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Petitioning Washington State Senate, Washington State House, Jay Inslee

Female Genital Mutilation is an American issue. Let's push Washington State to ban FGM!

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice decided to drop the appeal on a Detroit ruling that overturned the federal ban on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).  For girls at risk of FGM, this federal ruling has put them in great jeopardy. Supporters of FGM are now empowered to think that if the federal law is not upheld, then the practice must not be wrong.  And in states without anti-FGM legislation, the absence of a federal ban leaves women and girls at even greater risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 513,000 women and girls have undergone or are at risk of FGM in the United States.  For me, these cases aren’t just data points.  My sister is a survivor of FGM.  When I was eleven and she was seven, we traveled on our own to visit our aunt in India over the summer.  What I thought was a routine summer vacation turned out to be a horror story for my sister. Our aunt cut my little sister in her basement clinic.  I later learned that my aunt carried this out without our parents’ consent and to this day, believes she did the right thing. I learned about my sister’s experience when she shared her story in the Guardian a few years ago.  Before then, I didn’t know much about FGM.  I had no idea it was happening in this country let alone in my community.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ definition, FGM is a human rights abuse, form of gender-based violence and child abuse.  And in my sister’s words: FGM destroyed her childhood, shattered her self-confidence, and is something she will never fully recover from. By breaking her silence and courageously sharing her story, my sister has become part of a movement to end FGM not just in the US, but all around the world.  As her brother, I stand alongside her and the many survivors on the frontlines of this movement. They should not be shouldering this burden on their own. We need more allies, including men and boys, to speak up. Right now, we have the power to send a powerful message that FGM has no place in this country.  I am writing to urge Washington state legislators to pass a law banning FGM in the state of Washington, as well as provide the resources needed to support FGM survivors and educate communities (healthcare providers, religious leaders, school teachers, and policymakers) around the devastating consequences of FGM.  We need a holistic approach where prosecution is not the end goal, but a pathway to prevention. I want no girl in the United States to endure what my sister went through. Washington is at risk of becoming an FGM destination state where girls are transported from states that have succeeded in criminalizing FGM. We need to close the federal loophole on FGM in the United States by lobbying for anti-FGM legislation at the state level:  starting with my home state of Washington.  Please join me in the fight to pass a law in Washington that criminalizes FGM.

Abid Saifee
87,471 supporters
Petitioning Donald Trump, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, Department of Veterans Affairs, Alabama State Senate, Alabama State House, Alabama Governor, Florida State Senate, Florida State House, Flo...

Congress: Let all children of U.S. military service members unite with their families!

I’m Jenifer Bass, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served for 10 years, one-third in the Asia-Pacific region. It was due to my travel between ports in countries like Japan and Thailand that I first encountered amerasian children, and descendants, of U.S. service members and civilian contractors previously stationed overseas. Filipino Amerasians are abandoned and neglected biracial children of Filipino mothers and American fathers (mostly members of the US armed forces). In the Philippines alone, more than 52,000-plus children were born and left behind after the U.S. Navy withdrew the last of its military personnel in 1992. Right now, the U.S. government won’t legally recognize them as U.S. citizens, despite having been born to an American parent. The Philippine Embassy won't help them either. As a former US colony between 1898 and 1946, the Philippines was home to millions of US soldiers and their dependents, even after its independence. Until 1992, the country hosted two of the largest US military facilities outside the US – Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base, which played major roles during the Vietnam and first Gulf wars. In 1982 US Public Law 97-359, or the Amerasian Act of 1982, allowed children from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea, or Thailand to move to the US and eventually become American citizens, but those who were from the Philippines were excluded from the law, an exclusion which was upheld by the US Senate on the basis that many Filipino Amerasians were “conceived from illicit affairs and prostitution”, and were born during peacetime. Today, there are estimated to be more than 250,000-plus children. Many amerasians are caught in a no-man’s land of discrimination and poverty -- most left behind by U.S. service members who are unaware that they’ve fathered children overseas. My friend John Haines is one of these sailors. In 2011, John discovered he was the father of a half-Filipino daughter, Jannette. He attempted to unite with her through the American Homecoming Act -- but was frustrated to learn that the Act did not apply to Filipino children of U.S. service members. Today, all John wants is to be united with his daughter and grandchildren. He, like so many other veterans are living with a “hole in their hearts” as they search for ways to unite with their children. There is hope. The Uniting Families Act of 2018, HR 1520, creates a specialized visa allowing military veterans and eligible civilian contractors to sponsor their children and grandchildren for U.S. citizenship. Currently, blood relationship must be proven by DNA test and the total number of visas granted will be capped at 5,000 each year. The issue takes on more urgency as so many of our veterans from our wars in Southeast Asia are getting older and dying each day -- without the chance to connect, or in some cases, reconnect with their own children. John’s daughter Jannette has already undertaken the DNA testing process, conclusively proving her relationship to her American father. All she’s waiting for is the opportunity to permanently unite with her father. There is a PBS documentary, "Left by the Ship" (2010), documenting a day in the life and the personal struggles as a Filipino amerasian on the never ending search for identity and their struggles to connect to their American military families. Please sign this petition to tell Congress that these families cannot wait another day. Pass the Uniting Families Act of 2017, HR 1520, now!

