As we gather for the holidays, we remember the empty chairs at far too many holiday tables: for servicemembers killed overseas, children slain by gun violence, and loved ones lost to AIDS, cancer and other diseases due to stigma and poverty -- and we recommit ourselves to the work we must do to advocate for policies in diplomacy, safety, healthcare, and opportunity that reflect our highest American values of peace and equality.
Every vow we make in honor of those empty chairs around our holiday tables will require a political action: to wage peace, to fight for sensible gun laws and policies that address the root causes of violence for which guns are the accelerators, to expand healthcare for all in the Affordable Care Act, to break down the institutionalized misogyny, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia in our laws, and to fight income inequality by investing in jobs, comprehensive immigration reform, and preserving the American Safety Net from food stamps to unemployment insurance to veterans benefits to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
That is why all I want for Christmas are my voting rights from which all other rights flow. Without voting rights, our struggle for women's rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, immigrants' rights and workers' rights is just a conversation. We know that a handful of voter fraud cases have been used to silence millions of voices and we must change that.
As we celebrate various Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, and Kwanzaa celebrations, let us remember those empty chairs around our own holiday tables and help ensure that all American adults can partake in the civic sacrament of voting.
Therefore, during this holiday season, in addition to passing along seasons greetings, please urge your Member of Congress to act on these vital issues and to support the bipartisan renewal of the Voting Rights Act. The best holiday present you can give yourself is your vote and your voice.