Your Papers, Please…

Having to carry an ID and show it to any government employee who demands it is a notion that was once restricted to the ravings of the tinfoil hat crowd. And if you ask most Americans today if they think such government intrusion is possible, they’d laugh you out of the room. But the fact is, the Bush administration is on the verge of instituting such a draconian, invasive national ID system.

The Real ID Act would allow the government and businesses to capture information on Americans' purchases, sex lives, political affiliations, and daily activities.

Thankfully, 21 states have stood up against the Bush administration’s shocking overreach. This video will tell you everything you need to know about the Real ID Act:

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Visit the NYCLU website to pass this video on and find out what you can stop the U.S. from turning into a “your papers, please” society.

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This is off topic, but I'm part of a class of people who don't travel anywhere without "papers." I'm a gay man, with a husband and two adopted children.

A couple of years ago, we heard from a friend of ours that his partner had passed away due to a brain aneurysm. He was healthy, and relatively young so it was unexpected. We were shocked and saddened. Over the years we'd gone to their wedding and celebrated their successful adoption of their son after several disappointments. It felt so unfair, as it would if it happened in any other family.

When our friend got to the hospital, he was told that he could not see his husband or get any information on his condition unless he had proof of their relationship. Because he was "not next of kin." So, he got in his car, drove home, and retrieved the documents -- wills, advance directives, medical powers of attorney, etc. -- and drove back to the hospital, all the while not knowing what was wrong with his husband or if his husband would still be alive when he got there.

He was lucky. He presented the documents, and got to be with his husband those last few days before the end. Bill Flanagan was not. Neither were Janice Langhebin or John Crisci.

When I told my neighbor down the street that story, she said she only had to say three words when she arrived at the hospital, after her husband was rushed to the emergency room: "I'm his wife." She got a three word response: "Right this way." No request for a marriage license or other "papers."

Since then, whenever our family travels we carry our "papers" with us -- wills, advance directives, medical powers of attorney, adoptions decrees and birth certificates for our sons, etc. Not only that, we each keep copies of those papers in our desks at work, so we won't have to make that drive home to retrieve them in the middle of a crisis.

We don't go anyway without our "papers." As an African American who has traced his history back to a slave ancestor who also couldn't travel without "papers" giving him the right to be out and about, the significance isn't entirely lost on me.

Real citizen's don't need "papers."

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