Fall 2008 Edition
Published December 12, 2008
2008 League of Women Voters of Alabama

President's Paragraphs

The birth of a healthy baby girl.  In some cultures, that is considered a tragedy.  In others, it is just not as important or joyful as the birth of a baby boy.  One weekend this past October, I found myself more determined than ever to fight for the democratic rights of all human beings and to be extra vigilant to threats to the rights of those, like baby girls, who continue to face prejudice and discrimination.  That Saturday, in Montgomery, I experienced the great joy that should come with the birth of a baby girl (my granddaughter).  The next day, as I watched Iron Jawed Angels with the Montgomery League, I was reminded of the great difficulties that have often faced baby girls as they grow into women and are treated as less than equal.  

Our League of Women Voters is not just for women.  We have male and female members and we work to preserve and protect the right to vote and the fruits of freedom and democracy for all.  Nevertheless, the “women voters” in our name stands for something important.  It is a reminder that for some, like women, voting rights were not and are not automatic, even in a supposed democracy.  They had to be fought for and were won and are protected today with sacrifice.  It also stands for the responsibility that comes with full citizenship.  Once our founding mothers won the right to vote, they had to exercise that right, to become “voters,” and they continued to work to protect voting rights and to improve our democracy at all levels of government.

You should all be proud of the work Leagues all over the State did during this past election to educate the public, register voters, help at Boards of Registrars, work the polls, and so much more, to make the process go smoother and make democracy stronger with new and better informed voters.  Our Judicial Voter Guide was well received and the State League had letters to the editor encouraging informed voting published in three major metropolitan papers. Regardless of who you supported in the Presidential race, inauguration day should be celebrated by all of us because it stands for the peaceful and civil change of power in response to a free and democratic vote of the people.  I have never been prouder of being a citizen of the United States than when listening to John McCain’s incredibly gracious concession speech and Barack Obama’s equally gracious victory speech. 

The current economic situation will make 2009 challenging in many ways, including for our state and local governments, but there is much we can and should accomplish in the new year.  We should reach out to all the new voters and to those newly concerned about how government is affecting their daily lives to ask them to join us in striving to make government better.  We need to follow legislative developments on issues important to us and act when we can to influence legislation.  Our website will alert you to the progress of relevant bills.  We also will post legislative priorities for the League for the 2009 legislative session.

Please note the article in this Voter about ACCR’s  mock constitutional convention and consider whether you can help in that effort.  If you are relatively new to League, you should know that the League has been actively working for a new Alabama constitution since well before ACCR was formed.  Excellent League materials detailing the reasons for the League’s position and its history on this issue are on our website.  Read them and then tell others why this issue is so important.

Congratulations to Joyce Lanning for being chosen to join the national League’s task force on global climate change.  Joyce is a member of the Birmingham League and recently accepted the State Board’s appointment to the off board position of Chair for Natural Resources.   We plan to be more active in addressing environmental issues in the next year, especially those related to coastal zone management and water issues.

There is much to celebrate.  I wish you all a joyful holiday season with family and friends.

Mary Lynn Bates
President, League of Women Voters of Alabama

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