Democrats Abroad Celebrates Enactment of “Respect for Marriage Act”

December 15th, Washington, D.C. — Democrats Abroad Leadership, including Global LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair Bob Vallier, National Committeeperson Martha McDevitt-Pugh, Global Black Caucus Chair Leedonal 'Jazz' Moore, and International Chair Candice Kerestan, celebrate President Joe Biden for signing the landmark marriage equality bill into law, enshrining marriage equality protections for all Americans.

 

McDevitt-Pugh, who serves as Recording Secretary of the DNC’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus, said, “For too many years Americans with same-sex foreign partners were locked out of living in the USA by immigration laws that only recognized heterosexual partnerships. Our legal marriages were unrecognized until the 2013 Supreme Court Windsor decision struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). With President Biden’s signature on the Respect for Marriage Act this week, recognition of our marriages is now enshrined in federal law. One more step on the road to full equality. Thank you, President Biden! #lovewins”

 

Global LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair Bob Vallier said, “In order to get the sixty votes needed, language for “religious exception” had to be included, which opens the door to subsequent judicial challenge. The law is imperfect, but nevertheless, the law means that a marriage - any marriage - performed in a state that respects marriage equality is legal and valid in every other state, no matter how marriage is defined in those other states.  While we still must remain ever vigilant to protect our hard-won rights, this is undeniably a giant and meaningful step forward."

 

McDevitt-Pugh added, “I especially want to highlight the bipartisan approach of Senator Tammy Baldwin’s efforts on this bill. She worked hard to get the support of twelve Republican Senators, which allowed the bill to overcome the filibuster. Senator Baldwin built a large coalition in support of the Respect for Marriage Act - a coalition that reflects the views  of a majority of the American people.”

 

Global Black Caucus Chair Leedonal "Jazz" Moore highlighted the importance of the legislation in codifying Loving v. Virginia in their statement on the enactment of the act, saying "While much of the attention has been focused on protections for same-sex marriages, interracial couples are glad Congress also included protections for their marriages, even though their right to marry was well-established decades ago."

 

“Over 70% of Americans support same sex-marriage, and this legislation is game changing for equal protection under the law for all Americans. I want to thank President Biden, Senator Baldwin, and everyone who voted for this bill. I also want to thank the activists who have continued to fight the good fight and ensure that LGBTQIA+ couples and interracial couples have access to the same rights as heterosexual couples.” said Chair Kerestan. 


Global Black Caucus Chair Moore's Statement on the Respect for Marriage Act

 

The Respect for Marriage Act ensures that not only same-sex marriages but also interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law.

The Supreme Court overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion reminds all of us, that whatever rights we have in this society are conditional — they can be taken away, and the fact that Congress had to take up this issue in 2022 should be a stark reminder of that fact for us.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the Senate last week, had been picking up steam since June when the Supreme Court overturned the federal right to an abortion. That ruling included a concurring opinion from Justice Clarence Thomas that suggested the high court should review other precedent-setting rulings, including the 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

While much of the attention has been focused on protections for same-sex marriages, interracial couples are glad Congress also included protections for their marriages, even though their right to marry was well-established decades ago.

It’s a little unnerving that these things where we made such obvious progress are now being challenged or that we have to beef up the bulwark to keep them in place.

So many of those things that have just been taken for granted ... are under threat.

But why is Loving v. Virginia so significant? 

One day in the 1970s, Paul Fleisher and his wife were walking through a department store parking lot when they noticed a group of people looking at them. Fleisher, who is white, and his wife, who is Black, were used to “the look.” But this time it was more intense.

“There was this white family who was just staring at us, just staring holes in us,” Fleisher recalled.

That fraught moment occurred even though any legal uncertainty about the validity of interracial marriage had ended a decade earlier—in 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws banning marriages between people of different races.

In more than half-century since interracial marriage has become more common and far more accepted. So Fleisher was surprised that Congress felt the need to include additional protection in the Respect for Marriage Act, which was given final approval in a House vote Thursday. It ensures that not only same-sex marriages but also interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law.

The 74-year-old Fleisher, a retired teacher and children’s book author, attended segregated public schools in the 1950s in the then-Jim Crow South and later saw what he called “token desegregation” in high school when four Black students were in his senior class of about 400 students.

He and his wife, Debra Sims Fleisher, 73, live outside Richmond, about 50 miles from Caroline County, where Mildred Jeter, a Black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were arrested and charged in 1958 with marrying out of state and returning to Virginia, where interracial marriage was illegal. Their challenge to the law led to Loving v. Virginia, the landmark ruling that ended bans against interracial marriages.


Democrats Abroad Deliver: Celebrating Democrats Abroad's Admission into the Young Democrats of America

After nearly a year of negotiations, Democrats Abroad has been formally admitted into the Young Democrats of America (YDA) structure for the first time in both organizations’ histories. Founded in 1932, the Young Democrats of America is the largest partisan, youth-led political organization in the United States, giving a voice to young voters and cultivating the Democratic stars of tomorrow.

