What Do We Do About HRC?

A simple question, with a complicated answer.

Hating HRC will not help pass any legislation.

Don’t make me stutter. Yes, hating HRC will not help pass legislation. Yes, they suck. Solmonese IS a lying shithead, never to be trusted again, even by his own mama, except perhaps to fuck up. But there is work to do.

State laws are pending in Massachusetts and Kentucky. These can be passed. In Kentucky, the Fairness Campaign has never been affiliated with HRC, and hopefully never will be. In Mass, MTPC recently got into bed with HRC and accepted $25K of their blood money. No matter, you can lobby your legislators without anyone’s help, if you so wish.

In the US Congress, things are at a standstill presently. The version of ENDA (the inadequate one), according to one of Ted Kennedy’s aides, is coming up soon. I doubt that. ENDA is far too controversial a bill and far too close to be raised in an election year. Furthermore, it won’t take much work to kill it. It takes 60 votes for a bill to clear a cloture vote. The hate crimes bill passed with barely 60 votes. Does anyone really believe that Norm Coleman, George Voinovich, Richard Lugar, John Warner, and Arlen Specter will really all still vote for this ENDA? It won’t take much lobbying to kill that ENDA – and if they did somehow get the votes for this dud ENDA, no way Dick Cheney lets George Bush put his X on it.

What it is time for, is for each person who reads this blog to make the effort to actually meet their Representative and Senators. I mean them, not an aide, but them. Face to face, shake hands, introduce yourself, give them your business card. Tell them what you believe in, what you want them to do in the next Congressional session. You can best do this right in your own state capitol or home town. If they are not approachable, or are absolutely dead-set negative on the issues you believe in, then work for their opposition and get to know them, that way.

If you can’t do the above, or you have the desire to do more, then you can learn to lobby. Keep in mind that you need to see “the member” – not the aides, because they will try to keep you away from the actual Congressman. You can lobby any Congressman you wish, but it helps if you have a connection to their district – use your mother-in-law’s address, tell them you do business in their district, use your imagination. You are probably most likely to speak to an actual Member of Congress at home, not in DC, although you can actually run into them there. Having pictures helps – they might be in the lunchroom or walking the halls, or you might be able to ambush them following a committee hearing. If you write them, always do it by FAX – snailmail letters are still being delayed for inspection, and email is nearly always read and discarded by aides.

Be sure you’re not lobbying for “air” – lobbying for a hypothetical bill or inclusion in same requires great experience, an appointment with the actual Member of Congress, and only with the Congressman who is likely to take the lead on such a bill. And it is useless to lobby for bills that have been thrown out in committee, or withdrawn by their sponsors – there’s a group I know of now that believes that HR2015 (the inclusive ENDA) can be resurrected – since Barney Frank withdrew it, it is dead for this Session of Congress, and by lobbying for it, they are showing their ignorance to every Congressional office they contact.

There’s your homework assignment for this year. Meet your Members of Congress, and/or work for better ones. Work in your state and locality. Learn how to do things right. And, if you have the chance, protest an HRC fundraiser. They need to be hurt. Always show more respect than I’d show a ringed seal!

PB

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