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Marriage Equality Lobbying Day in Albany, NY

Marriage equality

Update: Michael Lavers has a report on today’s events.

Anonygrl was in my home state of NYS today at the lobbying day, and kindly agreed to share her piece from Feed Equality here at P8TT. It’s first-hand how a lobby day runs, with some good stories (and encouraging ones at that!) -Adam

By anonygrl

Well! Let me tell you!

It was a really good day. Today was a day for lobbying for Marriage Equality in New York State, and I took the day off from work to attend. I would guess there were about 350 people there, bussed in from all over the state. Some had been on the road since 3:30am, which shows REAL dedication!

When I came in, I was immediately flagged by Ronnie, a friend from who runs Freedom Fighters for Equality on FaceBook, and his mom, both of whom had snuck in from New Jersey, and we exchanged hugs all around, but I had to go find my district group, as they had us all divided up into groups that would each go and speak to our own Senators.

There were four of us from Albany, from my district, going to speak to Senator Neil Breslin, who is a strong supporter of marriage equality. We were eventually joined by two more. Other groups had more or less people in them, but the goal was to have each of us speak to the senator from our own district, which does make sense. Some few senators had no one from their district in attendance, but a little shuffling made sure they were visited too.

Marriage Equality NY (MENY), the sponsor of the event, had prepared packets for each of us with a bio of our senator, letters for the senators, assemblymen and governor, and other info. There were several speakers who came in to talk to us about how to proceed, and then Ron Zacchi, the head of MENY said “lets do a little ‘how to talk to your senator’ roleplay” and asked for volunteers.

I am sure you all know that I am shy and retiring…

Well, no. So I volunteered, and we played a little Q & A with him. After that, and a little more info, and some lunch, we headed up to speak to our senators.

During our lunch discussion, our group basically realized that we had a pretty easy gig. Neil Breslin is a strong supporter, and three members of the group actually knew him personally through other events and boards and things, so we knew it wouldn’t be an adversarial meeting. So we had decided our approach was going to be “Thanks for all your support so far, and what can WE do to help YOU be a stronger advocate and help get the six votes we need to pass this thing?”

The Senator (who is the Minority Leader) was in another meeting, but we got to speak with his Chief of Staff who was a lovely woman and very receptive to us. She paid attention to our stories, and asked good questions, and assured us that the senator was, in fact, behind us.

We asked her what was the best way for us to help convince other senators. She said that emails and faxes often get piled up and ignored, but that the way to get attention was to write a handwritten letter and put it in the mailbox. She said that real letters got MUCH more weight than any electronic ones (which makes sense, if you take the time to actually write, you must actually care… an email is too easy to dash off, and so often they get bulk emails which hardly count as any effort at all). She also said that the way to get others on board was to have constituents hound them. Don’t just do one lobbying day and forget it, make appointments to see them when they are in their home districts, come up to Albany again and again to see them, hound them and keep hounding them.

We each shared stories of why equality was important to us, and I mentioned, at one point the recent poll where 54% of New Yorkers supported marriage equality but that without the state supporting our rights, we were still second class citizens. That statistic seemed to surprise her, she thought it was higher, but we explained that only 38% opposed, and the rest were on the fence, and she said that made sense. There was one college student in our group, and she talked about her religious Jewish background and how girls married a year or two out of high school, that was just expected, and how difficult it was for her because she could not marry, which brought tears to my eyes. Another man spoke about living though the 80’s and losing half the friends in his address book to AIDS, yet the partners who stood by them were just “lovers” or “roommates” and of the need for the respect that the word marriage affords. There was a retired teacher who talked about bullying, and how he, himself, was not out to his school board for his entire career because he feared repercussions, and that the state saying “you are equal” would go far towards fixing that problem for others. Another teacher spoke about the fact that she was out, and how accepting her students were, but how much further we have to go. One man said his young niece asked if he and his partner of many years were married, because, of course, mommy and daddy were married, and adults, in her eyes, who were together must be married, and how hard it was to explain to her that they were not, because they could not.

All in all, it felt like a very good meeting. The chief of staff listened to us, she gave us some good advice, I think it went quite well. We were there for about forty five minutes, which was quite a bit longer than we had expected, and we were glad she took the time to hear us out. We left a packet of information for her to give to the senator, along with an “I Support Marriage Equality” button and a pen (because swag is fun!), thanked her and the rest of the staff for their time and left.