Jenifer Bass
33,512 supporters
Petitioning Donald J. Trump

RESTRICT FELONS FROM CHILDCARE EMPLOYMENT OR GIVE PARENTS FULL BACKGROUND CHECK RESULTS!

This paragraph was added on September 2nd, 2016 in order to clarify the intent of this petition.  Everything below this paragraph remains unchanged:  Background check results on any childcare provider's criminal record OR parents considering childcare should receive COMPLETE background check results of any childcare workers, just like any other employer can, so every parent is able to make a fully informed decision regarding the life of their child(ren),  Additionally, NO CHILDCARE PROVIDERS should be allowed to use any name or nicknames aside from their legal name without full disclosure to the parents of the person's full legal name and a prominently placed notification if a person IS using a nickname or alias.   That information should also be included in any "welcome folders given to parents so that there are two ways a parent would be able to easily access. Here's why:  My beautiful two and a half year old little boy, David Roberts, died at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington on January 20, 2013.  David held on to life for two days after suffering from catastrophic abusive head trauma that was inflicted while he was in the care of his two state and military licensed childcare providers (a husband and wife).  We had unknowingly placed David in the hands of a person who had been convicted of felony residential burglary and other crimes, and who also had a DOCUMENTED anger management and alcohol problem, and David DIED from the injuries he suffered at that childcare during the time that the person in question was working.  The state and military told me and my husband that the providers had cleared the background checks, when in fact the state and military KNEW that particular provider had a criminal record which included felony residential burglary, at least one malicious mischief charge, and a DOCUMENTED anger management and alcohol problem...and still chose to license him even though he wouldn't even be allowed to chaperone at any of the schools his children attend.  The state and military also knew and allowed this same person to not disclose his legal name.  DESPITE KNOWING THESE FACTS, THE STATE AND MILITARY willingly withheld that information, with fatal consequences: my son lost his life.  My husband and and I had NO IDEA that he had a felony criminal record and was not using his legal name and would NEVER have put David in their care if we knew that information.  The state MUST CHANGE the "Director's List" (WAC 170.06.0120) and PREVENT FELONS from having access to the child(ren) of other people and parents considering childcare should receive ALL background check results of any childcare workers just like any employer can.  The state also must prevent ANYONE from using any name or nicknames aside from their legal name while working in childcare, and a law or laws should be enacted and be named "David's Law",  On January 18, 2013 my two and a half year old, autistic, son David, became a victim of catastrophic abusive head trauma at the hands of his daycare providers.  He died two days later from the injuries.  He was attending a Navy Child Development Home in Oak Harbor, WA.  We were told that the providers had cleared their background checks.  My husband and I both expected "cleared their background checks" to mean that there was nothing on their criminal record, not that there could be any number of 35 crimes, including felonies, on their record, and that the information about those convictions is not required to be given to the parents.   We didn't find out until months later that the husband who ran the daycare with his wife was a convicted felon.  He had been convicted of residential burglary while he was extremely intoxicated and had at least one malicious mischief charge and a documented anger management problem.  We were told both providers had undergone background checks and had cleared them. The two providers sold everything within five months and in the middle of the CPS and homicide investigation they fled to Maine, where the woman has even attempted to provide childcare still. Here are two links from KOMO4 Seattle which cover what happened to my son as well as the loophole itself: http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/Day-Care-Felons-281805991.html http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/Family-wants-changes-to-state-law-after-son-died-from-injury-at-daycare-284046971.html Apparently, in the State of Washington, you can have any of the 35 crimes and felonies under the Washington Director's List of Allowable Offenses on your record and not only can you have unsupervised access to children, but your criminal record is not disclosed to the parents seeking care for their child.  Instead, the parents are told the providers have passed/cleared background checks.  Convicted felons shouldn't even be allowed to have unsupervised access to other peoples' children in the first place, let alone run a daycare.  Parents have the RIGHT to know everything about a potential provider so that they can make their own fully informed decision on whether or not they trust a provider in spite of their criminal record.   The list of allowable offenses is here:   http://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=170-06-0120 Had we been told about the provider's criminal record we would have never left our children in their care and he would still be alive today.  These laws need to change.  There needs to be a law, called "David's Law" that prevents anyone with a felony record from having unsupervised access to other peoples' children in daycare settings, and discloses the results of background checks of the daycare providers to the parents, so that those parents can have the entire story about the providers they are considering letting supervise their children.   On page 2 of this document you'll see the statement: "The reality is that parents cannot conduct effective background checks on child care providers on their own. Even the most motivated, well-financed parent search would still be limited to commercial databases, which the Department of Justice has said are incomplete." http://www.naccrra.org/sites/default/files/default_site_pages/2012/background_checks_white_paper_final_july_6.pdf The Government KNOWS that parents cannot conduct adequate background checks, but they don't disclose the results of the full background checks that THEY have access to.  That forces parents to rely on the state and government to assure them and protect their children to the highest extent possible.  Withholding information about felony (and other) convictions is immoral and reprehensible.  Parents have a primal NEED to protect their children, and yet we are limited in the information that we can obtain, information that interferes with the ability of parents to make the BEST, potentially life altering, decision that they can for their families with incomplete facts.  That is NOT right.   There are some parents in the world who don't mind if a child care center or child care home provider has a criminal record.  There are many more who would absolutely prefer that no criminals be allowed access to their children.  Parents have the right to know all the information about the person or people who may be taking care of their child(ren).  There is absolutely no reason that a provider's criminal background should be kept secret from parents of any child(ren) that may end up in the care of the provider(s).  

