Equal Rights Are Not a Budget Item

Bigotry never trumps freedom and freedom is not possible without equal rights.

And so it is that people with disabilities are being told having equal rights depends on the economy, thus relegating them to a budget item.

ADAPT, the country’s most prestigious disability rights organization in this writer’s view, has  launched a Defending Our Freedom campaign to address the carnage being inflicted on the lives of people with disabilities. Across this country state budget cuts are forcing people with disabilities, as well as seniors, back into nursing homes, all this in direct violation of the 11-year-old  United States Supreme Court Olmstead Decision which says Americans with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated settings.

The Kahrmann Consumer Advocacy Coalition (KCAC)  completely supports the ADAPT campaign.  The KCAC will be seeking to address one of the symptoms of this attack on the rights of people with disabilities when members of its leadership team meet Friday with Mark Kissinger, a deputy commissioner in the New York State Department of Health, and his staff. The state’s DOH has recently issued a directive to providers of services to people with brain injuries living in the community that, if it stands as is, will likely send back into nursing homes and put others at risk.

The survivors themselves have sued the state to stop the carnage.

It is appropriate that this piece is being written on the birthday of Rosa Parks, an extraordinary woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery Alabama and, with that single act of defiance, sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott which led to the end of segregation on the buses and brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to national prominence.

Treating any minority, whether it be people with disabilities, people who are Gay or Lesbian, people who are black, Hispanic, Jewish,  Muslim, and so on as if they are less than human, is not only illegal, it is a foolish strategy. Why? Because the bigotry that blinds people to the humanity of others  leads them to underestimate the will and resourcefulness of the very people they are dehumanizing.

We are born with equal rights. They are not something we need to earn or be given as a line item in a budget.



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