A few of us then darted off to stop in our Assemblyman’s office, even though he was not on the agenda for the day. We spoke to his staff somewhat casually, they were very nice and again, known to a couple of us (not me), Assemblyman McEneny wasn’t there, but he, too, is a strong supporter, so we again gave our appreciation to be passed on and asked how we can help. His staff said to get couples with kids who have been affected by NOT being able to marry to go to their senators district offices and say “THIS is my problem. I can’t get health care for our kids, my landlord won’t let us both sign the lease, we need to secure our social security benefits, this is why marriage equality matters!!!”… or whatever their personal issue are, and ask the senator to HELP SOLVE THEM. Do this a LOT, said he. KEEP doing it. Real constituents with real problems caused by a lack of marriage equality actually IN the senator’s office is the way to go.

He also said we needed to work on the senator whose name came first alphabetically. As silly as it sounds, because he voted NO last time, the senate panicked and some voted no who might not have. A solid YES as the first vote will help keep the chickens in line. It was an interesting insight into politics, I must admit!

We then returned to the meeting room for a little “what you can do next” pep talk. Get your friends and neighbors involved. Every voice that the legislators hear counts a lot, because for every person who makes the effort to come to the capitol and speak to them, they assume a thousand feel the same way but can’t make the trip. Every person who comes to the district office may count as a hundred constituents for them. The important thing is to be heard. To keep speaking up, to be in front of them, shaking their hand and saying “Here is what is important to me!” because THAT is what they listen and respond to.
I got to spend a bit of time chatting with Ronnie and his lovely mom. Ronnie made a point of introducing me to Miss New York, who he had met earlier, who was in the Miss America Pageant with the platform of marriage equality, the first contestant ever to do so. He had been talking to her about his fashion designing, and mentioned Feed Equality to her as well. You would all love Ronnie… he is just as passionate, but somehow manages to be soft spoken in person. It was great to spend time with them, and I may get to do so again as they have friends in Albany they visit occasionally.

I passed out Feed Equality cards to several people, including the Senator’s Chief of Staff, the head of MENY, Miss New York, and a very nice transgendered woman with who heads her own organization, and with whom I had a really interesting and informative chat.

Then I walked all the way home, FIVE WHOLE BLOCKS… in the really, really cold air while everyone else hopped on warm busses for their five hour commutes. OK, that IS a silly thing to complain about, when all of those marvelous folks had made the effort to come from so far away, but it really was cold! About 16 degrees out! But I think we all left with warm hearts, having found new supports, new ways to help, feeling like we did some good, making great connections for continuing the fight, and empowered by being part of democracy in action. I look forward to following up this visit with others, perhaps to other senators, to let them know that equality matters!

What I came away with was how easy this is. Going in and talking to your senator is a piece of cake. They WANT to hear what you have to say. They want to know what their constituents think. So don’t be afraid, call them up, make an appointment and go in and say “Marriage equality matters to me. Here is why…”, then tell your story. You will be able to find your own district senator in their district offices, and it may not be all that far to travel to go see them. If you can get to your state capitol, DO IT! Find a time when senate is in session and make an appointment. Even if you only get to speak to a staffer, that is fine, the senators depend on their staff to keep an eye on the pulse of their districts, and to know what people are interested in. If you can get a group together, bring them all. If you have a family and have issues that are solvable with equality, go tell your story! Bring the kids and say “Senator, we need your help!” If you can, at all, make the effort to do a face to face meeting with your state legislators. It is easy to do, and has enormous effect.


  • 1. Peterplumber  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:10 pm


  • 2. Peterplumber  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    HAND written letters? Really??? UGGG, I haven't hand written anything in so long, I am not sure I remember how!

  • 3. AnonyGrl  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm


  • 4. JonT  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Thanks Anonygrl!

  • 5. Kathleen  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Great piece! Thanks.

  • 6. Rhie  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Just tickin the box

  • 7. Sagesse  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Wishing all the luck in New York. Marriage equality has a real shot there.

  • 8. Richard A. Jernigan  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    WTG, AnonyGrl!!!!!! WOOT! WOOT! WOOT

  • 9. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  February 8, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Lovely report : D Glad you got to meet Ronnie and Mom! Thank you for dedicating time and talent…and freezing walk to boot!

    p.s. What a curious/fun tidbit:
    He also said we needed to work on the senator whose name came first alphabetically

  • 10. Papa Foma  |  February 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    THANK YOU – Anonygirl. Due to time zone difference, the Russian crew is asleep, but I know hey will appreciate your great report tomorrow. — PapaFoma

  • 11. Mark M (Seattle)  |  February 8, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    What a great report and a wonderful sounding day….and successful too!
    Glad you got to meet Ronnie and his mom, I'm jealous.

  • 12. Bob  |  February 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I loved this report, Anonygrl, thanks for sharing, thanks for taking action,, thanks for speaking to your Senator, and especially for your encouragement to others to do the same,, just thanks all round,,,, welll done, well said,,, "go tell your story, bring the kids, and say Senator we need your help" woot woot,,,
    and loved that you got to meet Ronnie and his mom,,, wow!!!

    from the bottom of my heart,,,, thanks cheers Bob

  • 13. Up&Adam  |  February 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    What a wonderful report. You filled me with a renewed energy. Thank you so much.

  • 14. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Has anyone read the 32 page article on writer/director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash, etc.) and his high profile break with $cientology in this week's New Yorker? Fascinating stuff….

    AND it all started because he was disgusted that a staff member from the San Diego church had signed a petition supporting the Yes On 8 campaign, and that officials at the same church endorsed it! (This break with the church isn't a new story…I just skim headlines sometimes and I didn't really follow it, earlier. But this is the first indepth piece I've read on it.)

    Haggis' resignation eventually came when the church wouldn't honor his demand that they make a public statement that $cientology opposes a ban on gay marriage. "Our public association with that hate-filled legislation shames us," Haggis (who was very devout) wrote. "Silence is consent…and I refuse to consent." (In church literature, homosexuality is branded an "emotional state" classified as "1.1" or, as L. Ron Hubbard wrote, "Covertly Hostile..the most dangerous and wicked level".

    The article goes into a lot of unsavory details about the church, including a current FBI investigation…but it made me think, Wow. I wonder how many other churches are going to see DRAMATIC resistance from their members as warm, enlightened people who KNOW and LOVE lesbians and gays, etc., refuse to be a part of, or contribute finances to, the support of hateful practices.

    It's kind of a breathtaking thought!

  • 15. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Ooops…I think I embold-bombed that a bit!

    Anyway….article is at

    Maybe you have to be a subscriber to access the whole thing? I'm not sure. It's called Paul Haggis vs. The Church of Scientology.

  • 16. Peterplumber  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Well, I didn;t hear THAT, but I did hear that the is
    FBI probing allegations of human trafficking and enslavement in scientology.

  • 17. Kathleen  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I did read that. It was interesting.

    I personally know so many people who have broken with their churches over this issue. And it was mostly brought to a head around the time of the campaign for Prop 8. I think it was easy for some people to ignore the undercurrent of anti-equality messaging in their churches until the debate over Prop 8 really brought the discussions front and center. For a lot of people it was the last straw.

  • 18. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    YES! This is a great article!

    Thanks for devoting your day to this, anonygrl. I hope you got a nice hot bath to that your fingers, toes and ears out when you got home. (I lived in Manhattan for years…Brrrrrrrr!)

    Very informative and heartening. Thanks!!

  • 19. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Yes….and the key to me seems to be that as time has passed and more and more LGBTs are out and known to their friends, family, coworker and neighbors, the veil of imagined threat has really (to ordinary, sane-minded people)lifted.

    These fellow human beings don't want to see their neighbors and loved ones denied basic human rights, or access to Heaven, or whatever, no matter how they are classified by a church or any other organization…they just want their fellow (wo)man to be treated decently.

    It really makes me kind of teary as I think back on the stories about the Stonewall Riots, and all the LGBT activists who came before and after that, pushing the issues into visibility.

    We are all really benefiting from that now, as new generations come of age who have all kinds of people in their lives.

  • 20. PoxyHowzes  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for doing this AnonyGrl, and thanks for telling us about it.

    I went to college in Troy, and we used to have to walk that far in February for 8:00 am classes. At least we were awake by the time we got there!

    Glad you have a senator who supports equality. Here in MD, mine just can't bring himself to vote for it even though he puts a (D) after his name. If he doesn't vote the right (rite?) way, I'm gonna work to put (Ret) after it!

  • 21. Kathleen  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    As an aside, the article mentioned the magazine Ramparts. I hadn't thought of that magazine in years; a real flashback to my youth. It's where I was first exposed to the writings of Noam Chomsky and read Che Guevara’s diaries. Ah, the '60s. :)

  • 22. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Yes…that's in the article, too. That aspect is about young people (sometimes the children of members) who sign over 1 million (?) years of servitude to the church through the Sea Org division of the church…and (allegedly) toil away there (and at various "Rehabilitation Project Force locations") for practically NOTHING for years. Then when they run off, they're (allegedly) hunted down and pressured to return…as many cults do with defectors.

    Members also (allegedly) get sent to these camps when they've stepped out of line…by (allegedly) pissing off Tom Cruise, for example. (Really!) (But, ALLEGEDLY!)

    Now I'm afraid their swarm of lawyers are going to descend on me just for discussing the article.

  • 23. Carpool Cookie  |  February 8, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Did you know LGBTs in the 60's? What was it like?

  • 24. Kathleen  |  February 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    I've known openly gay & lesbian people my whole life – members of my family and a woman my mom worked with (Mom was a machinist). And yes, I knew a lot of glb people in the '60s and some people I think were transgender, though I had less of an understanding of what it meant to be transgender when I was younger.

    On the one hand, there was still a lot of fear in the gay community; the mainstream culture could be a dangerous place for glbt people, who were often at risk of arrest and physical violence. I knew people who were beaten, but afraid to go the police about it.

    On the other hand, the '60s was a time of a lot of sexual freedom — post birth control pill, and the only 'uncurable' std we had to worry about was herpes. That freedom included a certain liberation from strict gender roles and a lot of openness in sexual experimentation, which made it easier for glbt people to be open in the counter-culture of the times. But even within the counter-culture, glbt people were kind of outsiders among outsiders.

    At least, that's how I experienced it.

  • 25. JT1962  |  February 8, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Y'know, last year I went to DC for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network's 4th Advocacy Day. It's a 2 day event that PanCAN does with the first day being training and the second day is meeting with your Congressional members in both houses. It really was an eye-opener for me. I got to meet with a Senator's aide and a House Rep's aide and then with one Senator. The tips you wrote about are ones we use each year. It's not enough to just go visit that one day. You have to follow up with a phone call or a letter a week or so later. It reminds them that you really are watching their actions on that topic.

    Congratulations for going and doing more than just writing on a blog. It's easy to do something anonymously online or a letter to an editor. Going to them in person makes it so much more real. I salute you.

  • 26. Franck  |  February 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Thank you all for your efforts and for a nicely written piece. I love me some encouraging reading :)

    For the temperatures, I'd offer you to come here and enjoy the daily 90s and 100s, but I'm afraid politics and general insecurity kinda make it hard to enjoy.

    – Franck P. Rabeson
    Days spent apart from my fiancé because of DOMA: 1328 days, as of today.

  • 27. Sagesse  |  February 8, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Navy sets deadline for completing post-'don't ask, don't tell' training

  • 28. Sagesse  |  February 8, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    The demographics of marriage equality

    More listed in state as same-sex couples

  • 29. Phillip R  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

    I feel you there. Technology has spoiled me. A month or 2 ago, I got a wild hair and decided I'd actually write a physical letter to a friend. I got about halfway through it before my hand was cramping up!

  • 30. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Perhaps the important part is the paper copy in an envelope snail mailed to the office. I think I can type a letter on the computer and print it. I did that one….

  • 31. JPM  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Wonderful report. Thanks so much for writing it up.

  • 32. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Yes, typed will work… but paper in an envelope with a stamp is the key. :)

  • 33. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Here's a little funny thing… if you click the link at the very top to read Michael Laver's story, and look at the picture, you can see me. I am at the end of the table in the middle of the picture, in the red shirt with the white scarf.


  • 34. Ann S.  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:12 am


  • 35. Carpool Cookie  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Thanks! Very interesting.

    My mom was a 1970's California divorcee (kind of like in The Sandpiper) and there were always actors and poets around, some of whom were gay. We never spoke of the "morality" of any of it. I did not know any lesbians, or lesbian couples…but maybe that was TOO close an issue as my mom had had experiences with women falling in love with her and she was uncomfortable, not being able to return their affection. But I do remember visiting a lesbian friend of hers once.

    But it was something you tread lightly around outside the home. You spoke up in defense of gays and lesbians (did not know any transgendered in our relatively small town, and bisexuals were just sort of "vivid" people who could have been anyone) if a slur was made, but it wasn't something you brought up yourself.

