Equality Texas’ Largest Lobby Day Is Already Yielding Results
March 5, 2009
On March 2, 2009, over 400 Texans who support hate crime protections, anti-bullying legislation and the elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression had face-to-face conversations with state legislators and their staffs. Equality Texas Executive Director Paul Scott said:
We gathered at the Capitol because we value the independent spirit of all to make their way in the world - to be given every chance to take advantage of the opportunities afforded us without discrimination. We gathered in unprecedented numbers in response to a call that has gone out across Texas and the country - a call that more and more Texans are answering - the call for each and every one of us to be treated with dignity and respect.
By the end of the day on Monday, the bills in Equality Texas' legislative agenda had picked up two additional joint authors, four co-authors, and a hate crimes study bill was scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday. After addressing Equality Texas’ pre-lobby day reception, Meghan Stabler, a member of HRC's Business Council and Austin Steering Committee, struck an encouraging note on the impact local activists can have on elected leaders by getting involved:
Even in tough economic times, people took time off of work to travel to Austin and talk to their representatives. This shows a real commitment to equality. I was also impressed by the diversity I saw at Equality Texas’ lobby day. Not only were there a range of ages, but it was great to see LGBT and straight allies from all corners of the state at the capitol. I was pleased with HRC for engaging its members and supporters across the Lone Star state because it’s important for fair-minded Texans to get involved at the state level and keep elected officials accountable to the needs of the LGBT community. While we work for pro-LGBT legislation on the federal level, I urged everyone to use this time with state legislators to share personal stories. We all agree that Texas should provide safe learning environments for all students, but it was especially powerful to hear from people who were bullied and harassed in school. These concrete examples clearly had an impact on legislators, and this is the way we’ll see legislation like ‘Safe Schools for All Students’ (HB 1323) become law.
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