Thursday, April 2, 2009

Equality & Justice Day – “Go to Albany and let your voices be heard”

Below is the fourth post in our series of E&J stories. Check back soon for more – and don’t forget to register for E&J Day.

D’Angelo Johnson, GENDA activist, New York City:

I started going to Equality & Justice Day a few years ago. I was very interested in learning more about how to get GENDA passed because I and many others in New York are affected by this bill. I was growing very frustrated with the lack of equal treatment for transgender and gender non-conforming people in NYC. It was in Albany that I met so many other folks who were everyday people that decided to take matters into their own hands and fight for equal rights. The experience kept me coming back because I felt like it was possible to actually impact change.
My first year was a huge crash course in lobbying and I was tutored by the one and only Melissa Sklarz as well as Sebastian McGuire, both of whom were very encouraging and helpful. I quickly learned the basics and found myself walking the halls in Albany, seeking out my Assemblymember and Senator from my district. Although Assemblymember Scarborough and Senator Huntley were not available, I was able to talk with their representatives and get a better understanding of how to set up appointments to meet with them once I got back to the city. When I got back to my district, I was part of a meeting with the very conservative Assemblymember Scarborough in regards to marriage equality. The meeting went well and to our surprise, the Assemblyman voted in support of marriage equality. Each year after that I became more involved in the work and facilitated workshops as well as coached other folks on what to expect and how to make the most of Lobby Day. I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go to Albany and let your voices be heard. There is a great sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with meeting lawmakers face to face and expressing the need for equality and justice for all. I am not saying change happens overnight or even at all sometimes, but I know that being involved facilitates more opportunity for change than standing on the sidelines.

Want to join us in Albany for Equality & Justice Day? Click here for more information or to register. Sign up now – the deadline to register to be guaranteed transportation and a legislative visit is April 10!

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