  • 36. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:34 am

    My grandmother had a sister who never married her entire life. In fact, she lived with my grandparents her entire life.
    After I was grown and Aunt Kate was dead & gone, I often wondered if she was a lesbien, and that's why she chose to life the life she did.

  • 37. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Fantastic! Love red – my absolute fav color. Of course, that might be a trivia question on Feed Equalities Virtual Valentine Rendezvous event on Sunday – : ) Actually, it would be Rhie who would have to make that a trivia question. And now that I have ruined it…she probably won't use it.

    All are welcome on Sunday, it's a virtual online event run be Feed Equality, from 3pm – 7pm PST (Noon – 4pm california time). You can view and RSVE here…!/event.php?eid=19935740

  • 38. Felyx  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Having read your article I wish I had written one of my own from the Day Of Action NC Equality effort. Of course you are lobbying for marriage… I see that as really paramount. (Even if not everyone thinks it is the highest priority, I still believe that it will signal official acceptance of LGBT and allow us to take our place as equals in other matters not related to marriage. Sometimes I get the feeling that NOM isn't against marriage equality so much as they fear losing their favored status in the pantheon of sexuality.)

    As PF said, thank you for sharing!
    Felyx & Kevyn

  • 39. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:25 am

    What is the time? (PST = California time)

  • 40. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:27 am

    3-7 EST, noon-4 PST.


  • 41. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Noon to 4pm

  • 42. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:28 am

    1 – 5pm MST for Arizonans

  • 43. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:29 am

    whew! my handwriting is not so legible…

  • 44. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:29 am

    Also, it's Sunday Feb. 13 – better day than Monday

  • 45. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:33 am

    Apparently Maggie is doing our work for us:

  • 46. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:37 am

    NOM board members might be a bit miffed by that – but great news.

  • 47. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:38 am

    This article says he's merely "considering" voting in favor… still, the oposition seems to be doing a good job for us:

  • 48. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:45 am

    BWAAAAAA HA HA HA!!!!!! Hoisted by her own petard! Beautiful!

    O Schadenfreude, O Schadenfreude….

    Sorry, Maggie:

  • 49. Felyx&Kevyn  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:02 am

    "But after listening to testimony from Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization For Marriage (NOM), he’s said that her “demonization” of gay families has convinced him that he should side with marriage equality."

    Demonization eh… Well it takes one… !

  • 50. Bob  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:13 am

    "the demonization of gay families really bother me Brochin said, are these families going to continure to be treated like second class citiszens"???

    He got it, hope that quote gets tons of attention in the media,, it's the utlitmate question , every elected official needs to grapple with that question on a personal level…

    The public needs to hold them accountable on that issue,,, and they need to act on it….

    Great to see them really GET what Maggie is talking about, and what the issue really is??? woot woot

  • 51. Ronnie  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Hey Trackers…..Thank you for the shout out Anonygrl….

    Although I am not an admin for FF4E (they had asked me a while back, if I would like too..I'm still thinking about it) , I am a regular contributor & I am involved behind the scenes in constant contact w/the admins. FF4E has become an awesome compendium for the Equality Civil Rights movement. There are members from HRC, GetEQUAL, Queer Rising, Many people who are regulars here on Tracker & Courage Campaign, there are members from all the local state Equality organizations, Freedom to Marry, It Gets Better, The Trevor Project, NO H8, Give a Damn, & so much more. There are people from all walks of life; LGBT & Straight Allies of all faiths, creeds, genders, nationalities, & races & pretty much all ages (mostly adults over 20, but there a few teens who comment sometimes). There are quite a few members from the UK. There are articles & what not posted from Joe.My.God, Pam's House, the Advocate, Instinct, OUT, Towleroad, Good As You, NOMexposed & from Tracker as well as other news sources… I said, a strong compendium of everything Equality, but they are not just about LGBT rights, they are about Environmental awareness, supporting the 3A's (Arts, Academics, Athletics) & they do a good job of keeping their members aware of charities & events world wide they may want to get involved in….Ray, Layla, Dan, Carrie & the other admins do an awesome job of running the page & I would be honored to be one of the admins…but right now I don't have the patience for it….I am content with contributing what I can to the page….The admins are amazing people…..

