Winning statehood for D.C. residents is a necessary step in our nation's long journey toward equality and racial justice, and the only path to equal citizenship for D.C. residents. We are better-positioned for achieving statehood than ever before.
Earlier this month, on the first day of the 117th Congress, Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced H.R. 51 to turn Washington, D.C., into the 51st state, legislation that already has 209 cosponsors. Senator Tom Carper's corresponding legislation in the Senate, S.51, was introduced yesterday, already with a record 39 original cosponsors.
Recent events have made it clearer to many Americans the types of real harms caused to D.C. residents due to D.C.'s lack of statehood. The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 highlighted that D.C., unlike every other state, does not have the authority to deploy its own National Guard troops to protect its own residents without approval from the Department of Defense. That approval came after a multi-hour delay by the Trump Administration. This delay was striking given the number of National Guard troops and D.C. Police that showed up in force last summer during Black Lives Matter protests. And did you know that because D.C. is not a state, the president has the authority to take over the D.C. Police force?
A January 2021 Fortune Magazine / Survey Monkey poll showed that now half of Americans support D.C. statehood. This represents a seismic increase from national polling in previous years, which showed support often closer to 30 percent. Importantly, recent polling commissioned by DCVote shows that support for statehood increases amongst all polled demographics when people are presented with both the strongest pro and con statehood arguments. The more people learn about this issue, the more they support D.C. statehood.
As we build out this campaign for D.C. statehood, alongside the organizations and individuals who have been working toward righting this past wrong for generations, we'll always center D.C. stories and amplify D.C. voices. We encourage you to contact us <[link removed]> directly with your questions about D.C. statehood, and to sign up for our storytelling workshops <[link removed]> to tell us, in your own words, what statehood means to you.
The hard truth, though, is that we won't be able to achieve statehood on our own. We'll need widespread support far beyond District borders in order to get statehood legislation passed in Congress and signed into law. This is an ACLU-DC campaign like no other, and we are actively working with ACLU affiliates in states across the country to increase awareness and support nationwide.
We know residents still have a lot of questions about statehood, and we will work to answer as many as we can. Below are a few resources you may find helpful:
* Why does D.C. statehood matter? Read my blog post, "Washington, D.C. Residents Deserve the Full Benefits of Citizenship." <[link removed]>
* How is the history of denying statehood to D.C. steeped in racism? Read Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux's blog post, "D.C. Statehood is a Racial Justice Issue." <[link removed]>
* Is making D.C. a state constitutional? Yes. And you can review the ACLU's complete response in our 2019 congressional written testimony. <[link removed]>
D.C. is a place with rich history and culture, vibrant communities, and wonderful people. We are teachers, grocery store clerks, janitorial staff, nurses, restaurant staff, volunteers, neighbors, and yes, many of us are federal government employees. Residents of D.C. deserve the same full congressional representation and full civil rights as Americans in every other U.S. state.
Whether this campaign takes weeks, months, or years, it will remain a top priority for the ACLU-DC to work to correct this historic wrong and bring full rights to the residents of D.C.
We look forward to working with you on this fundamental civil liberties issue.
Pronouns: She, her, hers
Executive Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia