November 4, 2010
Voting Rights Victory!
Kansas voters have approved an amendment to their state constitution removing a provision that authorized the state legislature to deny the right to vote to anyone living with a mental illness.
In fact, the amendment won 63 percent of the vote--a landslide victory.
It may be the first time that such a constitutional restriction has been removed through a popular referendum.
About 10 years ago, a similar referendum campaign in Maine failed, but that restriction later was found unconstitutional in a landmark federal court decision.
The Kansas Mental Health Coalition, which includes NAMI Kansas, has declared that the outcome "sends a strong message that discrimination against people living with mental illness will not be tolerated."
The victory may encourage reform of laws in other states.
NPR Apology Accepted
National Public Radio (NPR) president and CEO, Vivian Schiller, sent a formal letter of apology and talked by phone with NAMI Executive Director Mike Fitzpatrick following NAMI's protest of a stigmatizing remark made during the recent controversy over the firing of long-time reporter Juan Williams.
Schiller had said that Williams should have kept his feelings about Muslims between himself and his "psychiatrist or publicist--take your pick."
"I believe that consulting a mental health professional should be as unremarkable as seeing any other health care professional," Schiller wrote in her letter. "I deeply regret my unintentionally hurtful remark. Please extend my heartfelt apology to those individuals and families who battle against the undeserved stigma of mental illness everyday."
In a NAMI Blog entry on Nov. 1, Fitzpatrick called the apology "sincere" and noted that it was one of "swiftest, most straightforward" responses NAMI has ever received to a stigma concern.
"That's consistent with the NPR that we have long known to be fair and compassionate in its reporting on mental illness," Fitzpatrick wrote.
On the stigma scale, NPR isn't Burger King.
Eyes and Ears
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