Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Human Rights Campaign Holds Annual Lobby Day

Members of HRC from Arizona with Rep. Ed Pastor

This past Thursday the Human Rights Campaign held its annual Lobby Day event.

Lobby day is a day where members of HRC come from all over the country to lobby their members of Congress on the LGBT issues that will be coming up.

This year HRC had their largest group ever with almost 300 people coming to lobby. I am from Arizona so it's a tough day for us. While we do have some friendly Representatives to work with, we are still a Republican state and it make for some tough discussions.

We first met with our Senators - Jon Kyl and John McCain. Now when I say we met with them what I mean is we met with some staffer from their office. McCain's staffer was newly off the campaign and didn't know how the Senator felt about any of our issues.

While that meeting was a waste of time we did meet with a knowledgeable staffer from Senator Kyl's office. We discussed our 6 issues - Hate Crime, fully inclusive ENDA, tax equity for domestic partner and health beneficiaries act, domestic partner benefits and obligations act, repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and Early Treatment for HIV act. While I don't think we earned any votes I think as tax cutting conservatives they will at least read the two bills that cut taxes.

The afternoon allowed us to meet with some friendly faces. One was Representative Raul Grijalva. He always has a 100% score on the HRC score card. He is also the Vice Chair of the LGBT Caucus. He is a great supporter of our community and it is always a pleasure to meet with him. And yes we actually do meet with him.

In fact, all of our Democrats meet face to face with us. We had some hard discussions with our Blue Dog Dems that sometimes have to worry about how their vote will play at election time. But Rep. Giffords and Rep. Mitchell are still very strong allies. Another 100% earner is Rep Pastor. Another great supporter of the community.

We did have some opportunity for education. While I won't talk about all the Republicans, I will talk about Rep. Flake. He voted for the sexual orientation only version of ENDA. While thanking him for that we began to speak of the fully inclusive bill that would be coming soon. He told us he was much more comfortable with it being just sexual orientation. We began to ask if he knew and transgender people. He said he did not. We shared stories about some of the people is Arizona and why this was important to have in the bill. We told him we would get him more educational information. He said that would be a good idea. This is why we have been discussing this issue for the last 3 years. To provide education and improve the comfort level for them to ask the questions and have the conversations that need to happen.

All in all Lobby Day was a huge success. Hearts and minds were changed in many states. I highly encourage everyone to attend a lobby day in your state or with HRC in Washington D.C.. It's a unique experience and one you will never forget. This was my third time and already I can't wait to come back and do it again.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you had a great day. Thanks for going and speaking out.