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UPDATED: League of Women Voters won't back D.C. voting rights bill

The League of Women Voters, which has championed D.C. voting rights for the past five decades, announced today that it will not support the pending bill to give the District a vote in Congress because it would also weaken the city's gun laws.

In a sign that the opposition to the bill supported by Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is hardening, both the national and local chapters of the league announced that they will not support the legislation. Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and Billie Day, president of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia, said in a joint statement that they reached their conclusion "reluctantly and sadly, but firmly."

"As an organization that has supported voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia for more than 50 years, the League of Women Voters believes that the destruction of D.C.'s gun safety laws is too high a price to pay for the passage of the D.C. Voting Rights Act," the statement said. "Asking citizens to sacrifice their safety in order to have representation in Congress is unacceptable."

As early as Wednesday or Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on a measure that would give the District a voting member of Congress. But the bill, which is being crafted, will also probably include a provision that prevents the city from establishing its own gun laws.

Earlier today, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) also reaffirmed his opposition to the voting rights bill if the gun amendment is attached. D.C. for Democracy, which bills itself as the largest progressive organization in the city, also announced today that it is strongly opposed to the bill pending before Congress.

Update, 6:20 p.m.: Llir Zherka, executive director of DC Vote, counters a diverse coalition that remains supportive of the voting rights bill, even if it includes the gun amendment.

Supporters include the D.C. NAACP, the D.C. Republican Committee, Greater Washington Urban League, Human Rights Campaign, the People for the American Way and the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO.

-- Tim Craig

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By Washington Post Editors  |  April 19, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  City Life , Eleanor Holmes Norton , Tim Craig , Voting Rights  | Tags: District of Columbia voting rights, Eleanor Holmes Norton, League of Women Voters, United States House of Representatives, Vincent C. Gray  
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Next: Brown, Alexander back off voting bill support over gun control issue


"Asking citizens to sacrifice their safety in order to have representation in Congress is unacceptable."

This is a refreshing bit of honesty from the left about how they view rights. They clearly prefer security over liberty.

Might as well allow warrant-less searches in the Trinidad neighborhood (this actually happened before the ACLU stepped in), too, since safety is more important than that right as well. The right to bear arms? Safety is more important. Now, legislative representation, arguably the most fundamental right, is deemed less a priority than safety.

I hope the bill passes. We will see the murder rate in DC fall further.

Posted by: jboogie1 | April 19, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Save the dramatic rhetoric jboogie1. It is the Republican Party that has helped to deny DC residents the right to vote for decades and it was the Republican Party that passed the original PATRIOT Act that helped to ease many of the acts that you are riling against.

Posted by: FairfaxIsBlue | April 19, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

About Congress, I feel like Groucho Marx said, "I wouldn't want to belong to a club that would want me as a member."
That's sort of what this feels like to me

Posted by: blankspace | April 19, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Our children are in trouble and when they see adults zealously waving fire arms in public, we are sending the message that arguments, issues and problems are resolved with violence. Our children are being taught to fix problems with guns. Keep our children safe. We are a civilized society that's becoming more radical everyday, thanks to our tea party brethren and radical right wingers who think guns are the greatest thing since sliced bread. How sad that they would rather tote guns than help our children respect life.

Posted by: cricket35 | April 19, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

According to the police union, D.C. has no record of a crime being committed in D.C. with a licensed hand gun in 30 years. Gun crimes are committed by people who would not get licensed under new law anyway. There are no tea party people in D.C. which is 91% democrats and yet it has high unemployment, an AIDS rate that rivals Africa, and rampant crime committed overwhelmingly by African-Americans. The inconvenient truth for liberal twits is that with one party rule you can only blame the one party who is ruling.

Posted by: MCDC1 | April 19, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Whatever your political leanings, it's unacceptable for DC to not have representation. Taxation without representation.

Posted by: helloaloah | April 19, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately for Republicans reading this blog, they didn't read far enough down the article to find that support for this bill comes from the DC NAACP and Republicans, it is not a partisan matter.

I, a registered Independent, support the bill and the rights to have guns. Yet, I think it highly inappropriate for congressmen/women, who are not representatives of the citizens of the District, to dictate local laws where it pertains to gun regulations. It is an encroachment onto home rule.

What is too liberal in this town, is its laws on how it treats youth who commit violent crimes. Considering a murdering youth generally only serves 18 months after committing a homicide, I think that citizens owe it to themselves to pick up a hefty revolver and ammo so that they can do what the D.C. council won't in the event they are accosted by one of these derelicts of society. Bring justice to the streets.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | April 20, 2010 6:16 AM | Report abuse

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