Let’s get this out of the way first: I want voting rights. I’m angry over my disenfranchisement, and I seethe at paying taxes without a vote in the matter. The UN considers me a human rights violation, and I’m inclined to agree.
So if you haven’t been paying attention to our plight - and honestly, if you don’t live here why would you really? - here’s a quick round-up: There has been some legislation winding its way through Congress called the DC Voting Rights Act, which aims to give us - me - a seat in the House of Representatives; and to prevent a perceived imbalance in this delicate Congress, to provide an additional seat to Utah as well.
There is some concern as to whether or not the legislation is even constitutional, since it grants representation to the States, which DC technically is not. Even our (relatively recent) vote for President is a special-case! The lack of Statehood is a touchy issue with many residents; but while it may seem tangential, indulge me and remember that most DC residents think we should be a state.
A few days ago, while the bill was being debated on the floor, Mr. Lamar S. Smith, a Republican from Texas, caused it to be abruptly pulled after suggestion amending the bill to modify the District’s extremely restrictive gun laws, in addition to granting a vote. It might seem odd if you haven’t been following along, but as a Federal district, our laws and self-governance are at the whim of Congress. So if they pass legislation that repeals our gun laws, then our gun laws are repealed. Of course, this got everyone up in arms - so to speak - and even made for an amusing segment on the Colbert Report the other night.
Coincidentally, those very same laws were recently struck down as unconstitutional by a Federal appeals court.
Here’s the other shoe: One of the arguments made by lawyers for the city in favor of the laws is that the Second Amendment applies to militias for states, and since the District of Columbia is not a state, the Second Amendment doesn’t apply. So we should be a state, with voting representation, and all the rights that entails - except for when we’d rather not?
Sorry, but the Asshole from Texas is right, and his crude political ploy makes an eloquent point for those who care to listen: We can’t have our cake and eat it, too. If we want voting rights, we have to do it the right way. The sound way. The way that isn’t going to get overturned in court at first chance. No shortcuts, no baby steps, no half-assed bills that the President is going to veto anyway. We have to achieve either actual statehood or another special-case amendment to the Constitution. There are no other ways.