Nothing Convinces Like Stories from Home

The turnaround by Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania is a message to us all.  Sen. Casey supported the Defense of Marriage Act but recently changed his mind.  Why?  Because stories from constituents of the social and economic injustices of denying same-sex couples marriage rights convinced him.  Real people from his state who were discriminated against.  Taxpayers.  Voters.

If you haven’t read our “Enough!” statement on cuts to human services, please do. (Enough as in “Enough already!  Human services have already given more than their share!”)  Aside from entitlements, which many of us care about deeply, human services are a part of Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) spending.  NDD spending is just 17 percent of the federal budget and even small cuts there cause major damage.  Many of these programs have been cut repeatedly and with Sequestration and all the cuts that will follow many fewer Americans will have the opportunity to make it up the economic ladder, to be contributing citizens. 

The nonprofit human services community—providers, advocates, clients, boards, volunteers, and others—need to send the Enough! message to their elected leaders and need to do it now and repeatedly.  And they—we—need to include local stories of real people.  Voters.  Taxpayers. 

People are watching for the effects of sequestration, which appear not to be all that dramatically apparent.  That’s because the cuts have been happening all along and continue in dribs and drabs.  The pain to people and communities is incremental.  Think of the frog in the pot of cold water, then warm water and eventually frog soup. 

The word is mobilize.  Not marches but letters, phone calls, emails, faxes.  There are lots of decent Senators and Congress Members out there.  They need to know how cuts to NDD are hurting real people in their communities. 

— Irv Katz, CEO, National Human Services Assembly