What do you think about when you reflect on 2015?
It was a year filled with tragedies, scandals, and debate about our identity as America. But it was also a year filled with hope. That hope is rooted in our own citizens, many of whom took it upon themselves to make change in their communities, their states, and, in some cases, the whole country.
They often did so by either starting petitions or supporting petitions. Together, these petitions starters and supporters were responsible for making a big impact in the United States this year.
We wish we could highlight all of our amazing 2015 victories. in lieu of that, we’ve put together a list of seven of the most popular victories by signature count to show you how you changed America in 2015.
Want to contribute to our 2016 victories list?
7 Victories that Changed America in 2015
1. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans (SAV) Act became law
This groundbreaking legislation aims to reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care. It was signed into law by President Obama in February, more one year and 188,743 signatures after Anthony Pike -- a friend of Clay Hunt, and fellow Marine -- started his petition.
2. Maryland created the Commission for Effective Community Inclusion of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Nearly 400,000 people signed Emma Saylor's petition asking Governor Martin O'Malley to create new trainings for first responders and law enforcement to prevent tragedies like the death of Emma’s brother Ethan from occurring again. The commission, chaired by national Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver, aims to help first responders better respond to situations involving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
3. Bishop Robert Finn resigned from the Catholic Church
The Vatican announced the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn in April. Finn was a bishop for three years after being the highest ranking Catholic Church official convicted of failing to report a pedophile priest in his church. More than 260,000 people signed a petition started by Jeff Weis, a father and member of Finn's church, more than three years ago.
4. Anti-bullying laws protected in the state of Indiana
236,000 people joined Danielle Green’s campaign to protect anti-bullying laws in Indiana. Green started the petition in honor of her daughter Angel, who committed suicide at age 14 after years of vicious bullying.
5. The White House banned the transfer of some military grade weapons to local police departments
Michael McPhearson, a U.S. Veteran living in St. Louis, MO, started a petition calling on the Obama Administration to suspend the transfer program so it could be reviewed -- with the ultimate goal a ban and restrictions on weapons. It was signed by more than 118,000 people and resulted in a ban on the transfer of grenade launchers, weaponized aircraft, high-caliber weapons, and bayonets, to local police departments. Strict restrictions were also enacted on armored vehicles, tactical vehicles, riot gear, and specialized firearms.
6. Jeff Mizanskey’s life without parole sentence was commuted
Jeff Mizanskey, a 62-year-old great-grandfather, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for three nonviolent marijuana offenses. After nearly 400,000 people signed his son Chris' petition, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon granted clemency to Jeff after 22 years in prison.
7. John Feal saw Congress reauthorize the Zadroga Act
John Feal, a 9/11 first responder, was integral in passing of the Zadroga Act in 2010, which covers health expenses and compensates other first responders who are suffering debilitating illnesses and injuries as a result of their service. When Congress stalled on reauthorizing the bill, he started a petition that pushed it through with the help of nearly 187,000 people.
What do you want to see change in 2016? Let us know in the comments or...