HRC Blog

Weekend of Action Leads into Key Vote in Rhode Island

Post submitted by HRC Boston Steering Committee volunteers Kristian Hoysradt and Candice Comeaux

This past weekend, members of the HRC Boston Steering Committee traveled from Boston to Providence to connect with voters at their homes as part of a Rhode Islanders United for Marriage Weekend of Action. In the wake of last week's terrible Marathon bombings and the police lock-down and manhunt throughout the Greater Boston area on Friday, it was somewhat of a relief to head south on I-95 and find ourselves in a room full of enthusiastic, passionate and determined people from around the region uniting for a common cause - marriage equality in Rhode Island.  We were pleased to join so many local volunteers as well as volunteers from Marriage Equality USA who drove from New York, and HRC’s Deputy Field Director Jeremy Pittman.

Introductions were made, friendships were formed, and following a rousing pep talk from Rhode Island State Representative Frank Ferri and our amazing coalition trainers, we were off to canvass key neighborhoods.  Our goal was to identify supporters of marriage equality and ask them to contact their state senators in order to have their voices heard, and the timing couldn’t have been better.  The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill in March, but we had just learned on Friday that the committee will vote on Tuesday, April 23rd.  The bill has already passed the State House of Representatives, so Senate action this week could send the bill to a supportive Governor Chafee for his signature.

After a little more than three hours, we had knocked on more than 100 doors and had more than fifteen conversations with voters.  We were gratified to find that most of the supporters with whom we spoke picked up their cell phones right there at the door and called their senator to urge them to support marriage equality.

When we returned to the campaign headquarters to turn in our results, we had the chance to share our experiences with the more than sixty volunteers who participated.  One of our the volunteers from HRC Boston said that following the experiences of the past week in Boston, it was a gift to be able to walk freely, stand up for something she is extremely passionate about, and share that passion with her fellow volunteers as well as the residents of East Providence.

During the volunteer debrief, two of the HRC Boston volunteers told the story of a voter who not only wrote a two-page letter to her senator explaining why the issue of marriage equality was important to her, but also wrote a letter to the volunteers canvassing the neighborhood thanking them for their time and commitment to the issue.

With an overflow crew of volunteers on both Saturday and Sunday, the Rhode Islanders United for Marriage team was able to collect more than 200 hand-written letters to undecided state senators and generate even more phone calls.  Like supporters of equality throughout New England, we’ll have our eyes on the Rhode Island Senate this Tuesday, April 23rd, for the critical Judiciary Committee vote.

 

Photos (c) Bizu Tesfaye/ HRC

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