Playing in the Dirt with People Wearing Suits.

I think this should be the official motto of Louisiana House Bill 112:

“We’re learning about this as we go”. 

We= the members of Spectrum, Capital City Alliance, Forum For Equality, Louisiana Trans Advocates, and the profuse amount of individuals who have been following this bill and doing whatever it takes to make sure it passes.
This= legislature.

You know how I told you only a few days ago that we needed to prepare for the next step in this bill’s journey soon? Well soon came around real quick…Today, to be more specific.  I received an email yesterday informing me that the Bill will be heard by the entire House on Thursday of this week…May 19, 2011 (look for more specific details towards the end of this post)! The email also called Wednesday (today) “our lobby day”.

For anyone unaware of what it really means to lobby: to seek to influence a politician or public official on an issue (Don’t feel ashamed, I had to google it). One way of doing this is by contacting said politicians or public officials via phone or email. And guess what? Their contact information can be found here. Another way of lobbying is to speak to Representatives directly, face to face, which I understand can be scary. Luckily, a few members of the LGBTQ organizations listed earlier showed up at the Capitol today to do just that. Kat filled me in on what went down today,  what to expect in tomorrow’s meeting, and what to look forward to in the future.

Representative John Schroder told her “Y’all pushed too hard (last week), it’ll never get off the floor now”. Those of you who were in attendance, please recall he said those exact same words at the beginning of the HoE committee meeting last week. And, well, he was wrong wasn’t he? Hopefully that’ll be the case this time around too.

At tomorrow’s meeting, a possible amendment to the bill will be suggested. Said amendment would not erase the enumerated characteristics that we fought so hard to keep in tact last week, but would add on something along the lines of  “this bill does not require diversity training or promotion of diversity issues or any personal characteristics listed in the bill”. In homophobic terms, that basically ensures that no kids are being “taught” to be “homosexual”…because that’s exactly what we’re trying to do, yeah? (No…and I hope you’re picking up on my sarcasm). Kat finds this amendment to be unfortunate, and said “the goal is to implement diversity training…because bullying can become illegal, but unless you’re teaching why bullying is bad, you’re not changing why it happens. If this amendment passes, we’ll still call it a victory (because the enumerated characteristics will remain) but it’s not ideal.”

Speaking of the enumeration…there is still a possibility that it gets stripped from the bill. If that turns out to be the case, and the bill passes to the Senate because of it, all is not lost. The bill must be adopted and re-written by someone in the Senate before it can be read on the Senate floor, meaning that the enumeration could potentially be re-added in that re-write.  However, if the characteristics are removed once the bill hits the Senate, it will be pulled from legislature and re-introduced next year, with lots of educating between now and then. Rumor has it that Louisiana Family Forum will continue to fight against the bill whether the characteristics are removed or not, just out of spite. Well, Fuck them. Oops, was that mean? Surely it wasn’t meaner than fighting against a bill that protects children though, so, whatever.

We need 53 Representatives to vote in favor of this bill for it to pass on to the Senate. Apparently, the Black Caucus is behind the Bill and there seems to be 27 of them! Yay!

The meeting will take place tomorrow (Thursday May 19, 2011) at 9AM in the House Chamber of the Louisiana State Capitol. Although there will not be an opportunity for non-legislative attendees to give testimony, you should still attend…It’s important that the Reps know that people are paying attention to what they do. Fill out a green card (just like last time) to show that you care, and that you support the Bill. And wear your Sunday best, because like Kat said earlier today “We’re playing in the dirt with people in suits.” Gosh, she’s clever!

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