    Now on to Marriage Equality Day with Marriage Equality New York:

    I don't live in New York yet, but because I do plan to move there (going to look at some apartments in Brooklyn this week), what is happening in NY will apply to me & my mother as well….They assigned My mother & I to Senator Carl Krugar's district (Richard, I will email you later when I get the chance too, about something that you a BZ may be able to help with)….but since we were paired with only one guy named Ted, who is familiar with the district, & we only had 3 people we joined with another group….We met with a member of his staff…the meeting was informative but we didn't really get a full sentence in…but my mom was all like "I support my gay son & he plans to move to New York"…she was great….Claire Buffie was amazing..stayed calm while trying to talk over his talking over us so that she could talk about how she is a member of PFLAG & that she supports her sister's right to get married to the woman she loves & talked about how her brother is getting married & they both deserve the same recognition & protections …….awesome, grounded, down to Earth woman….I was honored to be a part of her group yesterday & that I got the chance to meet her…..So, he & the senator support Equality but they are bound by a large number of their constituents (whatever)…but said there is a possibility that he could be the 32nd vote (I'll believe it when I see it)…there was a lot of brush off, circular rambling, & it was just mediocre.

    Next we met with staff for Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, where we joined up with another group….They were very agreeable & understanding, took notes on our personal stores from both LGBT & Straight Allies….including a gay couple who are in an bi-national couple….Strong arguments from our side…So, they said he is still on the fence (sighs)….

    Yesterday was an awesome networking day…after a waking up at 3am to get on a bus to NYC to get on another bus for a 3 & 1/2 hour bus ride to Albany…..I finally got to meet Anonygrl in person..You are as well spoken in public as you are on here…Sorry we didn't get to spend more time….My aunt lives in Albany with her girlfriend…so we will try to schedule a trip up there to hang out……I got to meet Kitty Lambert & talk with her about FF4E & how much I loved her video when she & her wife went to get a marriage license & was told no so she pulled a guy out of the crowd & was easily given the license (Marriage is apparently btw. 2 complete strangers who are male & female & met no longer then 5seconds ago right NOM?….ROFL)……Lastly Like Anonygrl said…I got to meet Claire Buffie, Miss New York 2010 & who also won America's choice to be in the top 15finalists & made it to the top 12 for Miss America 2011….She is amazing, like I said, so down to Earth & grounded…& very easy to talk too….a strong advocate & Straight Ally for Equality….there are not enough words , in my opinion, to express our thanks to you Claire for you support…I am sure you make your sister (& your whole family) proud of your support & love….I got to speak with her about Feed Equality & her anti-bullying work with schools in New York & I talked to her about the collection I am working on inspired by the struggle for Civil/Women's/Human/LGBT Rights for my debut collection….& finally worked out the nervousness & being star struct to ask her if she would model for me when the collection is ready to be debuted in what I would like to be an Equality event with guest speakers, maybe an auction to raise money for the Trevor Project, Feed Equality, It Gets Better, homeless LGBT Youth, &/or HIV/AIDS research…..she said she would be into it…& gave me her card & said that I should keep in touch with her & her business manager….It was so great to meet her & get to know her a little more then what I already knew from her Miss America campaign… so I am super stoked about that……..I am so happy with how yesterday went…from the lobbying to the networking to meeting pro-Equality Senators to meeting Anonygrl to seeing my mom express her feelings on Equality….it was a very good day.

    Then it was back on that 3 & 1/2 hour buss ride where I fell asleep & spilled coffee all over myself then another 2 hour bus ride home (traffic sucks) tried to read though nearly 200 emails I had & keep what I plan to reply to or comment on…watched some TV on DVR then fell asleep at 2am…&&&&&&& scene…..<3…Ronnie

  • 52. Carpool Cookie  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:41 am

    OMG…speaking of relatives, here's an interesting story!

    My very Catholic (Mass every morning) grandmother developed Alzheimers, which can lower inhibitions and make the distant past very clear. My mother was chatting with her once near the end, and my grandmother said something like, "I've never thought homosexuality was wrong. The summer Edith," (or whoever), "spent together as camp counselors was very happy…and I felt fine."

    I wasn't there, but the statement was somehow more revealing than that, in my mother knew exactly what she was saying. ("I almost spilled my cocoa," she told me later.)

    This woman Edith (or whoever she was) had been close friends with my grandmother in college and her youth, then drifted away. There's a family picture I have of a young woman by a lake in a 1920's swimsuit, and the pictures been bent a lot….then smoothed out. I imagine that was her.

