I began to write this as a reply to a comment on an early blog post, but decided to make it a pst of its own.  In reply to the press release about leadership changes at Equality PA, a comment was made about the need for leadership.  Here is a reply:

I follow the idea that all politics are local, and given that, the most amount of good, will come by looking for and utilizing leadership and action at the local level. I believe we need state-wide and national organizations, and I’m glad Equality PA is out there doing what it is doing to create change and work for LGBT rights. However, as long as we have a shared set of goals, the real work may best be done on a smaller scale, and I think that scale may be county or regional.

For example, PA HB 300 is or should be a major priority to get passed this year. It has already been moved further through the process than ever before! There are plenty of legislators in the Western PA area that need to be contacted, educated about the importance of this legislation and encouraged to vote for HB 300. This means your friends and my friends, and folks who are part of all of the local organizations making it their priority to set up meetings with their legislators, and sending personal letters to these men and women in Harrisburg (not emails). Western PA could make or break HB 300. What leadership is or isn’t apparent at a state-wide level isn’t going to be the deciding factor, but lots of local people hounding their friends, and neighbors to call, send a letter or visit with the representative.

If the last year hasn’t taught us anything, it must be that change will happen when a large enough mass of people demand it, and the easiest way to grow that mass is through local and regional organizations.

In reply to your comment about Onorato. All politicians need educating about the issues important to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer residents of our state. Some need very little education, but many need much, much more. I would rather put time and energy into getting my friends to meet with their legislator so that we get these folks voting for our needs. Simply blasting those who are not on board (or far enough on board) doesn’t really move them any further along. Let’s call out who is not on board, but then get past that, and get to work schooling them!

Two examples from my own experience. When I went to speak with my house rep, Joe Preston, he told me I was the only constituent who had contacted him about HB 300! We can not expect house reps to get on board if we are not contacting them. Fortunately, Joe is a friend to our community. But I know there are plenty of reps who are like Joe and have had no one has contact them. I also had the pleasure of meeting with a group of constituents who went to see Joe Petrarca in Vandergrift. I am 100% sure it was the first time he say at a table with a Trans person , and was able to hear first hand why nondiscrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations is critical.

Lastly, there are state-wide groups like the ACLU and the Women’s Law Project that both need our support and greatly deserve it. And Equality PA is moving forward. But no matter how we perceive the level of leadership out there, we already have the tools we need to make progress. We do that, by each of us stepping up to the plate and making the time and energy to write letters, and make visits with our elected officials.

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