Post submitted by Karl Bach, Former HRC Senior Regional Field Organizer
Tomorrow the full Delaware Senate will decide whether or not to recognize marriage for same-sex couples. The vote will likely be decided by a few votes, and some legislators are waiting to hear from their constituents.
All weekend, equality supporters were out knocking on doors, making phone calls and encouraging supporters to contact their Senators.
Volunteers in Wilmington, Newark and Middletown scheduled huge door-to-door canvasses on Saturday and Sunday in an effort to ensure Senators had heard from the pro-equality voters that they represent. To make contacting lawmakers as easy as possible, we provided cellphones for voters to call their Senators right on the spot.
Canvassing has proven to be the most effective way to identify new supporters and to guarantee calls to Senate offices. Powered by coffee, donuts and perfect Spring weather all of our teams surpassed their goals and added to the thousands of voices calling for marriage equality.
In addition to phones and doors, our team at the Old Dover Days Festival set up a table and asked attendees to sign a poster thanking area legislators for supporting the marriage bill. After we worked to secure the votes of Representatives Andrea Bennett, Darryl Scott, and Senator Brian Bushweller we want to ensure they continued to feel the support of their constituents in Dover. It's often just as important to thank the legislators who stood with us as it is to urge lawmakers on the fence to vote with us.
William O'Regan, a Delaware resident and Equality Delaware staffer, said of the experience:“Old Dover Days was an amazing experience. It was great meeting people we've been calling throughout the last few months, and seeing how eager they were to sign thank you cards for legislators. Our volunteers and interns were engaged with everyone that passed by; handing out stickers, pins and asking people to sign the posters.”
While the morning started out slowly, by the end of the day, the posters were bursting with signatures, and it seemed as if everyone at Dover Days was wearing an Equality Delaware button.
It has been a long road to get to where we are today. So much has happened in Delaware since I was here to support Senator Chris Coons' campaign in 2010. HRC has had staff on the ground in Delaware since January working with Equality Delaware and the Delaware NAACP to grow the coalition around HB75, as well as faith outreach strategies across communities of race, denomination, and faith.
I've been working in the state for several months as the Deputy Field Director of Equality Delaware. Along the way I've met some incredible people who have bravely shared their stories. If we pass the marriage equality bill tomorrow, then Delawareans like Pat Rafter will no longer have to watch as her gay son is denied the freedom to marry the person that he loves.
If you live in Delaware and you've already sent a message to your State Senator, please encourage your friends and family members to send one, as well.
There has never been a more important time to share your story. Do your part by encouraging your Senator to vote "Yes" on HB 75.