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NEA Celebrates the 4th of July

The 4th of July is always a relatively slow day news-wise at the RA as the delegates take an extended break to celebrate.

Gaily dressed in red, white, and blue, the delegates listened to members of the NEA's executive committee read from speeches made by civil rights and union luminaries such as agricultural organizer Cesar Chavez, slain gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, and Barbara Jordan, the first black woman representative to the House of Representatives from the South. The NEA's chorus also sang patriotic songs.

Interesting timing, then, that a number of the bylaws debated this morning essentially turned on free-speech issues. One of the bylaw amendments would cause the NEA to take "no position" on the issues of abortion and family planning, a change that would invalidate other NEA resolutions on the issue that support women's reproductive rights.

Another bylaw seeks to prohibit the NEA from endorsing a candidate for president unless the ballot lists nominees from all seven political parties. (Right now, there's an extensive vetting process before candidates can be put before the RA, and not surprisingly, it's usually a Democratic candidate and a straight up-and-down vote.)

"That, to me, is fascism," one delegate supporting this resolution said. "Put a variety [of candidates] in front of me. Let me choose."

The bylaws won't be voted on until tomorrow.

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