The Personal is Political
Martha moved to the Netherlands because she could not bring her wife, Lin, to live in the USA due to lack of recognition of their relationship under US law.
Forced to choose between the love of her life and her country, Martha chose love. She resigned from her Silicon Valley job and took on the challenge of building a new life in the Netherlands.
Martha turned adversity into advocacy. She founded the Love Exiles Foundation to support American citizens living in exile and their families and work for immigration policies that respect and honor all US families.
Love Exiles mobilized Americans around the world, gaining the attention of the media, advocates, and policymakers. Because making laws work for Americans abroad requires electing Democrats, Martha joined DA in 2004 as a local voter registration volunteer. Her efforts led to DA passing one of the first resolutions in support of immigration rights for same-sex couples.
In June 2013, the United States began issuing green cards to same-sex couples. Martha’s early and ongoing twelve-year participation is cited as critical in making that change.
Democrats Abroad Experience
DA LEADERSHIP ROLES
All Politics is Local
Martha believes that volunteers are the heart of DA and the engine of our success.
During her tenure as DA Netherlands (DANL) Chair from 2011-2015 and Vice Chair from 2016-2017, DANL organized monthly social/GOTV events in Amsterdam and The Hague and two voting locations for the Democrats Abroad 2012 Global Primary. She served as an elected delegate to the 2012 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions.
DANL membership grew steadily and the country committee formally registered as a Foundation (stichting) under Dutch law. Succession planning to build future leadership included information sessions to share opportunities and encourage members to run for elected roles. Major annual events were the Independence Day Picnic and annual meeting. Voter assistance events were held weekly during election years at the American Book Center and John Adams Institute. Outside of election years, DANL built community through social/GOTV events and held membership meetings on immigration topics with the Amsterdam Consulate.
Martha engaged keynote speakers Professor Andy Tanenbaum of electoral-vote.com, US tax experts, and members of the DA Taxation Team, who spoke to the need to reform tax law for Americans living abroad. A successful fundraiser was held with Dan Choi, an Army infantry veteran who had served in combat in the Iraq War and become an LGBT rights activist, publicly challenging and contributing to ending America's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Martha worked closely with the US Consulate in Amsterdam to include the American LGBTQ+ community in the Netherlands at the consulate’s first-ever Pride celebration.