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One person can make a difference — this time, my sister

Marriage equality

By Adam Bink

Part of my organizing philosophy is that one person can make a difference. We all feel that things we click on or write or contribute go into the ether, when in reality, as demonstrated this morning, we use your contribution, letters, petitions to go out and do things.

Yesterday, my sister, Melanie, dropped me a line. She lives back home in Niagara County, north of Buffalo, NY, and is represented by State Sen. George Maziarz, a fairly partisan Republican who is also a member of the Republican leadership. He is also an opponent of same-sex marriage and voted against the bill when it came up in the New York State Senate in December 2009.

Melanie was asked by the Human Rights Campaign to e-mail Sen. Maziarz to note the now-record level of support in New York State for same-sex marriage (58% according to the independent and noted Siena poll) and ask him to support same-sex marriage when it comes to a vote. Here’s what she took a minute to send (and I’m proud of her for doing it):

To: maziarz@nysenate.gov
From: Melanie
Sent by: Human Rights Campaign
Date: 04/04/2011 09:01PM
Subject: Support Marriage Equality in New York

Apr 4, 2011

Senator George Maziarz
Legislative Office Building, Room 708
Albany, NY 12247

Dear Senator Maziarz,

As your constituent and a supporter of the Human Rights Campaign,
please support the freedom of every New Yorker to marry the person they
love, regardless of their sexual orientation.  Marriage is essential to
making all families more secure.

Same-sex couples pay the same taxes, follow the same laws and should
have the same access to a civil marriage license. Respecting the
marriages of same-sex couples will strengthen relationships, foster
stability and make families more secure, enabling them to take care of
themselves so the government won’t have to.

Making marriage equality a reality is not only the right thing to do,
it’s also the smart thing to do. A clear majority of New Yorkers
support the freedom to marry, including every age group and region in
our state.

Please vote to treat all New Yorkers equally this year. Thank you.

Respectfully,

Melanie

And here’s what she got back in reply:

From: maziarz@nysenate.gov
Date: April 13, 2011 12:29:55 PM EDT
To: Melanie
Subject:Re: Support Marriage Equality in New York

Dear Melanie,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you very much for the e-mail you sent to my office in support of sanctioning gay marriages in New York State.  I greatly appreciate your input and your personal perspective on the issue, and I will certainly keep your views in mind as the debate on this proposal continues.

Best wishes,

George Maziarz

Senator, 62nd District

It might be an exchange, one of many, that Sen. Maziarz remembers when he goes to vote. We’ll see.

One can’t always guarantee it’s the Senator himself or herself replying. But I’ve seen it happen before (and might explain the 9-day delay in reply). This was an exchange sent to me by my friend Perry with his State Senator in Syracuse:

From: <valesky@senate.state.ny.us>
Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:27 AM
Subject: Re: Vote for the marriage equality bill
To: PerryThank you for your email with regard to the Governor’s Marriage Equality
Bill.Please know that should this bill make it to the Senate floor, I will be
supporting it.

I hope this information is helpful to you.

Best,

Dave Valesky
State Senator

From:     Perry

To:         valesky@senate.state.ny.us

Date:       11/10/2009 03:24 PM

Subject:    Vote for the marriage equality bill

Senator David Valesky
State Capitol Building
Washington Ave. and State Street
Albany, NY 12247

Dear Senator Valesky,

I need you to make sure the marriage equality bill (S.4401)
comes to the floor today and to vote in support of this crucial
legislation for LGBT families. Same-sex couples and their
families cannot and should not have to wait any longer for a
vote that will determine if they will have access to the 1,324
rights and protections that our state provides to all other
married couples.

It is time for the New York State Senate to take up the issue of
marriage equality. Millions of gay and lesbian New Yorkers and
their friends and families expect and deserve a vote on this
matter in the State Senate.

This should not be a partisan matter. It should be a vote of
conscience that occurs today. I will be watching to see what
action you take on this issue.

Sincerely,
Perry Singleton

Sen. Valesky (D-Syracuse) ended up staying true to his promise and voting for the bill, and I know for a fact he wrote back to Perry himself.

My point is that, especially on the local level, one person can make a difference and reach his or her elected representative. These e-mails matter, especially as NOM is alerting its members that the NY State Legislature is “set” to vote on a bill again in the coming weeks. Whether or not Sen. Maziarz votes for equality, Melanie’s note is being noticed and counted by someone.

So if you’re a New York State resident, please do take a minute to do what my sister did. You might end up reaching the Senator him or herself so he or she knows you’re watching.

61 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Alan E.  |  April 14, 2011 at 6:37 am

    Sounds great! Just in the last thread, one can still use NOM's letters to send your own personalized one.

  • 2. AnonyGrl  |  April 14, 2011 at 6:51 am

    Once again, let me remind people of what I learned on the day of lobbying that Marriage Equality NY set up.

    If at all possible, make an appointment and go to your state capitol and speak to your legislators there. Even if you can only get in for 10 minutes, do it. That counts for hundreds of times more weight than an email. If that is not possible, the next best thing is to make an appointment to speak to them in their offices in your district. It might be in your town, or a nearby one, but if you can do a face to face, do it!

    Following that, write a letter. A mailed letter with a stamp and an actual signature on it counts for more than an email.

    This is NOT to say that emails are not important. EVERY contact is. But if you have the ability to do the face to face meeting and say "Senator, I am a constituent, and HERE is how marriage equality affects me and my family," do it!!!

    If you can also ask your Senator to HELP you with a particular issue that the denial of marriage equality is causing (for instance, you can't get insurance for your children) then do that. Bring the facts and figures. Ask your Senator to make a call, write a letter, get involved. This is especially effective if you can get someone who is on the fence to be an advocate by realizing the need that exists on a human level.

