Pennsylvania has joined the growing list of states where same-sex marriage is front and center at the moment. Unlike Iowa, or Washington DC, it is not because PA may soon allow marriage equality- just the opposite. A Pennsylvania Senator has introduced a joint resolution, SB 707, which would amend the PA constitution to describe marriage as between one man and one woman, thus writing discrimination against same-sex couples into the PA constitution.
Background posts on this subject:
- Writing Discrimination Into the PA Constitution
- PA SB 707: Anti-gay marriage legislation
What You Can Do About PA SB 707
There are three good ways to contact your senator: by phone, by personal letter, or by meeting with him or her in person. Ideally, please do all three and encourage others to do the same. Â Today, I want to focus on phone calls and letter writing.
Why not email?
The far right who are really pushing to get this through the Senate are bombarding the senators with tons of mass emails. These have an impact: they tend to scare senators, but to really educate and get senators on our side, we need to contact them in a way that can make a real difference. If a senator receives as few as 3 or 4 real letters (not form letters, they truly take notice, and if we can get a dozen of letters to them*, it can be enough to change their vote! So, please don’t just send an email, it can get lost in the shuffle of the blast email responses.
What do I say or write?
In the past, we have found that telling our stories can do the most good. The opposition portrays us in a horrible way. When we tell our real stories, about our lives and our families, legislators learn to separate fact from fiction. So white about who you are, and why SB 707 Â would be harmful to you, your family, your future, and for Pennsylvania. Send a snapshot of your family if you want. Make it personal. Demonstrate that this action impacts real lives.
Don’t be abusive, or bullying. Even if this legislation makes you angry, speak from a place of civility and honesty and not anger, or confrontation. This is especially important if you are contacting a senator who supports this legislation! Consider if the shoes were on the other feet: how would you like to be talked to? Would being called stupid or an idiot or threatened make you change your mind or open your mind to a different perspective? Probably not. So, stick with the facts about the legislation, and to your story.
If you feel rage-full or angry and need to swear at someone, do that- but not to your elected official. Get it out of your system, and then call or write or visit your elected official.
Common courtesy can go a long way! Like your parents might have taught you, sentiments like, “please”, “thank-you”, and “sincerely” can take you very far.
You do not have to write a whole thesis! A short simple letter, or call that shares your story, and how this will impact you will do more good than writing a small book that covers every possible point of debate on this issue.
Don’t make assumptions or act as if every legislator is opposed to equal rights!
Support for or against SB 707 does not fall perfectly along party lines. For example, I have heard there are republicans who are opposed Â to SB 707! So allow your phone call or letter to be about why you want a legislator to oppose SB 707.
How do I contact my state senators?
The ACLU PA has a web tool that allows you to find your legislators and their contact information. If you need further assistance, or have questions you can email me for help! Another good tool is on the PA General Assembly web page.
What do I do after I’ve called or sent my letter?
I want to encourage you again, to do both call, and send a letter, but no matter if you do one or both, let someone know about it. The activists and organizations who are working in Harrisburg are strengthened, when they are aware of communications with various legislators. If you are comfortable doing so, post a comment to this blog entry, or post your letter. Or send a copy of it to the ACLU. Contact me for more information about this.
PA SB 707 Â is unnecessary, wasteful, hurtful, counter=productive and places discrimination into the PA constitution. It could happen unless we take action and speak loudly with one voice calling for fair and nondiscriminatory treatment for all Pennsylvanians.