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No One Ever Suggested that Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt Should Have Been Denied the Right to Vote
October 26, 2010
Arlington, Va.—The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) declared today that Kansas voters will demonstrate national leadership if they "Vote Yes on 2!" in the referendum on a constitutional amendment on Election Day, Nov 2.
The amendment would eliminate language in the state constitution that singles out people living with mental illness and gives the legislature power to prohibit them from voting. Both houses of the state legislature have already approved the change, which requires voter approval.
The Kansas Mental Health Coalition is leading the campaign for the amendment. NAMI Kansas is a member of the coalition. NAMI's national organization also is supporting the proposal.
"Two of the four presidents carved on Mount Rushmore—Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt—struggled with mental illness," said NAMI's national director Mike Fitzpatrick. "No one has ever suggested that they should have been denied the right to vote."
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), for which former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas was a driving force in Congress.
"The ADA was an important step forward as a civil rights law," Fitzpatrick said. "Through Senator Dole, Kansas played a leading role in its enactment. This year, the state can make history again."
"The ADA was intended to end discrimination against people living with disabilities, including mental illness," Fitzpatrick said. "The amendment has the same goal. Through the referendum, Kansas has an opportunity to lead the country by taking another step forward."
Fitzpatrick outlined reasons to vote for the amendment.
"Both nationally and at the state and local level, NAMI respectfully asks Kansas voters to 'Vote Yes on 2," Fitzpatrick said."It's the right thing to do."
NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. NAMI has over 1100 state and local affiliates that engage in research, education, support and advocacy. NAMI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and does not endorse political candidates.
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