    Now it can be told: Granny's Lesbian Affair!

    PS: My grandmother never liked sex with my grandfather.

  • 53. Ronnie  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Joan Rivers supports Equality for New York….YAY STRAIGHT ALLIES RULE!!!!!!…..<3…Ronnie

  • 54. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:58 am

    Wonderful story! It makes me sad to think of all the people who've denied themselves the opportunity for a fulfilling relationship because of the homophobia in our society. Of course all I can do with that sadness is work my hardest to make it better now and in the future. xoxo

  • 55. Ann S.  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:05 am

    My uncle, many many years ago, married a woman who, it turned out, was lesbian. The marriage was over within a few months, and as far as I know none of us, including my uncle, ever saw her again.

    My uncle remained unmarried for decades, but now has a relationship of several decades (it's always difficult to know how to refer to her — "girlfriend" seems a bit ridiculous when he's in his late 80s).

    I think both my uncle and his ex-wife were probably emotionally damaged by their short-lived marriage (I certainly think he was). If only she had been free to admit she was lesbian before they married, maybe they both would have had happier lives.

  • 56. Carpool Cookie  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Okay…I called my mom and dug deeper.

    They were not camp counselors together, they were fellow teachers at a high school in Old Line, CT. and all the teachers lived in the same boarding house. AND the woman (though my mom doesn't remember her first name) (but does recall she was a gym teacher) was the actor TONY PERKINS' aunt. (Ironic about the NAME, there.)


  • 57. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:25 am


  • 58. Carpool Cookie  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:26 am

    For those interested, here is breakdown of New Yorker article from a Hollywood site. And I do think that knowing about this church and its activities is germane, as they DID endore Prop H8.


    [b]What You Need to Know About The New Yorker’s Paul Haggis–Scientology Article[/b]

    The New Yorker has finally published Lawrence Wright's controversial, nearly 25,000-word exposé on Scientology through the eyes of its high-profile Hollywood defector Paul Haggis, and it is a doozy. Haggis provides more insight into why he became disillusioned with the church — the father of two lesbian daughters, he was livid when Scientology didn't properly condemn Proposition 8 — and unloads all of his own personal failings before the notoriously vindictive organization can beat him to the punch. It's a powerhouse piece, and while there's plenty discussed about Scientology that will seem familiar to anyone who's Googled the religion before (Xenu, Sea Org abuses, etc.), there's a minor bombshell that the FBI is investigating Scientology for human-trafficking abuses, and several more unusual anecdotes and revelations where that came from. Here are eight of the most striking, including the scariest game of musical chairs ever.

    • Those special schools that use Scientology tech (including a Calabasus campus built by Will and Jada Pinkett Smith) may not work as well as they advertise, according to Haggis's daughter Lauren. "I was illiterate until I was eleven," she told Wright, and the article notes that many of the most high-profile Scientologists were school dropouts, including Haggis himself.

    • After Marlon Brando came to a dinner party complaining about a cut on his leg, he was healed by an eager John Travolta, claims Josh Brolin. "I watched this process going on — it was very physical," said Brolin, who says that Travolta placed his palm over Brando's leg. "I was thinking, This is really fucking bizarre! Then, after ten minutes, Brando opens his eyes and says, 'That really helped. I actually feel different!'"

    • Though Haggis and Tom Cruise were both successful, high-profile Scientologists, Haggis had met the movie star only twice before he and Clint Eastwood paid a visit to the set of War of the Worlds, where Cruise had erected a Scientology-espousing tent on set. Spielberg pulled Haggis aside to remark on how nice he found most Scientologists to be, and Haggis cracked, "Yeah, we keep all the evil ones in a closet." When Cruise found out about the joke (did Spielberg rat the guy out?) and took major offense, Haggis was summoned to the religion's Celebrity Centre to atone for it in front of church officials.

    • Still, at least Haggis didn't have it as bad as Tommy Davis. The head of the Celebrity Centre (and son of Anne Archer) is well liked inside the organization and often serves as a liaison to the media, but when he botched a project having to do with Cruise in 2005, he was sent to a Scientology boot camp in Clearwater and forced to scrub out Dumpsters with a toothbrush until four in the morning.

