As anyone who's been to Albany for the sake of a particular cause, Tuesday is lobbying day (for the regular folk). The LGBT community and its supporters took head and took action by going 2,000 people strong up there to advocate for equal rights and same-sex marriage. With important legislation in committees now deciding the fate of equal rights in New York, their presence was timely to say the least.
From The Times-Union:
This year the event sold out and calls were pouring in of people trying to get tickets. “It was bigger than a Madonna concert,” said ESPA Executive Director Alan Van Capelle in an interview before he took the stage.
Van Capelle noted that most of the buses that brought supporters up were paid for by labor unions. “Organized labor recognizes that you can’t support economic justice without social justice,” he said.
The convention center is filled with cheering supporters, sitting by Senate District, who will meet with individual legislators. It is a concertedly organized affair — Empire State Pride Agenda has arranged for trained “meeting facilitators” to sit in on every meeting between advocates and Senate members and staff. Not every meeting with the Assembly will have similar facilitators. The Assembly passed the gay marriage bill in 2007 and is expected to pass again this year.
Van Capelle said that they have targeted particular Senate districts — Republican and Democrat. They have been polling in the district, organizing residents to talk with particular Senators and advocate.
More and more New Yorkers, whether gay or straight want equal rights across the board. The enthusiasm for the bill cannot be denied and the Republican leadership in the Senate's decision to let Senators vote their conscience was an affirmation of that. Now let's see if all those ESPA supporters can change the minds of just a few Republicans to join the majority of Dems in passing same-sex marriage rights.