Thursday, July 11, 2013

Even If You're Not A Neil Young Fan, We Still Want You To Get To Know Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach


A few days ago we asked you to take a look at the Blue America Neil Young contest. Shorter version here. But Daylin Leach is a lot more than a cute contest. And although Neil Young's music was important to young Daylin when he was growing up, it isn't the only thing that helped form Daylin Leach.

He was raised in Northeast Philadelphia by a single mother. When Daylin's grandmother got terminally sick, his mother had to quit work to devote her full attention to taking care of her. This meant that she could no longer take care of Daylin and he was sent to live in a series of foster homes.
"During this time, I learned to live virtually on my own. Many of the foster parents I lived with saw their responsibility as only to put a roof over my head and provide a bed to sleep. I would be expected to leave these houses early in the morning and not return until late at night, and the foster parents would show no interest or concern in how I spent my time when I wasn't at their house.

"It was very isolating. It seemed as though the whole world was against me.

"To carry me through, I found solace watching the Civil Rights movement that was unfolding on TV screens everywhere. As a child, my super heroes were the attorneys fighting in the Supreme Court for student busing, the protesters on college campuses and the martyrs in places like Southern University, and the members of the senate who rejected Harrold Carswell-- the nominee to the Supreme Court who supported segregation and opposed women's rights.

"I saw my own struggles mirrored in the Civil Rights movement. These were groups of people and individuals who were able to challenge and change an unfair system. They saw what was wrong, and worked tirelessly to change it. And they were successful. If they could persevere, then I could too.

"Eventually, after my grandmother passed away, my mother was able to get back on her feet and take me back in. I was grateful to be in a loving home again, but returned with a fight in my heart. From then on, my struggle was the struggle of injustice everywhere -- and this has followed my through my entire life as an attorney, as a legislator, and-- if I am successful-- as a Member of the U.S. Congress."
When Digby, John and I decided that Blue America would endorse Daylin, we weren't aware of that part of his biography. We knew about his current family and, most important for our vetting procedure, we knew about his legislative accomplishments in the Pennsylvania state Senate. Since he was first elected to the legislature in 2002, he's made it his mission to be the voice for those who do not have a voice in the halls of power-- to seek out the fight that is not being fought, the change what is not being implemented, or the injustice that is allowed to exist because of complacency or apathy or, at times, malice. He tells us he's proud of all that he's been able to accomplish but he's won enough victories to realize that the fight is far from over, which is why he's running for Congress... and why we were interested in endorsing him and helping him win in a tough primary that features Establishment types running to offer... more of the same putrid Beltway dysfunction.

When we asked Daylin what legislative accomplishments were the most important to him, the first thing he brought up was Women's Right. "I have fought for women's rights and access to reproductive health," he told us, "writing the bill to provide emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms for rape victims; crafting the legislation to require employers to offer paid leave for parents of new borns; and passed, with bi-partisan support, the law that ended the practice of shackling prisoners during childbirth. I have also led the fight to crack down on human trafficking in Pennsylvania-- a barbaric practice akin to modern day slavery-- that mainly effects women and young girls."

Next he brought up his work in the legislature on the environment. He considers himself an environmentalist in everything he does. He told us, "I have been a leader in protecting the environment as the Marcellus fracking companies have come into our state, earning a 100% from environmental groups like Conservation Voters of PA and the Sierra Club on their "Marcellus Shale Score Card." But beyond that, I helped pass a $625 million initiative to clean up streams, preserve open space, and improve our natural infrastructure, wrote the law to bring hybrid vehicles into the state's fleet, and have been working to enact the Renewable Portfolio Standards, which incentivizes PA energy companies to produce more of their energy through renewable technology."

And then came Civil Rights and voting right. Again, Daylin's been one of the state's champions. And he's outspoken and persuasive: "I believe that achieving full equality for gay Americans is the civil-rights battle of our time. In 2009, I introduced the first marriage equality in Pennsylvania, and I've worked to change the law so that members of the LGBT community can no longer be discriminated against for who they are... In Pennsylvania, there was a consolidated effort to limit who could vote and how their vote counts-- from laws to require ID at the polls, to schemes change the way Pennsylvania allocates its Electoral College votes, to the partisan power grab that is gerrymandering in Pennsylvania. Along the way, I was the loudest and fiercest voice in opposition to all of these-- beating back the voter ID and Electoral College efforts and introducing a first of its kind bill to eliminate gerrymandering in Pennsylvania."

This is why we endorsed him and this is why we're asking you to chip him for his campaign. You can do it here and be eligible to win the Neil Young platinum award or you can do it here on the regular vanilla Blue America page.

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