#AdvocacyMatters: A Different Independence Day

July 2, 2021 / #AdvocacyMatters

As we quickly approach the day our nation gained its independence from British rule, this day we recognize with fireworks and barbeque was only the start of a long and challenging fight for freedom. July 4th, 1776 afforded white American men their independence from England. In the 245 years since, our nation has seen rallies, sit-ins, marches, and wars centered on one cause: True independence and freedom for all. Though we’ve seen incremental improvements along the way – such as this year’s official recognition of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday – we’ve still failed to fully realize the virtues so hollowly spelled out in the pledge we learn to recite in our youth. It is clear that there is not yet true liberty and justice for all.

While the history we learn typically focuses on victories and steps forward, the resolve and determination to achieve them is rooted in the setbacks and defeats. For weeks, we’ve engaged with and asked our supporters and allies to help stop a harmful and retaliatory amendment against DRO added to the state’s budget bill. Despite calls and emails from across the state and across the country, the amendment was ultimately included in the final version of the bill. We asked you to join us in calling on Governor DeWine to veto the amendment and you responded, sending hundreds of emails with this plea.

At a Thursday press conference to discuss his signing of the budget, the governor remarked that “budgets always reflect priorities.” Unfortunately, he is right. The harmful, anti-DRO amendment was signed into law, reflecting an indifference to the harm this amendment will bring to Ohioans with disabilities by interfering with DRO’s independence and ability to effectively advocate.

And yet, we’re still here. Our Intake Specialists are still taking calls to offer help and direction. Our Abuse and Neglect team is still performing investigations and monitoring activities to ensure proper care and procedures are being followed for the safety of all. Our Special Education team remains engaged with families and advocates across the state, planning training events and creating new resources to help navigate these complicated issues.

In short, the fight isn’t over. While we plot out our next steps to push back against this harmful, retaliatory legislation, our work will continue. Galvanized by how disposable our work appears to be to Ohio’s elected leaders, we are fueled to move forward by those for whom we advocate. On the long march towards true freedom, liberty, and equal rights, it’s the setbacks that bring the motivation for victory. Because we understand how much #AdvocacyMatters, our fight will continue.

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