Indian-American candidates pledge support for women’s right to choose

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Susan Lee being honored with the AAPI 2022 Woman Trailblazer Award on May 9, 2022 at the New Fortune Restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Gaithersburg, Maryland: The Democratic party is working to “protect a woman’s right to choose,,” asserted Maryland State Senator Susan Lee, at the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month celebration, which was also attended by several Indian-American candidates and politicos May 9, 2022.

The event was organized by the Maryland Democratic Party AAPI Diversity Leadership Council (DLC) at the New Fortune restaurant. All Democratic gubernatorial candidates contesting in Maryland, including Wes Moore, Ashwani Jain, Tom Perez, and John King spoke at the event. Candidates for other positions, Aruna Miller for Lt. Governor, Brooke Lierman for Comptroller, Katie Curran O’Malley for Attorney-General, Tazeen Ahmad for MCDCC At-large, and Marylin Pierre for Judge among other candidates were also present.

Primaries in Maryland will be held on July 19th, with early voting occurring from July 7-14.

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“I know how important it is to support Democrats. We are the party of the New Deal. We are the party of the Voting Rights Act. We are the party of the Civil Rights Act, and we work to empower all people. Most importantly, we are working to protect a woman’s right to choose,” said Lee, who was honored with the AAPI 2022 Woman Trailblazer award at the event.

Lee’s statement about women’s right to choose comes on the heels of a leaked Supreme Court opinion authored by Judge Samuel Alito, suggesting that the Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, thereby restricting women’s rights to abortion in the US.

Wes Moore and Aruna Miller on May 9, 2022 at the New Fortune Restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Calling the leaked opinion “deeply concerning,” Aruna Miller, the Indian American Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor of Maryland, Miller, a former delegate in the Maryland House first elected in 2010, told News India Times, “no one has a right to decide on what a woman can do with her body besides herself and her physician. That’s what I say. We’re going to fight as hard as we can to make sure that this does not get overturned. And should it, it would be tragic for our country. Because the individuals that are going to suffer the most are those in our underserved communities. Just because you ban abortion does not mean it’s not going to continue. All it means is you’re banning safe legal access to reproductive health care.”

When asked about the leaked opinion, Lee told News India Times, “I think that it’s setting us back 50 years. The gains of all the civil rights leaders’, and women’s groups are being setback. A woman’s right to choose should be our right. It’s a constitutional right that should not be overturned. We must fight back.” Lee also said she was honored to be receiving the Trailblazer award and hoped Asian Americans would come out in big numbers to vote in upcoming primaries and elections.

Ashwani Jain on May 9, 2022 at the New Fortune Restaurant in Gaithersburg, Maryland. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

Reacting to the leaked opinion, Jain, a 32-year-old Indian American Democratic candidate for Governor of Maryland, told News India Times, “I’m disgusted, I’m angry. I was the first candidate in the entire state of Maryland to release a comprehensive reproductive justice platform in January 2021. We were already preparing to make sure that we give people access to health care. And I’m sad to say that people in other states are not going to have full access to health care that they need. But at least in Maryland, we’re going to make sure we are an abortion sanctuary, and we’re not discriminating anyone based on the services they need.”

Jain promised that he would be a new kind of Governor, one who is more accessible, accountable, and transparent. He’s not just trying to win this election, but he’s trying to change politics for generations to come, he said.

Jain was born and raised in Montgomery County and is a cancer survivor. He has experience working in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, and has served in the Obama White House as well. His running mate, LaTrece Hawkins Lytes is a healthcare advocate and a juvenile Type 1 diabetes survivor.

One of the big programs being touted by Democrats is the Maryland Now plan, which they say, is fully paid for. Some of the highlights of Maryland Now is the elimination of the state income tax for 95% of Marylanders; free public transit; legalizing marijuana, and a first of its kind guaranteed jobs program in the nation.

Moore, a Rhodes Scholar and a former White House Fellow, who is running with Miller, said  “Aruna and I are running to make sure that we can create pathways for work, wages, and wealth for all our families. No matter where you start, no matter where you’re from, no matter what you look like. Because the reality is we have to create these opportunities and let people know that no matter any of those things, these are things that not only we should never be ashamed of, but that’s the diversity that makes our state great.”

During his address, Former US Secretary of Labor, and head of the Democratic National Committee, Perez, who is also contesting for Governor of Maryland said, “folks, we are living in a remarkable moment of struggle, a remarkable moment of tension, we have a global democracy recession, we have a global pandemic, we have a dictator who’s a war criminal, and we come to you with unrelenting optimism.”

Former US Secretary of Education, King, is also a Maryland gubernatorial candidate, said, “I served as United States Secretary of Education for President Obama. And I’m running for governor for the very same reasons that I got into public service in the first place, a deep belief in the role that public institutions can play in people’s lives. And I know that because public schools saved my life.”

Maryland State Speaker, Adrienne Jones, Maryland Senate President, Bill Ferguson, Maryland Democratic Party (MDP) Chair, Yvette Lewis, MDP AAPI DLC Chair, and Deputy Treasurer, Devang Shah, DNC AAPI Caucus Chair, Bel Leong-Hong among others were also present at the event.

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