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Sweet Victories | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Sweet Victories

Since starting Editor's Cut in April 2003, I've often written about how it can be difficult, in these times, to maintain a sense of hope--as corruption, war, lies and injustices large and small loom all around, and outrage about the Right's assault on our democracy threatens to overwhelm us.

Moreover, as the mainstream media continues to tout America's rightward turn, positive developments in the liberal/left/progressive community are too often overlooked--or ignored. But, it's during days like these that we need to remember that millions of us are organizing, agitating, mobilizing--and that there are many hard-fought victories to celebrate.

So, I'm starting Sweet Victories, a new weekly feature in which Editor's Cut will chronicle a triumph--from legislative and electoral victories, to successful organizing efforts, protests and boycotts, to the launching of a promising new organization or initiative. We hope that these stories will serve not only as a source of information, but inspiration. The victories may be small, but they'll always be sweet.

My partner in highlighting good news is former (ace) Nation intern Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist, documentary filmmaker, and blogger (www.boldprint.net) living in Brooklyn. We also want to hear from you. Please let us know if you have a story you think we should cover by emailing to: nationvictories@gmail.com. Below is our first victory.

Topekans Vote Against Hate

The only person asking, "What's the matter with Kansas?" right now is the Rev. Fred Phelps. His decades of anti-gay activism--which include picketing outside hate crime victim Matthew Sheppard's funeral with "God Hates Fags" signs--have apparently had little effect in his own backyard.

In Tuesday's elections, the city of Topeka officially refused to associate itself with Phelps' politics of hate--twice.

First, Topekans voted to reject Phelps' bid to overturn the city's ordinance banning discrimination of gays in municipal hiring. Phelps' repeal bid would have prevented Topeka from reinstating the anti-discrimination law for ten years, making Topeka the only city in the United States to specifically deny a single group protections against bias. Instead, Topekans voted it down 14,285 to 12,795.

And in the city council primary, Phelps' 20-year-old granddaughter and fellow anti-gay activist, Jael Phelps, lost big to Topeka's first and only openly gay council member, Tiffany Muller. Muller, who initiated the ordinance last November, received 1,329 votes to Phelps' 202.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force provided a boost in Tuesday's election, offering financial support for campaign staff and organizing volunteer phone banks across the country to call undecided voters. "Today, the people of Topeka not only rejected discrimination, they chose decency over immorality, truth over despicable lies," said Matt Foreman, Executive Director of the NGLTF.

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