Shayna Roberts
14,062 supporters
Closed
Petitioning President of the United States

Remove the penalty that prevents people with disabilities from marrying!

When we think of marriage equality, we think about the ongoing fight LGBT couples face, but another minority group must deal with the stark reality that they are better off living in long-term committed relationships, without marriage. Like LGBT couples, these couples are denied the right to over 1,100 rights afforded to married couples. They have been denied access into their loved ones hospital rooms, faced family disputes over wills and have been denied spousal benefits from their partners workplace or the government in the event of their partners death. These are people with disabilities. Many people rely on the government for medical and financial assistance. Without medical insurance they would have no way to live independently. They would be forced into nursing homes (some already are), which would cost the government significantly more than getting Medicare and/or Medicaid does. At the same time, this assistance comes with a price. The government expects married couples to share income and that affects any assistance the couple receives. For many, their spouse makes too much (even if they make meager SSDI payments). This cuts into the healthcare services these couples receive. For some, their able-bodied partners make too much to allow them to qualify for medical assistance, if married, but not enough to pay out of pocket for costly medical equipment, medicine, or any other needs the disabled partner has. Add in the fact that even when a person with a disability can work, the opportunity for quality medical insurance is hard to find, due to their pre-existing condition and you will understand why many couples with disabilities are forced to live in domestic partnerships. Also, if two people with disabilities marry and they are on SSI or SSDI, their payments are CUT significantly, making it hard for them to maintain independence and afford their own food, shelter, clothing or other necessities. The time to stand up is now!! Let your Senators and Representatives know you want to remove the income caps placed on individuals with disabilities, so they can keep the government assistance and still be able to get married. Every loving couple deserves the right to marry. No one should have to choose between their wheelchair and their love, their therapy and their love, their medication and their love, their ability to eat or have a roof over their head and their love!! Those are not choices!! Help make it possible for those with disabilities to share their love without being penalized!Join our fight for marriage equality for people with disabilities:https://www.facebook.com/MarriageEqualityForPeopleWithDisabilities

