Friday, January 27, 2006

Lobby Day

The anti-gay marriage amendment is making its way through the state government again. Two years ago it made it through the house and was killed in committee. Last year we managed to get it voted down on the senate floor. We really have a good chance of defeating it again. This is a conservative state, but it is largely a libertarian conservativeness. There are quite a few conservative republicans who are arguing that we should not be fighting this battle in the state constitution.

Two years ago I lobbied the senators with Hubby, Andrew and David. We cornered several of them. The senator from my home town was very junior and very nervous about taking a stand on the issue. I told him about the violence that GLBT kids face and my concern that if they adults fight about this it will be echoed in the school yards. When we asked him to tell the committee chair that he supported her (unannouced) decision to kill it in committee he readily agreed to do so.

We talked to one senator who expressed sympathy and then said, "I just don't understand why these people have to flaunt their sexuality." She said this while waving around her left hand on which was the biggest, gaudiest wedding/engagement/anniversary ring set I have ever seen. I took a very deep breath and steered the conversation to the ways the amendment might immediately nullify old "common law" marriages endangering (heterosexual) couples' security.

I talked to an experienced senator who was very polite and ready to listen and then do what he was going to do. I asked him if he agreed that this was an effort of the religious right to weaken the moderate and libertarian Republicans in the government. He engaged for the first time and said that that was something worth thinking about.

I went home and took a bath. I had spent the afternoon trying to find people's vulnerabilities. I had appealed to emotions, to power, to whatever I could to persuade the people I had to persuade.

I did everything that I tell my students not to do. I made the sort of "arguments" that I tell my students not to be persuaded by. I never once gave my clear rational argument for the equality of citizens under the law. I never gave it because my gut told me that the people I was talking to would not listen.

The experienced person that I was paired with told the organizers at the de-briefing that I was great -- very effective.

One of the reasons I know the organizers were glad we were there was that we were the only heterosexual family. We look so "normal." I wore a dress and a cross.

Last year I just sent a letter to eveyone. It was a good letter. Someone sent it to PFLAG national and they sent it out in their weekly newsletter. It was full of motherly concern about my boys mingled with patriotic language, "Here in the home of the brave and the land of the free, where we value equality above all else, my sons are not equal."

And now here it comes again. Wednesday is lobby day. I should ask Hubby if he can take a half day off and go with me. We should go to the capital building and show ourselves, "See: nice heterosexual people are opposed to this amendment too."

I want not to do it. I want just to write a good letter. I will write about it in the PFLAG newsletter (which I have to get out soon). I make excuses for myself: I have a full-time job ( I am on sabbatical at the moment, but still); I have kids at home; I volunteered to take over the presidency of PFLAG when S. needed a break. I look around at the other activists -- none of them has so many commitments.

So why don't I let myself off the hook?

Because Evan looked at me, with expectation, not judgment, in his eyes and said, "What are you doing this year to stop it?"

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