Virgin Islands Legislature Hosts Forum on Equal Rights

Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone invites all legislative staff, senators and the general public to attend a special forum Thursday evening to learn more about efforts to ensure that those residing in U.S. territories are assured the same rights and opportunities as all other American citizens.

Leading the discussion is the President of the We The People Project, Neil Weare, a Yale educated civil rights attorney who grew up in Guam and who has been actively working to achieve equal rights for the more than 5 million U.S. citizens living in America's insular areas. 

The meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers. It will be televised on LEGIT TV.

Attorney Weare argues that the 14th amendment guarantees citizenship to all those born in the United States and that the U.S. Congress should not have the power to "turn on and off" the rights of these citizens simply because they reside in or were born outside the 50 U.S. states.

"The We the People Project offers a new vision and strategy that frames these issues around the simple idea that our core rights as Americans should not be based on where we live in the United States," Weare said. "Whether one lives in a state, a territory, or DC, our basic rights as citizens should be the same. By bringing together the voices of the nearly 5 million Americans who live in U.S. territories and DC, our goal is to start a new conversation that will elevate these issues to the national level and open the door to new possibilities."

Senator Malone said he helped to organize the informational forum as he shares Attorney Weare's concerns that in many ways Virgin Islanders are treated as second class citizens.

"I have long contended that we are 'equally American' and should be afforded the same privileges as all other U.S. citizens," the Senate President said. "Virgin Islanders have been sent to war by Presidents that they are not able to vote for and when they return our veterans do not get the same services. I am especially concerned about our rights in terms of health care - our people get less coverage under Medicaid and thus far we have not really benefited in terms of new health care reforms. While we do enjoy some privileges under our special status as a territory these are issues that must be closely examined and I applaud the We The People Project's efforts to inform and advocate."

For more information about the We The People Project, please visit


  We The People Project Town Hall Meeting

6 p.m., Thursday, September 12, 2013

Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers

St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands 

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commented 2013-12-31 02:32:51 -0500 · Flag
Thank you
commented 2013-09-14 17:19:05 -0400 · Flag
Why should we in the Virgin Islands and in the other territories, not be on equal par with our fellow US citizens such as electing our president and making the best use of the newly created health care act afforded to all US citizens? The time for change is now, be that change please.