Dominick Evans
6,842 supporters
Petitioning Donald J. Trump, John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Texas State House, Washington State House

Grant clemency: Inmate neglected, now kidneys are failing!!

Husband, Frank Ryan Pizzini, is in federal prison in Beaumont, Texas. When he arrived to Beaumont, August 23 2018, lab work was performed and shown to be abnormal. Husband was followed up with 5 months later, at this time diagnosed with end stage renal disease Jan 2019. Husband has history of high blood pressure and was often neglected and medication was not always given by medical staff. John Cornyn’s office was working with myself on some casework and received response from previous warden, on February 7, 2019. My husband is pending transfer to a FMC location and his condition is worsening during the process. It has been over a month since they have told us his kidneys were functioning at a 15%. He has been experiencing severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, extremely high blood pressure, fatigue, chronic pain and now becoming very weak to ambulate. Cornyn’s office has not received any other information from the prison in over a month and now I’m trying to step up the ladder and crying out for help from someone. I fear as his wife I will need to be making funeral arrangements quite soon during this “process” of him being transferred to a FMC to receive his dialysis treatment. My husband was advised from the medical doctor to apply for compassionate release which was quickly shutdown by the warden. He is in desperate need of dialysis and his kidneys were functioning at 15% over a month ago, I can only imagine what they are at now. Ryan was given 37 months when sentenced, he has completed almost 21 months and has been in the RDAP program and been on nothing but good behavior ever since. Husband was also enrolled in college courses, but recently had to drop due to his condition worsening. My husband has never been in trouble while incarcerated. I would like my husband to start receiving the proper help he needs and deserves which is requiring dialysis or if he is eligible for compassionate release since he doesn’t have much time left to serve, the better. Thank you for signing and sharing. 

Amber Pizzini
5,437 supporters
Petitioning Washington State Senate, Washington State House

Ban Washington State Pet Stores from Selling from Puppy and Kitten Mills

My name is Novia Liu, and I am a high school student in Bellevue, Washington and a teen volunteer with the Seattle Humane Society. For the past two summers, my fellow volunteer Ava Finn and I have been working on an animal welfare project to advocate for change in our neighborhood.  Every year, millions of puppies and kittens are inhumanely bred in mills across the United States. These puppy and kitten mills neglect the needs of their animals, only aiming to turn a profit while showing no regard for safety. Mothers carry litter after litter, and their offspring are prematurely ripped away from them. Through the internet and pet stores, helpless, emotionally and medically ill animals are sold to the public, and the mills receive enough monetary support to continue.  In Washington State, facilities containing upwards of 400 dogs have been discovered, their animals barely clinging to life. The problem, however, does not end here. Countless more innocent dogs and cats are funneled in from out of state mills into pet stores, circumventing state law and blindsiding adopters. We want to combat these cruel institutions beginning in our home of Washington State by banning pet stores from selling animals not sourced from shelters. Following in California and Maryland's example, we want the Washington State Legislature to pass an ordinance making the sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits not sourced from a shelter or rescue illegal for pet stores. The name of the partner organization would have to be clearly visible for those seeking to adopt a pet, and all animals would be required to have undergone spay/neuter surgery prior to going home.  By doing so, mills will be unable to sell their animals to pet stores, restricting their scope and preventing their continuation. It is essential that we close the channel between puppy/kitten mills and the public to save these animals from inhumane breeding and their offspring from being mere profits. This proposal's necessity is beyond legal precedent; it has the power to save lives.

Novia Liu
3,102 supporters