It’s an exciting time to be the ACLU of Michigan – new website, new blog, new president and a new outlook on civil liberties in Michigan.

Admittedly, it’s hard to have a new outlook on anything in this state other than the economic crisis that we’re facing, but lucky for us, guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms that this country was founded upon doesn’t cost a thing.

In fact, civil libertie could save the state a lot of money.

The first order of business – we must stop torture and close Guantanamo Bay. Lucky for us President Obama did the work for us in his first 48 hours on the job. But we can’t check it off our list just yet. We must continue our calls to restore America's moral leadership in the world.

As concerned Michiganders, we must reverse the decline of our public education system and stand up for the principle that every child has a right to a quality education. Believe it or not, this is not a right that you will find in either the United States or Michigan Constitution, but it should be.

Together we can end the practice of sending children to jail for life, with no chance of parole by accepting, as embodied in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, that children lack the same capacity as adults to use reasoned judgment or to understand the long-term consequences of their actions.

We must support an executive order prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by state contractors. The Governor can take steps to restore Michigan’s reputation, in the wake of the anti-gay marriage ballot initiative passed several years ago, as a tolerant, welcoming community.

Also, it is imperative that we improve our election laws to allow for no-excuse absentee voting. Our elections system should encourage, not discourage, Michiganders to exercise one of their most important responsibilities as citizens in this democracy.

By Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director