I have a migraine and my eyes are swollen from crying. My shoulders are tense from anticipation. My ass cheeks are tired of being sat upon. Five hours of sitting through a House of Education Committee meeting can do that to you.
Yeah, we’re still talking about House Bill 112. The vote happened today. Here’s how everything went down (my thoughts are sort of a mess right now, so excuse any tangets I may go on). This is literally a play by play so it’s long and winded but SO important. Read on, ladies. Read on:
So the Capitol was a flurry with people when I arrived. I linked up with a family (mom and two sons) in the elevator as we discovered we were going to the same committee room to be a part of the same meeting. I knew we had arrived on the correct floor when the elevator doors opened and I saw a sea of people in black…remember CCA and Spectrum asked us to all wear black to this meeting in solidarity for those who’ve dealt with bullying and lost/took their lives because of it?
We waited outside of the committee room for what felt like forever when we were finally informed that the meeting would be starting at 12:30 instead of 11:00. BREAKFAST BREAK!
So the meeting starts. Lots of talk about HB 311. HB 251. HB some-other-number-I-don’t-remember. None of these applied to me so impatiently I sat. The woman next to me (who, from what I can gather, was against HB 112. Bitch.) told me to stop shaking my legs because it was making the whole row of seats move, and I didn’t even realize I was shaking my legs. Nervous anticipation.
Finally Representative Austin Badon addressed the people of the committee room with HB 112…the bill that 99.5% of non-House members were in attendance for. Austin Badon is my new hero y’all. Basically what happened is this: the members of the House were down to pass the bill if a few key words were taken out. Those key words being “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, physical characteristic, political persuasion, mental disability or physical disability”…basically they wanted the bill to be amended so that the characteristics on which the bill is founded….THE REASON THE DAMN BILL EXISTS…be removed.
There is no doubt in my mind that the reasoning behind wanting this amended was because the original includes the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression”. Louisiana is a conservative state, if you haven’t noticed. And those 5 words were the reason that people were against this bill being passed (Sad. So very sad).
So the House members discussed for about an hour a few different amendments to those words and each time, Austin said No. Every. Single. Time. If this bill was going to pass, it was going to pass with each of the above characteristics included. He stood up for us y’all, all three hours that HB 112 was discussed.
So then the members of the community were allowed to speak, starting with those of us who were pro-bill. Remember the family I rode in the elevator with? The youngest son was one of the first to present why he thought HB 112 needed to pass, and he said something like this: My name is ***** and I’m 11 years old and in 5th grade and I want this bill to pass because I am bullied everyday because of my sexual orientation. My friends and I get picked on all the time, and we tried to start a gay organization at our school, but they wouldn’t let us. So, if you could let this bill pass…..”
And I can’t remember what he said after that because I WAS BAWLING CRYING. OMG sweet little 5th grade boy standing up for everyone’s rights!! Tear jerker to the max! That was the beginning of the waterworks for me…I swear I cried the remainder of the meeting. And I was not alone.
Others spoke, including an Episcopalian preacher woman who said “10 years ago I took my vows to respect the dignity of every human being, and to be an advocate for the dignity of every human being…” and that was really beautiful. And a lot of other pro-bill folks spoke and said some really powerful, emotional, truthful things and shared stories on being bullied for various reasons, and how it’s time to put all of that to an end.
THEN! Those who were against the bill spoke. And I had to leave during the first few because I was appalled at the manner in which these people were attacking the bill…more specifically, the people that the bill is trying to protect. Like we all expected, the only characteristics they attacked were sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. I tried not to pay enough attention to let it bring me down, so sorry I don’t have any ridiculous quotes from them. But people had to leave the room.
So in his closing statements, Rep Badon said he was disgusted by the amount of hatred he had just witnessed in the room from the people who spoke against the bill (Really. How can you be against a bill that protects children from being bullied? That is just pure evil ugly hatred) and again turned down all efforts for the wording of the bill to be amended.
And one by one, each member of the house stated whether they were for or against the bill.
And we won 8 to 3.
I shook Austin’s hand and said “think you so much, this means the world to me” , started sobbing uncontrollably while doing so, and he hugged me and said “everything’s going to be okay”. Really, can I at least blame my tears on my flow? Even though it’s nowhere near time?
THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO HAD A HAND IN THE EVENTS THAT WENT DOWN TODAY. I’M PROUD OF YOU, LOUISIANA!
Now, get to Cajun Cove at 10pm for the celebratory party bitchezzz!