We don’t normally post every e-mail that comes around from DFA. But we’re making an exception during the month of April because as you know, it is the 10-year anniversary of Democracy for America, the grassroots organization that grew out of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and also the tenth anniversary of Blog for Iowa, one of the original blogs of the state DFA chapters.
One of the best things that DFA does is something called the “Dean Dozen.” These are progressive candidates for office that the organization has selected to throw its weight behind. President Obama was one of the original “Dean Dozen” candidates. Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin and Kirsten Gillibrand are also on the list.
Here is Kirsten Gillibrand’s inspirational story.
When I heard Democracy for America was turning 10 years old, I couldn’t wait to reach out to celebrate with all of you. After all, DFA’s story is, in so many ways, my story too.
When I first ran for Congress in 2006, I was trying to do the impossible: to unseat a four-term Republican incumbent in a district that Republicans had owned for all but 4 years since 1913. A local group of amazing Dean-inspired activists won me DFA’s endorsement that year, and their hard work on the ground helped send me to the House of Representatives, which set me up to join the Senate in 2009.
Since then, DFA has been a reliable partner of mine on so many important issues. During the battle for health care reform in 2010, when I urged Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a public option a reality, DFA members secured support for the move from 119 House members. And when the Senate looked poised to unfairly jack up student loan rates, Sen. Tammy Baldwin and I worked with DFA to collect 35,423 signatures in support of keeping student loan interest rates low — a move that helped pressure Congress into keeping the rates from doubling.
I love working with DFA because through the years, they’ve proven that their members can move Congress on issues that matter. On this milestone anniversary, let’s show DFA how much their passionate advocacy has meant to us: Please give DFA a $10 birthday gift today — one dollar for every year they’ve fought for progressive change.
Of all of the fights DFA and I have shared, none demonstrates our ability to change the world together in real, tangible ways better than the quest for gay rights. The year I took office, the backlash against the marriage equality movement was in full swing. States across the country were rushing to pass same-sex marriage bans — and 18 of them had succeeded. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was upheld in federal courts 5 times, guaranteeing continued discrimination against LGBT Americans by our armed forces.
Fast forward to 2009. While the battles over marriage in the states raged on, I had become a leading advocate for repealing DADT in Congress — and DFA was right there with me. While I worked to find the votes for repeal in the Senate, Gov. Howard Dean and DFA members petitioned President Obama to act to end the unfair policy. And when the Administration stepped in to clear the way for a repeal vote in 2010, DFA went to work building pressure on vulnerable members of Congress and helping us secure a victory.
Next up, the Defense of Marriage Act. While the tide against marriage was starting to turn in the states, DOMA was still preventing completely legal same-sex marriages from being recognized by the federal government. I turned to DFA, and together we ran a campaign to increase awareness of the effects of DOMA and to build support for a complete repeal. More than 40,000 DFA members signed our petition. It was an amazing demonstration of the momentum marriage equality was gaining nationally — momentum that would soon lead to DOMA being overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
Today, it is a different world for LGBT Americans than it was when I was elected. The military now welcomes soldiers regardless of their sexual orientation. Seventeen states and counting have legalized same-sex marriage. More Americans now support gay marriage than oppose it — and the momentum for equality is showing no signs of slowing down.
This is what true progressive change looks like. And every step of the way, DFA has been instrumental in making that change happen. Howard Dean is right: together, we really are unstoppable.
Join me in thanking DFA for 10 years of making a difference by donating $10 — one dollar for each game-changing year — to support DFA’s important work in the decade to come.
Thank you for being a part of this incredible progressive team,
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand