own trajectory, not only as a public servant, but also in my personal life. For example, in my place of worship I’ve noticed increased resistance to the clarion call to stand with all marginalized people among us and abroad. My peers and I are combating this resistance as never before in our various local faith communities, just as all people are being called to stand in new ways wherever we may find ourselves. I am proud to stand, because we don’t just stand against hate and fear, however veiled they may be, we stand for love and for hope. We stand for each other.
Our ballot initiatives represent an absolute intolerance for injustice in all its forms. In these times we cannot abide resistance to basic conceptions of justice and fairness. We cannot abide it in our workplaces or our places of faith. We cannot abide it in our hospitals or public spaces. We cannot abide injustice anywhere. These are extraordinary times, and they call us to be our most extraordinary selves.
Fellow residents, for decades our district has led the charge for true justice for all. Our state needs our leadership as never before—not just at the ballot box but all year long. Elect me on November 6th, and I will lead the fight for justice with you and for you on Beacon Hill.
Voting is the beginning, so let’s get out that vote!