Editors' Note: Guest blogger George True Simpson is the eCommunications Associate at Equality California and blogs at The California Ripple Effect. Interests include any and all internet fads/trends/memes and harnessing the extraordinary potential of online organizing to advocate for justice and progressive change. In his truncated free time he enjoys the cinema, the city of Los Angeles and studying foreign languages.
I'm fresh back from Equality California's biggest Lobby Day ever! About 700 marriage supporters descended on the capitol to talk to their legislators about why they should vote for HR 5 and SR 7, dual resolutions in the Assembly and Senate calling for Prop 8 to be overturned.
The day was not without its share of surprises. Details and more pictures after the jump.
It was looking grim at first, with heavy rains blanketing the Capitol, and legislators in lock-down over the budget crisis. Even after months of negotiations and concessions from Democrats, there are still not enough Republican votes to overcome the strict 2/3 requirement for budgets.
With budget gridlock looming, we feared the worst. It was looking like all the grassroots activists who braved the rain to connect with their representatives wouldn't get the chance they deserved.
But at the last minute, the Assembly Judiciary Committee agreed to go forward with a hearing on HR 5, prior to floor session, and they passed it! The event coordinators changed the schedule around to give our grassroots lobbyists the opportunity to witness this important event first-hand. They were treated to moving testimony from Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center on Lesbian Rights and EQCA Executive Geoff Kors, who argued that rights should not be decided by "popularity contests."
In the afternoon, I was lucky enough have an encouraging visit with my own very cordial representative, Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Glendale), a consistent supporter of the freedom to marry who has pledged to vote for HR 5, and a signatory to the legislature's amicus brief before the Supreme Court. He and his staff warmly greeted me for our appointment, and I told him that I lived and worked in his district and that he was welcome at EQCA's Los Angeles office in Silver Lake any time. He just might take up the offer!
The purpose of my visit was to convince Assemblymember Krekorian to add weight to his vote for HR 5 by agreeing to co-author the resolution, as well. He mentioned that his phone had been ringing off the hook with opinions on both sides, and that he would consider my request. We concluded our visit by discussing ways that we can reach out together to people in our district about the freedom to marry--especially to those who may have voted "yes" on Proposition 8.
Despite failing to secure his co-authorship for HR 5 yet, I left the meeting very optimistic about the alliance we can build between the LGBT community and my legislator, and emboldened about the role that one lone citizen can play in the political process.
I was reminded of the day before, standing in the downpour on the west steps of the Capitol for the Rally to Overturn Prop 8, featuring performances and moving speeches from some of the movement's most prominent voices. The day started gloomy and wet, but at the crescendo of the event, when the crowd was at its largest, I looked out over the sea of red-white-and-blue signs reading '"I DO" Support the Freedom to Marry' and noticed that the clouds parted for a few hours, warming everyone with some impromptu sunshine.