I’m in North Carolina working to build constituent support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. I’ve really appreciated the hospitality that I’ve encountered among the people I’ve met. Even though it’s my first time in the state, I already feel welcomed by the smiles of passers-by on the street.
The HRC steering committee here is very generous and hard working. I met with Randy Floyd, the Political Co-Chair for the Steering Committee, who is like the Energizer Bunny. He has so many ideas and is so passionate about the cause that it’s hard not to feel super enthusiastic after a conversation with him. Activism is contagious around these parts! I’m staying with Rich Hurley, who is the Membership and Community Events Chair for the Steering Committee in Charlotte, who was gracious to accommodate me at his beautiful and cozy home he shares with Macy, the cutest brown spotted Dalmatian ever.
I went to the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market for my first day of action gathering signatures from fair-minded North Carolinians to pass ENDA. I’ll be delivering these petitions and letters to U.S. Representatives Bob Etheridge and Larry Kissell when we meet with them later this week and next. Most people at the farmer’s market were responsive and supportive. Most thought that ENDA was already law but when they learned it wasn’t they quickly reached for the pen to sign our petition. One of the women who signed the petition shared her story about how one of her employees, who is a lesbian, pointed out to her that there were no protections for GLBT employees in their non-discrimination policy. The woman said she was shocked and quickly got together with her supervisors to include GLBT protection in their company’s Non-Discrimination Policy.
Many others at the farmer’s market caught on to what I was doing and made my job easier by just coming up to me having already decided to sign. A man who was from San Francisco, who now lives in Charlotte, pointed out to me that he was glad we were here because at his place of business—a bank—his co-workers are uptight about discussing GLEE, a television show with GLBT characters. Sadly, he felt as though he couldn’t communicate with his co-workers.
After my first day of canvassing it is clear to me that there are plenty of people in support of ENDA who need to be identified and urged to contact their Representatives, more specifically U.S. Representatives Kissell and Etheridge in North Carolina. Canvassing offers a great way to educate people about ENDA and about our lives as GLBT people. One woman was hesitant to sign but asked me many questions; she was worried that the law would backfire on employers and more lawsuits would ensue. I’m thankful that instead of not doing anything at all, she asked questions.
My afternoon at the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market garnered 40 signatures and 13 calls to Rep. Kissell. Not too shabby for the first day. I’ll be here for two weeks and will help continue our collective efforts to pass ENDA from North Carolina even after I leave.
Here’s a big smile back at the people of North Carolina!
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