- Former First Lady Michelle Obama and a slew of celebrities signed a letter urging the American people to reach out to their senators in support of the For the People Act.
- The bill was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month and features massive expansions to voting rights, including increasing voter registration options, making Election Day a holiday, and requiring two weeks of early voting in federal elections.
- In addition to encouraging U.S. citizens to organize, the letter also asked the Senate to move quickly with this bill and even eliminate the filibuster in order to do so.
- The letter was sent by Obama’s election non-profit When We All Vote. Liza Koshy, Janelle Monáe, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Selena Gomez, Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, who are all co-chairs of the group, were among the big names attached.
Celebrities Sign Letter Urging Voting Rights Expansions
Michelle Obama, Ariana Grande, Janelle Monáe, Selena Gomez, Liza Koshy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more stars signed a letter with When We All Vote on Tuesday urging Americans to contact their senators in support of the For the People Act, a bill aimed at expanding voting rights nationwide.
The bill was passed by the House of Representatives in early March. Among other things, it will increase voter registration options by allowing same-day and online registration, require two weeks of early voting for federal elections, make Election Day a holiday, and restore the right to vote for people with felony convictions.
Voting rights have become a priority for many Democrats as there are currently 43 states that have carried over, introduced, or pre-filed 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access.
“What’s happening is this: After more Americans than ever voted in the last presidential election, some state leaders believe that silencing them is the only way to maintain their grip on power,” the letter said. “They’re hoping to choose their voters, rather than the other way around.”
The signers of the letter — which also include Billie Eilish, Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, The Jonas Brothers, Tom Hanks, and Kerry Washington — encouraged readers to write to and call their senators to fight against these bills, which “particularly impact Black, Brown, and young people.”
“Some of these undemocratic measures have already become law, with others surely to follow,” the letter added.
The letter mentioned the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol and said that even though some of the insurrectionists are facing justice now, the threat to democracy still exists.
“We write to you today as citizens who love this country and care deeply about its future,” the letter said. “And right now, the most important thing we can do to protect that future is to rise together in support of the For the People Act currently before the Senate—the most significant piece of legislation to strengthen our democracy since the Civil Rights movement.”
The letter also specifically called on the Senate to eliminate or reform the filibuster if that allows the For the People Act to be passed more swiftly. They described it as “a relic of Jim Crow and an arcane chamber rule increasingly abused to create gridlock and forestall progress.”
“We cannot continue to allow the will of the majority of Americans to be overshadowed by an oppositional few fixated on maintaining power,” it said.
Stars Spread the Word Online
Many of the stars who signed the letter shared it on social media to encourage their followers to organize.
“Now is our chance to protect and strengthen our democracy and put power back where it belongs—with the people,” Selena Gomez wrote.
The issue remains in the Senate’s court. On Wednesday, Senators discussed the For the People Act during a hearing. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said it should be a priority for the country.
“Instead of the Republican Party trying to win back voters they lost in this election, they’re trying to disenfranchise voters,” he wrote on Twitter. “The #ForThePeople Act is a priority of this Congress to fight this and renew Democracy.”
Still support is largely divided along party lines and the bill faces opposition from many Republicans, including Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ut.) who wrote an editorial dubbing it the “Illegal Voting Act.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) called it a “solution in search of a problem.”
See what others are saying: (Complex) (The Independent) (USA Today)
Chris Pratt Denies Association With Hillsong Church: “I’ve Never Actually Been”
The church has been accused of having anti-LGBTQ ties, something Pratt has taken a hit for.
Pratt Addresses Hillsong Controversy
After several years of facing criticism for his alleged ties to the controversial Hillsong Church, actor Chris Pratt said he has “never actually been” to the church and is “not a religious person.”
The Hillsong Church has been condemned for being anti-LGBTQ. The issue received increased attention in 2019 when actor Elliot Page tweeted, “If you are a famous actor and you belong to an organization that hates a certain group of people, don’t be surprised if someone simply wonders why it’s not addressed.”
“Being anti LGBTQ is wrong, there aren’t two sides,” he continued.
At the time, Pratt responded to the allegations by saying that “nothing could be further from the truth” and that he believes “everyone is entitled to love who they want.” He doubled down on his denial in a profile published Tuesday in Men’s Health.
“I never went to Hillsong. I’ve never actually been to Hillsong,” he told the outlet. “I don’t know anyone from that church.”
Instead, Pratt said he attends Zoe Church in Los Angeles, though not exclusively. According to Men’s Health, Zoe Church is not without its issues. The church was founded by a pastor who produced a film that equated “sexual brokeness” to “same-sex attraction.” Other outlets have also described it as a Hillsong affiliate.