    • The villain of the piece? Undoubtedly David Miscavige, the 50-year-old leader of the church, who allegedly beat his employees and sent doubters into exile. "In June, 2006, while Miscavige was away from the Gold Base, his wife, Shelly, filled several job vacancies without her husband's permission," writes Wright. "Soon afterward, she disappeared. Her current status is unknown. Tommy Davis told me, 'I definitely know where she is,' but he won't disclose where that is." Certainly not creepy in the least!

    • The article's most striking, cinematic moment comes when Miscavige pays a visit to a pair of double-wide trailers (ominously nicknamed "the Hole") in Scientology's remote Gold Base, where almost a hundred members of the church were required to do group confessionals all day and night for atonement. In a twisted variation on They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Miscavige began to blare "Bohemian Rhapsody" over a boom box and announced that the group would play musical chairs, with only the winner allowed to stay on the base. Faced with the threat of marriages torn asunder, "the church leaders fought over the chairs, punching each other and, in one case, ripping a chair apart."

    • When Haggis left Scientology, he said that Scientologists would arrive at his office during pre-production of his film The Next Three Days, determined to draw him back into the fold. The writer/director mentioned Miscavige's abuses to them, which he had read about in the St. Petersburg Times, and though he generously drew a comparison to Martin Luther King Jr. (whose extramarital affairs, Haggis noted, meant he was fallible), the church officials were shocked. "They thought that comparing Miscavige to Martin Luther King was debasing his character," said Haggis. "If they were trying to convince me that Scientology was not a cult, they did a very poor job of it."

    • Also, get ready for this! "These people have long memories," Haggis warned Wright. "My bet is that, within two years, you're going to read something about me in a scandal that looks like it has nothing to do with the church."

  • 59. JonT  |  February 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Sweet… :!

  • 60. Bob  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    great report Ronnie,,,,, man you are a busy guy,,, thanks for all the time you put into eqaulity issues,,, can't imagine what it would be like to have your mom by your side and speaking up like that ,,, you and your mom are amazing people,,, thanks for all the energy you put into your activism, give your mom a hudge hug fulll of love

    woot woot cheers Bob

  • 61. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Back in 1993, I went to a Gay Pride event. It was in Washington DC. (If anyone else was in "DC in 93", you know what a moving experience that was!) I participated in many events over the weekend. One of the first was hosted by "Act Up", one of the first activist groups of the time.

    The one thing I remember most about the main speech was the call to activism. At the time I was a shy & quite young man. I thought to myself, that there is no way I could ever become an activist.

    By the end of the weekend, I had become an activist.

    Today, I can't remember NOT being an activist.

  • 62. fiona64  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm


    During that DC in '93 event, you may remember a young man in uniform. His name was Jose Zuniga, and he was Sixth Army's soldier of the year. He came out publicly at that event and was one of the first mustered out under DADT.

    He worked for me. He was a good soldier, and I argued vehemently against what was done to him. (That's the reader's digest version of the story, obviously …)


  • 63. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I probalby met him. I marched with the gay veterans in the parade.

  • 64. Tweets that mention Marri&hellip  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tony Sidaway, Testimony. Testimony said: Marriage Equality Lobbying Day in Albany, NY […]

  • 65. Carpool Cookie  |  February 11, 2011 at 5:10 am

    I love it! "Do what ya want…I've got my own problems…"

    : )

  • 66. Ronnie  |  February 20, 2011 at 5:03 am

    @Bob…you're welcome & thank you…my mom said thank you also (this email got buried in my inbox… I'm try to go through everything I missed in the beginning of Feb.)….anyway…cheers back.

    @Peter…..i guess I can say my activism started in D.C. also….I went to the National Equality March in 2009…the speeches were empowering…They too, made a call to activism….marching with along side everybody (some 200thou people)….I learned so much & realized what was really going on in this country in terms of Equality….there was so much I didn't know was happening (or in some cases not happening)….after that I started looking into things on the internet & here we are….I am so glad I've participated in the events I've been able to attend & finding Trial Tracker & FF4E & I met so many awesome people via the internet & in person, following all the pro-LGBT news sites learning more about what is going on, sharing that information, & keeping up to date…..The best thing is seeing my mom become a mini-activist herself…she told me today she loves doing these Equality events for me, herself, her brother (RIP) & sister, & for everybody…..well, on that note…thank you Peter for your activism..thank you Fiona for yours & thank you everybody for everything you are doing to bring Equality everywhere…..<3…Ronnie

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