Thursday, November 30, 2017

We're Still Dying, World AIDS Day, the Attack on Healthcare and other Reflections on CRASH the Capitol: NO #TaxScam! NO healthcare cuts! #TaxScam #TrumpTaxScam #GOPTaxScam #KillTheBill

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We Are Dying (STILL) – A World AIDS Day Action at Duffy Square
 — with AlanTimothy Lunceford-Stevens.

Eighteen hours after arriving back home from the cd to stop the tax bill in congress, I made my way to Times Square for ACT UP's World AIDS Day action.   The group declared: "We are here to hold this administration and the international community accountable for perpetuating the stigma of HIV. In 2016, 1.6 million people globally contracted HIV. Currently, 72 countries criminlize HIV. If we want to end the epidemic, we must push legislations to decriminalize HIV and to stop using stigma-inducing language. We'll also be highlighting cases in which people were incarcerated for being HIV+. Join us. 
WHAT: "WAD: We Are Dying (Still)" - a protest prior to World AIDS Day
WHEN: Wednesday, November 29, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm 
WHERE: Times Square steps (7th Ave & W 47th St, New York, NY 10036)."

With the republicans poised to gut the social safety net which has allowed those people with HIV and health insurance to cope, the action could not feel more relevant. 

This writer in DC the day before. Every day the resistance to the bill expands. 
As my friend Michael Kerr wrote before the action: "For those dear to me with GOP leanings - this isn't about how you vote and think so much as it's ABOUT MY LIFE AND MY ABILITY TO LIVE. It's about me being able to eventually leave NYC (what I call an HIV sanctuary city where healthcare and medications are free to me because I live below poverty but my landlord gets 62% of my social security) and move to Florida to live and care for my mother at some point. It's about making sure fewer and fewer people do not have to go through what I've experienced including your own children and your grandchildren...
Friday, December 1st is World AIDS Day - and people are STILL dying...
That's why tonight I'll be at Times Square at 6 pm with my hardworking comrades to make an impactful statement about HIV/AIDS and how our current government administration has been promoting the epidemic instead of fighting it.
Even to be there tonight I had to stay in bed all day yesterday just to have the energy. That's what my life is like living with HIV - one day up and about for no more than 5 hours of really good energy, the next one usually in bed resting the entire day. That's my life literally - and besides living in almost constant fear I consider myself very lucky.

Arriving I saw my friends Michael, Timothy, and Mel, greeting some of the newer members of ACT UP I am only just getting to know. 

Timothy and i had been in DC all day together, the day before.  

"Health care is a right, health care is a right!  Stop the Tax Bill!" we chanted at Times Square. 

"HIV is not a crime. Pills not prison!"

Standing by Tim, I thought of our actions the day before. Driving to DC, Tim told me why he was there.

 "I came down here cause I'm on medicare disability," he explained to me. "And they are going to gut it.   I wouldn't be able to pay my $81,000.00 for chemo thats paid for by medicare and insurance.  I've had HIV for thirty years.  I've used healthcare to stay alive."

And he showed his courage and love to be down in dc fighting for all of us.

People like Tim are part of what make this activism worthwhile.

Many people with HIV were down in DC fighting.

Olga told me her story. "My dad was a Holocaust survivor. After that he lived through Stalin's starvation.  Whenever he saw someone wronged, he stood up.  He showed me how to stand up. I was taught very young to be an advocate.  And more in 1999 when i was diagnosed with HIV.  And today, i don't want to see more people treated the same way i was, with stigma.  It opened my eyes to what happens when people do not have insurance or rights.  I am so scared this is going to be another Holocaust," she concluded, "killing off those who do not fit in."

People with HIV were not the only people in DC.  Countless advocates, regular people were there. 

Anna told me: "three weeks ago I had an accident.  The bill was $200,000.00  If I had had to pay that I would have been bankrupted.  I'm a lucky one  I have insurance.  Everyone should have health insurance."  

Dan Royales came from Florida for the action.  "I'm a professor of history and the Republican Tax bill would raise the tax burden on students and increases the cost of college by $65 billion dollars, making education less accessible."

Elizabeth Deutsche, also in line for the hearing, explained:  "The  GOP tax bill will destroy medicaid and medicare, forcing the elderly out of nursing homes, increasing the financial burden on everyone, destabilizing health insurance markets."

Dan followed up explaining the tax bill from the perspective of HIV/AIDS.  "I live in Florida, where we have the highest rates of new infections for HIV.  People with HIV rely on medicare and medicaid for the medications that keep them alive and less likely to pass it on.  The tax plan will trigger deep cuts to medicaid and medicare.  So people with HIV will die faster, more painfully, making the epidemic worse."

As of now, the bill has not passed.  Many are going back to DC on Tuesday.  As Paul Davis explains:  
yesterday, the birddog nation was in fierce form. Senator Enzi was forced to rush a vote that had been planned to take place after at least an hour of speechifying—but instead he had to take roll over riotous disruptions that shook the halls of Congress and left him visibly shaken. The Rs voted and fled the room, but were snagged by reporters in the hallway, surrounded by birddoggers, and shamed for their disgraceful votes.
A day of disarray later, the republican leadership are still trying to cut precarious deals. Turns out though that the “triggers” that revoke corporate tax cuts the fiscal conservatives demanded create massive irritation with the business conservatives, and such deals are on the verge of breaking the willingness of the House republicans to simply rubber stamp the Senate bill. We have openings with both likely and unlikely suspects, ranging from Senator Kennedy in LA to Moran in Kansas, Tillis in NC to Collins in ME.

This deal is NOT done — we are teetering on the brink, and the victory is tremendous if we can pull it off! At the end of the day, the Rs have had one act this year: take from the sick to give to the rich. We are really close to stopping them in their tracks and grinding their entire agenda to a halt.
Our opponents are putting everything they have into this fight. We need to come back stronger.
DEC 5: the ultimate showdown in DC. We must be more powerful than ever before.
NOW: LIGHT UP THOSE PHONES. Make phone calls AND *set up phone meetings* with staffers from Moran, Collins, Tillis, Kennedy, Murkowski, Flake, McCain, Young, Corker, Lankford, Daines, and Johnson. 202 224 3121 is the Congressional Switchboard.
Next week: COME TO DC. We will transport, house and feed you, and deal with all legal support. Caveat: if you are far away from DC and expensive to transport, we can probably only fly you if you can risk arrest. SIGN UP HERE, NOW:
We’ll try to arrive by Monday, get trained, then be ready to roll out Tuesday morning the 5th.
There will be buses from NYC and Philadelphia. If you think you can fill a bus or a van from somewhere else, please let us know and we’ll help you pay for it.
Travel Qs?: email Molly at
PS: also, a reminder: there is a national action for a clean DACA in DC on Dec 6th. We are very happy to fly you to Washington and keep you over if you can help support that action too.

Paul Davis
National Advocacy Coordinator, Housing Works • Washington, DC+1 202 817 0129
Skype/im: pdavisx

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