Pratt faced his biggest wave of backlash in 2020 when Internet memes declared him the “worst” Chris compared to other actors with the same first name, including Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Pine. A slew of celebrities quickly came to Pratt’s defense, arguing the criticism was unjustifiably mean. Their speedy responses only heightened the online conversation and many of the celebrities who spoke out were eventually mocked for doing so.
Pratt Says He is Not Religious
As for why the Internet has become increasingly anti-Pratt, his alleged association to Hillsong was a major factor. Some also speculated he was a supporter of Donald Trump as he did not join his “Avengers” co-stars for a Joe Biden fundraiser, though Pratt is not usually politically outspoken in either direction.
Pratt believes the backlash against him started when he gave a speech at the MTV Movie Awards in 2018 where he said, “God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.” He understands why those remarks may have rubbed people the wrong way.
“Maybe it was hubris. For me to stand up on the stage and say the things that I said, I’m not sure I touched anybody,” he told Men’s Health. “Religion has been oppressive as fuck for a long time. I didn’t know that I would kind of become the face of religion when really I’m not a religious person.”
He went on to explain that in his eyes, there is a difference between adhering to certain customs and believing in God versus using God to control and harm people and justify hatred.
“The evil that’s in the heart of every single man has glommed on to the back of religion and come along for the ride,” he said.
See what others are saying: (Men’s Health) (The AV Club) (People)
Jodie Sweetin Releases Statement After Getting Pushed By Officers at Pro-Choice Protest: “This Will Not Deter Us”
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote on Instagram.
Actress Pushed at Protest
After viral footage showed Jodie Sweetin getting pushed to the ground by officers with the Los Angeles Police Department while attending a pro-choice protest, the “Full House” actress said demonstraters “will continue fighting” for their rights.
Sweetin was attending a protest off the 101 freeway on Saturday following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Photojournalist Mike Ade, who captured the video, said the actress was “trying to lead a group of peaceful protestors away from the freeway” when officers pushed her. Sweetin was standing on a curb when she was pushed and fell down on the cement road. Ade wrote that she was “fortunately…okay.”
Ade shared a handful of other videos depicting officers using similar tactics on other protesters. As these videos started circulating online, many became outraged by the LAPD’s response to the protests.
Sweetin Addresses Incident
Following the incident, Sweetin released a statement where she said the fight against the court’s decision is not over.
“I’m extremely proud of the hundreds of people who showed up yesterday to exercise their First Amendment rights and take immediate action to peacefully protest the giant injustices that have been delivered from our Supreme Court,” Sweetin said. “Our activism will continue until our voices are heard and action is taken. This will not deter us, we will continue fighting for our rights. We are not free until ALL of us are free.”
Sweetin also shared footage of the incident and other clips of officers clashing with protesters on her Instagram story. She cheered protesters in a comment on a video of the push shared by a social justice group called The Progressivists.
“Love everyone out there in the streets fighting for what’s right,” she wrote.
According to a statement obtained by Deadline, the LAPD is looking into the matter.
“The LAPD is aware of a video clip of a woman being pushed to the ground by officers not allowing the group to enter on foot and overtake the 101 freeway,” the statement said. “The force used will be evaluated against the LAPD’s policy and procedure.”
See what others are saying: (Deadline) (Rolling Stone) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Dave Chappelle Decides Against Having Former High School’s Theater Named After Him
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian reportedly said.
Theater Named Announced
Comedian Dave Chappelle opted on Monday to not have the theater at his alma mater high school named after him, according to a report from The Washington Post.
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. previously planned to name its theater in honor of Chappelle, as he is a distinct alum and donor. While Chappelle formerly said such a gesture would be “the most significant honor of [his] life,” he announced during Monday’s naming ceremony that it would bear a different title.
The school’s theater will instead be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
A naming ceremony was initially set to take place in November, but was postponed after the comedian began facing backlash for transphobic jokes in his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Among other things, he said he was “Team TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner and remarks comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
The jokes embroiled Chappelle in controversy, and reports claimed that some students at Duke Ellington took issue with the comments. When Chappelle ended up visiting the school amid the scandal, Politico reported that one student told the comedian, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child.”
Chappelle Defends Controversial Special
According to The Post, Chappelle said the criticism against him “sincerely” hurt, but added that “the Ellington Family is my family.” He claimed he did not want the theater being named after him to distract students.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he said according to Josh Rogin, a columnist for the outlet.
Rogin also tweeted that Chappelle took time out of the ceremony to slam the criticisms levied against him, accusing upset students of promoting someone else’s agenda.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he reportedly said.
“You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Chappelle continued while denouncing the press coverage of his Netflix special.
According to David Frum, a staff writer for The Atlantic who attended the ceremony, Chappelle suggested he was open to potentially adding his name to the theater at a later date when the community is ready.