Maggie, (my best friend for those of you who don't know me) and I got back home from Atlanta a little under an hour ago, and are quite exhausted. Activism takes a lot out of you!
We met the people from Georgia Equality this morning for a rally at the Presbyterian Church across the street from the Capitol building. As soon as Maggie and I walked in, Allen (Thornell, Executive director for Georgia Equality) saw us and said "These people are from Columbus!" and broke into a huge grin. We wrote letters to all three of the representatives in out district, the House Rules Committee Chairman Calvin Smyre (D) and the Speaker Of The House Terry Coleman (D). Just before we were leaving the rally to walk to the Legislative Offices Building, we were told that the Christian Coalition, or as I prefer to think of them, "The God Squad", were getting mobilized outside and were already harrassing people coming in. We were asked not to engage them in any way, not to make any sort of contact with them, and not to respond to them. that if one of us were being harrassed, to stand beside them in silent opposition of such behavior - but not to provoke it. We all pretty much ignored them, all of their taunting and hateful rhetoric, and made a beeline for the LOB.
Once there, we attended a second rally - the Faith Leaders Rally on the 5th floor of the LOB. It was great, because we got there just before the room was filled to capacity - and it was a fairly big room. There was a lot of press and media there, and many people left standing in the hallways were told they had to go back outside as loitering in the corridors is prohibited. Word got out that there were as many of us downstairs as there were inside, which was really great. We stayed for the entire thing, and afterwards Allen thanked us for coming and told us we were fabulous for making the trip. We left him and went lobbying all over the building. We dropped our handwritten letters urging a "No" vote on the SR 595 reconsideration this afternoon at the offices of Debbi Buckner (D), Carolyn Hughley (D), and Vance Smith (R), and then headed over to the Capitol Building.
Once inside the Capitol Building, we went to both Smyre's and Coleman's offices and dropped off those letters. We walked around a bit and decided we needed to head out for lunch before the House Rules Committee met at 1:00, as this was the time when SR 595 was to be up for reconsideration. We had lunch and then came back, and on return there were hundreds of picketers and protesters on the front steps of the Capitol Building, "defending traditional marriages" and making inappropriate and hateful condemnations on anyone that wasn't a heterosexual Christer. We ignored it and pressed on to the gallery above the floor. We got our seats and kept them for close to 45 minutes. Here's the beautiful thing - the rally for the God Squad was scheduled late, and at least 3/4 of the seats in the gallery wre occupied by Georgia Equality supporters. By the time the Christbots came in, they all looked like it was unbelievable that so many of us were in THEIR seats. Then again, the majority of them had pained expressions on their faces anyway. I'd say that we outnumbered them in the House Rules Committee meeting 10 to 1, easily. After much squawking on the floor, SR 595 finally came up for a reconsideration vote.
I'm sorry to say it, but the majority vote was "Yes" and it will be reintroduced in Rules Committee, possibly tomorrow. If it passes, it goes on the November ballot.
There is a website called SR595.org that I reccommend you all visit, and register on the discussion forum. Post messages of support, try and get people in your area mobilized and empowered, and check for news updates. This site also tells you how the representatives in your areas are voting on SR 595 and gives contact information for each of them. Also, remember that vote-smart.org has the contact information of everyone involved, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE find out who is representing you and step up! We spent the entire day today putting our money where our mouths are and going door to door in the legslation - I don't expect everyone in support of us to do the same but I do need you to call, email, fax, and write your representatives and urge them to vote "no" on SR 595. Check and see if they've voted "No" so far, and if they have call and thank them for their vote and their support. If they voted "Yes", urge them to reconsider and remind them that an amendment to the constitution for the sole purpose of discrimination is fundamentally wrong to you as a constituent.
On a semi-related note, please do not buy gift certificates from Old Navy, Blockbuster Video, and Olive Garden restaurants - and furthermore, please consider spending your money elsewhere instead of these businesses. I found out today that everytime you purchase gift certificates from these companies, they make a donation to the Christian Coalition. I am personally boycotting them all.
I hope all are well, and I hope that those of you who maintain your support for us will step up and put your money where your mouth is. Talk is cheap, and I've heard about as much talking as I can stand. It's time for action. It's time to earn your right to participate instead of taking for granted that you can.
After today, I feel myself truly and forever changed.