An estimated 300 citizen lobbyists from across the country came to Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge lawmakers to push pro-LGBT legislation through Congress.
During the lobby day, which was led by the Human Rights Campaign, participants informed members of the Congress of the views on legislation such as repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“One of the worst things that you can hear when you are lobbying is that ‘no one in my district is gay and no one in my district wants me to vote for this.’ We know that’s not true of any district but we have to prove it,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “We come with the most powerful message of all: I am your constituent, and your constituents, like the rest of America, have had enough of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’”
Phil Attey, a gay D.C. activist who attended Thursday’s lobby day, emphasized the importance of lobbying lawmakers to advance pro-LGBT legislation in Congress.
“The one-on-one interaction is invaluable,” he said. “So we when we have these lobby days it’s important for our community to realize their role as a citizens whether they’re here in Washington or whether they’re back home.”
HRC held the lobby day in D.C. on Thursday concurrently with a “virtual lobby day” on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The organization encouraged participants to use e-mails, phone calls, and social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to speak out against the 1993 law.
Additional lobby days are set to take place on Capitol Hill this spring on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and other matters. A list of additional lobby days and the respective organization leading them follows:
National Center for Transgender Equality: March 14-16
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network: March 19
Servicemembers United/Human Rights Campaign: May 11