In years past, Equality Texas organized a Lobby Day when LGBT constituents would visit members of the State Legislature to press elected officials on issues that are important to the community. This year, Equality Texas will hold three advocacy days each with a specific theme.
In 2013, over 500 Texans participated in the Equality Texas Lobby Day, visiting the 181 members of the legislature throughout the day. “Every legislative office had been visited by the first round of office visits and by the fifth round, some of the offices were turning away people at the door,” said Equality Texas legislative specialist Daniel Williams.
This year’s change in format, three days versus one, is Equality Texas’ effort to create a more diverse presence at the State Capitol. Each advocacy day will focus on a different theme, namely Faith, Family and Freedom.
“Three dates means Texans have a chance to pick a date that works best for them. And by focusing on a specific theme, the overall impact of each event should be profound,” said executive director Chuck Smith. “The different themes simply give us different lenses to tell different stories,” he said.
Even the name change—from Lobby to Advocacy—is purposeful. Intending to make the events more accessible to everyone, Smith explained, “More than just lobbying—which can have a negative connotation—we are empowering Texans to be advocates for issues that matter to them and those they love, and in turn, asking for the advocacy of policymakers on behalf of gay and transgender Texans.”
On Tuesday, February 17, LGBT Texans of faith and their allies will participate in “Faith Advocacy Day,” focusing on sharing how their faith influences their support of the LGBT community. “Faith Advocacy Day” will be co-sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network.
“The Texas Freedom Network is delighted to partner with Equality Texas on this unique event. The passionate and broad support for LGBT equality among people of faith in Texas is a story that should be known more widely—and on February 17, faithful Texans will come to Austin and shout it proudly from the mountaintops,” said TFN’s faith organizer Darnell Fennell.
The Monday, March 23 event, “Family Advocacy Day,” celebrates LGBT families and is designed to focus on the way that anti-LGBT laws in Texas affect them.
“Freedom Advocacy Day” will be held Monday, April 13 and will provide an opportunity to share how anti-LGBT laws are an abridgment of the freedoms Texans hold dear.
All three events will begin with an early-morning training at the First United Methodist Church of Austin, near the State Capitol before continuing to the Capitol itself. Lunch is provided. A $5 registration fee is requested to help defer some of the expense of the events. “We certainly don’t want that registration fee to be an impediment to anyone participating,” says Smith. “Scholarships are available because anyone who wants to attend should be able to.”
More information, including registration information, is available at EqualityTexas.org.
In related news, Equality Texas began distributing a new publication, “An Ally’s Guide to Talking About Nondiscrimination Protections for LGBT People,” which is meant to provide conversational approaches to building and sustaining lasting support for nondiscrimination laws and address concerns that might be raised when discussing the need for such laws.
The publication was produced by the Movement Advancement Project and the Equality Federation Institute.
A PDF version of the publication is available at this link. Printed versions will be available through Equality Texas.