At their annual winter meeting held in Buffalo, New York, from December 9-11, the YDA body voted on resolutions, bylaws amendments, officers, and adding a Democrats Abroad chapter, a decision met with overwhelming support. Democrats Abroad was represented by Brent Jamsa of DA Canada at both the YDA Credentials Committee and General Assembly voting sessions. 

When the gavel fell on Sunday afternoon, thousands of U.S. and dual citizens under 36 who live abroad gained representation in YDA through their membership on Democrats Abroad’s Global Youth Caucus (GYC). “Giving under-36 voters a voice and ownership in Democratic politics is mission critical. We’re excited to engage young voters from every corner of the world even more with YDA at our side,” said 29-year-old DA International Chair Candice Kerestan. YDA President Quentin Wathum-Ocama added that “bringing Democrats Abroad into the YDA fold is a gamechanger, especially considering how crucial votes from abroad can be in winning close elections across the country.” 

As we take this collaboration to the next level, Democrats Abroad would like to thank YDA President Quentin Wathum-Ocama, YDA Democratic National Committee Member Dunixi Guereca, and Democrats Abroad GYC Chair José Miguel Madrigal, in particular, for their spirit of cooperation and commitment to empowering young voters. 

Democrats Abroad’s admission to YDA marks the start of a new partnership between stateside and overseas voters under 36, and we’re excited to see it grow in the 2024 cycle and beyond!

U.S. and dual citizens under 36 living abroad can join Democrats Abroad’s Global Youth Caucus at www.democratsabroad.org/yc


December 6 Georgia Runoff Election Information

Attention Georgia Voters Abroad!

DA Data Privacy Policy

There will be a runoff election for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia between Reverend Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R) on December 6, 2022. The winner will serve a six-year term, so the outcome of this race will have a lasting impact on Democrats’ ability to keep fighting for issues that just can’t wait, from a woman’s right to choose to racial justice to environmental protection!

The good news: You can vote from abroad in the December 6 runoff election, as long as you were registered to vote in Georgia before November 7, 2022, and submitted a 2022 overseas ballot request (Federal Postcard Application, "FPCA") before November 28, 2022. But you will need to act quickly!

Your voted runoff ballot must be postmarked by December 6 & received in GA by December 9!

As we just saw in the November 8 midterm elections, every single vote really does count. 

Thank you for voting from abroad in the December 6 runoff election!

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URGENT Ballot Curing Resources for AZ, CA, CO, NV, OR, and WA Voters

We urge all voters who voted in the November 8 midterm elections in AZ, CA, CO, NV, OR, or WA to confirm that your ballot arrived and was counted without issue. Control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will be decided by just a handful of votes in these states. Please act now and double check!

If there are issues preventing your ballot from being counted, these states allow you to "cure" you ballot. This essentially means fixing issues such as mismatched or missing signatures or dates on the ballot materials you returned (note that the issues that can be "cured" do vary by state). Deadlines and processes to remedy issues vary by state. Details are listed below alphabetically by state. 

If there are issues with your ballot, please immediately get in touch with your local election office!

If you have any questions or require help, please write to [email protected].

We have teams standing by to make sure that your vote gets counted!

 

Arizona 

Deadline to fix ballot issue: November 16, 5:00pm US Mountain Time

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://my.arizona.vote/AbsenteeTracker.aspx 

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/az 


California

Deadline to fix ballot issue: December 6, 5:00pm US Pacific Time

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://california.ballottrax.net/voter/ 

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/ca  


Colorado

Deadline to fix ballot issue: November 16

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://colorado.ballottrax.net/voter/

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/co 

New! You can also fix ballot issues by text: Txt2Cure FAQs (will likely only work cell phones that have US number)


Nevada

Deadline to fix ballot issue: November 14, 5:00pm US Pacific Time

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://www.nvsos.gov/votersearch/

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/nv

Some Nevada counties have online signature curing resources, see www.nvsos.gov/sos/elections/voters/cure

 

Oregon

Deadline to fix ballot issue: November 22

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/showVoterSearch.do

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/or


Washington

Deadline to fix ballot issue: November 28

Link to look up ballot status online:* https://voter.votewa.gov/WhereToVote.aspx

Look up contact information for local election office: www.votefromabroad.org/states/wa

 

*If accessing this page outside of the United States, you may need to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). More on using a VPN here: https://www.votefromabroad.org/faqs/TI1 


Statement on November 8 Midterm Elections

November 9, 2022, 10:00am Washington — U.S. and dual citizens watching election returns around the world are celebrating a historic midterm performance for the Democratic Party, the only party fighting for women’s rights, gun safety, racial and environmental justice, and democracy itself.  Americans both at home and abroad have made it clear that they will not sit back while MAGA Republicans sow division and hate at the expense of our fellow citizens and our democracy.

