Susan Graham was devastated when she heard her 17-year-old daughter lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Then she began seeing the news stories pouring in from all over the state relating how people were being told to stay home, lock their businesses up tight and wait for the pandemic to blow over.
But after a month, a number of Wyomingites are ready to get back to normal and go back to work. This has been the sentiment expressed at two “Choice to Work” rallies in Casper and now a third rally is about to be held in the state’s largest city.
At noon on Monday at the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne, the Rally for the Choice to Work will be led by Graham and a number of other volunteers. She joked that half a million people will be in attendance, but ultimately she’s unsure of what the turnout will look like. Whether hundreds or only tens of people show up, the rally will be a peaceable assembly, she said.
“It’s just like Gov. (Mark) Gordon said at his last press conference, ‘All jobs are essential,'” Graham said. “We’re seeing coal miners and oil workers suffer from decreased working hours, but it’s also the small business owners and these people deemed ‘non-essential’ that we want to focus on.”
The rally is intended for those who believe Gordon’s orders to close businesses where 10 or more people are likely to gather and businesses providing personal services are unconstitutional and harmful to the state and nation. The Wyoming rallies follow in the footsteps of similar gatherings taking place across the country in areas such as Michigan and Minnesota.
Although Graham is retired, she knows how important it is for Wyoming’s morale and economy to reopen businesses and have people back at their stations.
However, she’s quick to point out that the coronavirus is a problem all over the world and that high-risk people should continue to stay home. She used Sweden as a great example of a country using “targeted quarantine,” where all of the people considered at high risk of catching the virus are asked to stay home as much as possible.
Graham pointed to two articles of the Wyoming Constitution to back the Choice to Work group’s point: sections 7 and 21. The former specifies that no person or group has absolute and arbitrary power over anyone else and the latter gives Wyomingites the right to peacefully assemble, which is also guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Ultimately, Graham hopes Gordon will hear the voice of the people who are ready to go back to work and make a consideration for their needs. Gordon announced Friday that the state would leave his orders in place until at least April 30.
“The people coming to this rally are those who sincerely believe that their voice is just as important as their vote,” Graham said. “We just want to promote the choice to work. Each state was set up to be its own republic, so it should be the choice of its people to go back to work responsibly so they can save lives and businesses.”