By Bill Huggins, Member At-Large, Nevada Green Party Executive Committee,
and Mary Lawrence, Co-Chair Animal Rights Committee, Connecticut Green Party
The Green Party of the United States is the only major political party with a committee dedicated to the issue of animal rights—our ARC, for short. The expanding study of ethology, or nonhuman animal intelligence in natural settings, weekly changes our perceptions of how our nonhuman animal kin engage with one another and us. All nonhuman animals, even the smallest, play key roles in our social world and larger ecology, and our actions affect them, be they the species we have chosen to domesticate or those fortunate enough to live in the dwindling spaces we leave mostly alone.
The GPUS advocates for animals in all categories that are subject to some form of human influence: companion animals, exotic animals, laboratory animals, animals in sport and entertainment, endangered/threatened species, wild animals, and especially farmed animals—those used for food and clothing. Any sentient being deserves the right to a life free of unnecessary pain, with access to good medical care. Animals used in laboratory experiments and for food and clothing are probably the most problematic of these groups, especially as cold-blooded animals are exempt from the Animal Welfare Act. We encourage the highest legal protections for them.
In a patriarchal society, so long as one form of oppression exists others will continue to flower, whether based on the color of one’s skin, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, physical ability, age, class, or social status. Similarly, patriarchal attitudes have led to the way we view nonhuman animals. We see nonhuman animal rights as the social justice movement of the 21st century and strive to end their exploitation. The ARC works towards this goal in a variety of ways, one of the most important combining activism with education: we have compiled a database of articles, books, online documents, and films and videos that assist people in understanding why this issue is so important to our society today. Changing the way we view and treat nonhuman animals begins with education. This perspective may be new to some, but a paradigm shift of this magnitude never comes without challenge. We also provide links and opportunities to various forms of actions from petition drives to direct streetside protests. Members decide what level of commitment is acceptable for them.
The ARC recognizes nonhuman animals as sentient beings who possess inherent rights to live a natural life free from human exploitation and abuse, and advocates legislation supporting these rights. The ARC believes nonhuman animals should be granted legal status of “person” not “property,” affording them the legal right to be represented in a court of law. It is time to move past the idea that nonhuman animals are simply furry automatons who move thoughtlessly through their lives and realize that they are as complex and individual as we are. Using nonhuman animals in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), for example, completely ignores their right to free movement, healthy air and water, the means to use their unique intelligences in natural settings, and the ability to come together with others of their kind—a social need in all living things and key to happiness and mental health. Not to mention the ecological consequences of raising so many nonhuman animals in such a small polluted space. This viewpoint aligns with the GPUS’ platform in Section III: Ecological Wisdom, which calls for an end to industrial agriculture and a return to local farming practices. Though the ARC wishes to state clearly that it does not believe in the myth of the happy farm.
To that end, we recommend repealing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and ag-gag laws. These laws, put in place by industry and political allies who willfully ignore the unbiased science of nonhuman animal cognition, infringe upon Constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties and First Amendment rights. Activists who investigate the horrific conditions that animal industries hide from the general public should be given the same protection as whistle blowers who expose corruption, not treated as terrorists. We all stand to benefit from a more open and well-educated populace—all of us, human and nonhuman alike.
Many ARC members are also practicing vegans. In 1940, Donald Watson defined veganism as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” This sentiment stands perfectly in line with the Green core value of Nonviolence and starkly at odds with the platforms of our two major parties. If you are considering veganism because you care about nonhuman animals, to improve your health, help the environment, or any other reason, our database has information to assist you.
We are your Green Party of the United States Animal Rights Committee. We stand for you, the nonhuman animals, the land and water and air we all share. Mary Lawrence, CT, and Craig Seeman, NY, the ARC’s Co-chairs, can be contacted through the Green Party Animal Rights Committee’s Facebook page. Join us.