“Overseas voters knew just how much was at stake this Novemberand they also knew that their ballots could make the difference in close elections,” says Candice Kerestan, International Chair of Democrats Abroad who cast her Pennsylvania ballot from Munich, Germany. In 2020, the number of overseas ballots returned was well within the margin of victory in two key states: in Georgia, 11,779 votes decided the outcome with 27,252 Georgians returning their ballots from outside the United States; in Arizona, 10,457 votes decided the outcome with 21,661 Arizonans abroad sending their ballots home.

As ballot counting continues in some states – including in Georgia and Arizona – the votes from abroad will likely play a decisive role. “We knew that many of these races would be tight. That’s why we worked relentlessly all year to get out the overseas vote,” Kerestan continued. In just the last week alone, Democrats Abroad volunteers phonebanked over 45,000 battleground voters around the world. 

In this vein, we’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to our incredible volunteers, as well as the Democratic National Committee, especially Chair Jaime Harrison, for his vision, persistence, and unwavering support to ensure no stone was left unturned this November.


Overseas Voting Resources For Election Day

**Press inquiries should be directed to [email protected]oad.org**

Dear Overseas Voter,

We have compiled a list of overseas voting resources to help you – and any other U.S. or dual citizen you know living abroad to vote in the November 8 midterm elections. There is still time to vote in most states, but the clock is ticking!

Check each state’s registration, ballot request, and ballot return deadlines for overseas voters at https://www.votefromabroad.org/states/.

  • AL, AZ, CO, DC, DE, HI, IN, KS, MA, ME, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, OR, RI, SC, UT, WA, and WV allow ballots to be returned by email and/or online upload.
  • AR, CT, GA, IA, ID, IL, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NH, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, and WY require voted ballots from civilians abroad to be returned by postal mail or express courier (at this point we strongly recommend express courier for all states except OH!).
  • AK, CA, FL, LA, and OK allow voted ballots to be returned by fax. How to email-to-fax here: https://www.votefromabroad.org/faqs/BL7.

IF your state allows voted ballots to be returned by email, fax, or online upload, please use that option! It’s quick, easy, and secure!

Details are listed below for each step of the process of voting from abroad. If you need any help, please look at our FAQs, write to [email protected], or

Join us on Zoom for free, live voter help

Our teams are working ‘round the clock through the close of polls to make sure every eligible voter abroad can and does vote! Please share this with any other U.S. or dual citizen you know who’s currently outside of the United States.

And lastly, don’t forget to remind your friends and family in the United States to vote! Domestic voters can find their polling place at www.iwillvote.com.

Thank YOU!!

Democrats Abroad

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Student Loan Relief Application Form Now Accessible for Americans Abroad!

UPDATE! As of Friday, October 28 at 2:45pm ET, the Department of Education's online application form is now available for Americans abroad, thanks to Democrats Abroad! (Read more about our advocacy on this issue here)

If for any reason you are STILL getting an error message when trying to access the form, please try these troubleshooting steps:

  • Check back later or another day. The website has been overwhelmed with over 22 million people having applied in the first week the application form went live so give it some time then check again later.
  • Click here to follow steps to use a VPN to get around the geo-blocking of the website. If you find that this fix resolves the issue, be sure to then report your application form error message using this quick form: https://demsabroad.typeform.com/to/DGPna1tS 

Here are some additional tips for submitting your online application form as an American abroad:

  • You may see an error message at the top of the application form saying that debit discharge is paused, but the application form is still open. As a result of a court order from a group of Republicans, Federal Student Aid is temporarily blocked from processing debt discharges. Application forms are still open, so you are encouraged to apply. Applications will be processed as soon as possible. The news on this is changing quickly right now, so we recommend you periodically check back for updates.
  1. Filling in the form looks like it requires a U.S. phone number, but it doesn’t. Here’s the advice received from the U.S. Department of Education as of Tuesday, Nov 1 at 6pm ET: If you only have a foreign phone number, you can enter 555-555-5555 in the phone number field in the Debt Relief Application. This will not affect the processing of your form, which will occur through your email address. We understand not everyone will feel comfortable doing this, in which case you can use a family or friend's U.S. phone number or set up a virtual U.S. phone number. Some free and paid options to set up a U.S. phone number outside the U.S. are available by clicking on this link.
Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration, the federal student loan relief is one of the most recent examples of Democrats delivering real, material improvement to the lives of the American people, including Americans abroad. If you've not yet sent your absentee ballot back to the U.S. for the November 8th election, please do so ASAP. Overseas mail delivery is slow, please opt for email ballot if your state allows. For more info on how to return your ballot click here.

Last updated: Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at 11:21pm


We're Hiring!

As we look to learn from 2022 and plan for 2024, we are excited to grow our team with the addition of a Financial Compliance Director and an Executive Director.

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Two Weeks To Go: Return Your Ballot & Help Us Fight For Every Last Overseas Vote

With just two weeks left until the November 8 midterm elections, it’s all hands on deck!

 

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