When we originally conceived “Sweet Victories” as a feature on our website, Bush had just been re-elected, and the progressive community was deeply deflated. The idea was to chronicle progressive triumphs–electoral victories, successful organizing efforts, protests and boycotts, the launching of new ideas, new organizations and initiatives. We hoped these stories would bring attention to what is too often off the mainstream media radar screen, and also maintain a sense of hope and inspiration in a dark time. A year later, much has changed: The attempt to destroy Social Security has been blocked, the movement for withdrawal from Iraq has growing public support and many local, statewide and national victories have been won. Here is a look back at some of the year’s sweetest victories.
, became the first city in the country to approve full public financing of elections.
passed the strongest campaign finance reform bill in the United States, banning contributions from lobbyists and state contractors. In addition, the legislation created a publicly funded election system encompassing statewide races, including House and Senate seats.
Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
became the sixth and final New England state to outlaw discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education.
, rejected Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps’s attempt to overturn an ordinance banning discrimination against gays in municipal hiring. And in the City Council primary, Phelps’s granddaughter and fellow antigay activist, Jael Phelps, lost big to Topeka’s first openly gay council member, Tiffany Muller.
Massachusetts General Hospital
announced the creation of the Disparities Solution Center–the first institution specifically dedicated to bridging the racial gap in healthcare service.
Governor Tom Vilsack restored voting rights to thousands of Iowans, reversing an unjust state law that ordained lifetime disenfranchisement for anyone convicted of a felony. Of those affected by the disenfranchisement law, 25 percent were African-Americans. In March
also overturned its lifetime disenfranchisement law for convicted felons. Currently only four states–Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Virginia–continue to uphold this absurdly punitive law.
became the seventh state to officially condemn the Patriot Act, joining
(not to mention more than 375 local communities).
Environment and Health
‘s Safe Cosmetics bill was signed into law. The first of its kind in America, the law requires manufacturers to disclose to the state Department of Health Services any product ingredients linked to cancer, mutations or birth defects.
Six new Democratic governors–Rod Blagojevich (
), Jim Doyle (
), Christine Gregoire
, Ted Kulongoski
, Janet Napolitano
and Brian Schweitzer (
)–joined an earlier three–Jennifer Granholm (
), Ed Rendell (
) and Bill Richardson (
)–in embracing the Apollo Alliance’s goal of achieving sustainable US energy independence within a decade.