Michelle Gillett: A reason to leave garden



It is summertime, the living is easy, and the last thing we want to think about is politics. Even the politicians don't want to be thinking about politics. But today is a special election day and it is important to think about who will best represent us as United States senator from Massachusetts. So even if it seems unseasonal to get out of the garden, the hammock, the pool, and go to the polls to vote on a day in June, it is important to do it.

This morning, I will be stepping out of the garden where I conduct my daily battle with jewelweed and Bishop's weed, and going to town hall to vote for Ed Markey who has been a U.S. representative since 1976. He is running against Gabriel Gomez for the Senate seat John Kerry left when he became secretary of state.

As much as we'd like to, we can't sit back and sip our ice tea and think our vote doesn't matter because Markey will win. That kind of complacency never works -- in a garden or in politics. Voter turn-out always matters, and it particularly matters in this election. We have always had strong leaders in Congress and we need to continue to cultivate that kind of representation. We need a senator who will support the work that Elizabeth Warren and President Obama are doing.

There are a number of reasons why I am voting for Markey. He supports common sense gun safety reforms such as closing the gun show loophole, universal background checks of gun purchasers, and restricting the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. He was one of the first supporters of marriage equality. Although he voted to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq in 2002, he quickly realized he made a mistake. In an interview last year, Markey said, "Ten years ago, the Bush administration perpetrated a fraud on Congress and the American people and launched an invasion into Iraq even though the administration knew that there were no nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. As a result, we fought a conflict that cost thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and untold damage."

Markey's views on tax fairness, on health insurance are sound and sensible. He has voted to protect Social Security and Medicare, and he co-wrote the American Clean Energy and Security Act which would help create millions of clean energy jobs. One of the most important reasons I am going to the polls and voting for Markey is that he supports women's rights and is not afraid to say so. This is of utmost importance in a time when conservatives are still pushing their legislators to eliminate women's rights and to widen the gender gap even more.

Markey has received endorsements from every major women's organization. Terry O'Neill, chair of NOW's Political Action Committee said, "Ed Markey will continue to work to ensure that women have access to the opportunities to succeed, and we look forward to working with him when he is sworn in as our U.S. senator."

Mass. NOW PAC Chair Christina M. Knowles said, "Markey is the only feminist candidate in the U.S. Senate race, and the clear choice for anyone who values advancing the status of women and girls. Markey has an outstanding record of championing reproductive health, health care equality, LGBTQ rights, pay equity, and countless other issues critical to achieving full equality for women and other marginalized populations. We need Ed Markey in the U.S. Senate."

Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal praised Markey's leadership on issues such as protecting women's reproductive rights and ending violence against women.

I cannot imagine not voting for a candidate who isn't intimidated or influenced by special interest groups, who will provide the kind of strong leadership we are accustomed to, who will make sure nobody takes away my rights. We all need to come out of the garden and vote for Ed Markey today. If we don't, we could end up deep in the weeds.

Michelle Gillett is a regular Eagle contributor.


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