How New Yorkers can protect hard-earned rights, resist Washington, and advance our progressive vision.

Sanctuary means far more than immigration. Sanctuary is a haven for the values of a safe, inclusive, generous, kind and respectful society. Sanctuary is about local, grassroots action against unjust laws and public policies.

When I was born in 1963 in Atlanta, my family lived in a no man’s land between Jim Crow and anti-Asian immigration laws. Later, in my Akron, Ohio childhood, we were the only minority family in our community. Today, after 32 years as a New Yorker, I look back at what America has accomplished in my lifetime: civil rights, women’s rights, immigration reform, gay rights, protections for the environment and, almost, gender equality. So much remains to be done, but I have come to expect continuing social progress as the essential promise of America.

Not everyone shares my view. In just six months, the Trump administration has effected a startling reversal of protections, freedoms and rights painstakingly gained over decades. Looking forward over the next 42 months, I can only imagine the extent of the damage to come.

As the Federal government regresses, states can preserve gains and continue making progress. According to J.H. Snider of the Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse, fourteen states allow voters to call conventions to update their state Constitutions. By the year 2034, state Constitutional Convention votes will occur approximately every other year.

This year, on November 7, every New Yorker will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on a Constitutional Convention to modernize New York’s governing document. I believe that New York can be a Sanctuary State and the vehicle is the state’s Constitution. By voting for a Constitutional Convention, New Yorkers can set a national standard for what it means to be a Sanctuary State for the rest of the country:

The New York Constitution’s last major updates were in 1894 and 1938. Today’s context is:

The time to act is now.

A Sanctuary State would not only protect the values that Washington attacks, but would also advance those values to force the Legislature to align state and local law with the Constitution. Here is my personal wish list:

It is imperative that we create a grand and popular vision that preserves the hard-fought social gains of our traditional progressive coalition while addressing the gaping holes that the vast majority of New Yorkers fall through again and again.

The issues we will seek to preserve — and broaden — include workers’ rights, especially collective bargaining; our social safety net; marriage equality; women’s right to choose; our system of parks. Among the issues we will seek to reform or newly address include global warming; healthcare; the system of courts and criminal justice; and equal rights.

Together, we can make a new New York: a model for Sanctuary States around America.

What is your vision for a new, New York? I’d love to hear your ideas. Please share your thoughts here or on our website, visit our Facebook Page, or tweet to @SanctuaryState.

Art Chang is working on the “Yes” vote for a Constitutional Convention through The Sanctuary State Project.

Candidate for NYC Mayor. Reform activist. Technology innovator. Writer, thinker, strategist, photographer. Opinions are my own.