    Adam, it is GREAT that your sister did get a response, and I do hope that it was personal, and that he IS considering the issue. Every bit helps, as you well know. Tell her I said WOO HOO!! please!

  • 3. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

    I don't know what the levels of political engagement are in New York State, but I know from other campaigns I've participated in here in California that just a few letters can be a huge influence, since so few people even bother to express their opinion directly to a politician's office. One lobbyist once told us, "Sometimes twenty letters is considered a landslide."

    So do it; it appears few other voters do, and this gives those who care an advantage.

  • 4. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 14, 2011 at 6:56 am

    …and to echo AnonyGrl, "a letter is better."

  • 5. Ann S.  |  April 14, 2011 at 7:25 am

    §

  • 6. Michelle Evans  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Our congressman here in Orange County, John Campbell, is not only a LGBTphobe, but also a birther. I have tried for years to make an appointment with him, and he refuses to even acknowledge the letters, emails, and phone calls. He could care less that myself and other people like me are supposedly his constituents.

    I was with a group of LGBT supporters that were allowed into his office through action of the HRC a couple of years ago. Instead of being there to meet us, at an appointment which had been verified and re-verified, he blew us off. His assistant "apologized" and made a second appointment for us, which he also blew off. A staffer did see us the second time, and the meeting appeared to go reasonably well with assurances given that specific questions would be followed up on. Nothing ever happened after repeated inquiries.

    To make it even worse, in the conference room where we sat down and met the staffer, there was a prominent photograph sitting on the desk of Campbell shaking hands and smiling with Dan Choi! Considering all that happened to us, that was a huge slap on the face. He must have a stock of such photos to put out depending on who is slated to come into the office that day.

    If anyone here has contact with Choi, they should ask him to contact Campbell's office, and insist that the photograph be removed and destroyed, since Campbell is obviously a hypocrite and should not be trading on Choi's good name and image as an affront to all LGBT people in his district.

  • 7. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:10 am

  • 8. LD  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Both my state senator and representative are strongly in support of marriage equality, but I will write them anyway to make sure they know their stance is appreciated.

    Do you think that anti-equality senators/reps pay any attention to letters from persons outside of their constituency?

  • 9. Rev. Will Fisher  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Just thanked Sen. Oppenheimer!

  • 10. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I know my anti-equality Congressman doesn't pay attention to letters from persons within his constituency (unless the letters support his abhorrent right-wing nuttiness).

    Then again — if I was in Congress, I likely wouldn't pay any attention to anti-equality letters from constituents.

  • 11. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Reverend Fisher — I'm sure you've mentioned it before, but I'm too swamped with work to go looking for it … To what denomination do you belong?

  • 12. Straight for Equalit  |  April 14, 2011 at 8:45 am

  • 13. Sagesse  |  April 14, 2011 at 9:07 am

    To follow along.

  • 14. Alan E.  |  April 14, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Civil Unions just passed in Delaware's House and Senate!

    Following on Twitter:
    http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23DEunions

    but there may be more coming out very soon

  • 15. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 14, 2011 at 9:35 am

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 16. Ronnie  |  April 14, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I was just going to post about this….Yay Delaware!!!!…..<3…Ronnie

  • 17. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

    UPDATE: Perry

    Vaughn R. Walker letter to Molly Dwyer, Clerk of the Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, responding to Proponents' motion to compel return of trial recordings. http://www.scribd.com/doc/53041973

  • 18. JonT  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

  • 19. AnonyGrl  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Err… for some reason I get a message that the letter has been deleted? Any idea what's up Kathleen? I would love to read it.

    Thanks! Oh, and you rock!

  • 20. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:14 am

    something went wrong at Scribd and the document was deleted. … Give me a minute and I'll get it uploaded again.

  • 21. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Here's the new link http://www.scribd.com/doc/53043053

  • 22. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Now I'm getting the "deleted" message.

  • 23. Kate  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I, too.

  • 24. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Really? The new link isn't working? I don't know what's going on. Is this a cache problem?

    Can someone who didn't click on the first link already… try the second link and tell me if it's working?

  • 25. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Me three–I just clicked the second link.

  • 26. Mark M (Seattle)  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Showing deleted for me too…on the second link having never tried the first

  • 27. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

    I don't understand what's happening. I'll try uploading this to my other Scribd account.

  • 28. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I tried the second link before I tried the first. Silly modern technology!

  • 29. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

    Try this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53044086

    Both of the two prior links are still showing up in my document feed at Scribd. This may be a Scribd glitch of some weirdness. Anyway, maybe this will work (alternate account)

  • 30. Mark M (Seattle)  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Nope…still showing deleted

  • 31. Kate  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Nope.

  • 32. JonT  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:51 am

    The document 'CA9Doc 339' has been deleted

  • 33. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Sigh… still trying to figure out what's going on.

  • 34. JPM  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:00 am

    The document 'CA9Doc 339' has been deleted

  • 35. JPM  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:00 am

    More here
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/14/967080/-

  • 36. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I'm told this upload to Google docs is working: http://bit.ly/hJdsjf

  • 37. Peterplumber  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

    It is also posted on the 9th court of appeales website.
    http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/general/201

  • 38. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Thanks. Good to know!

  • 39. Peterplumber  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

    I thought he would have more to say. It appears all he says is, "I'll give it up if I am ordered".

  • 40. Mark M (Seattle)  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

    The heading of this blog post and the events of the last few days regarding Louis (Hi Louis!), got me thinking about the nature of change. I've noticed that in my life at least, change causes ripples…far reaching sometimes.
    Well it seems that one of those ripples surrounding Louis' change of heart has touched me in a very positive way.
    Here's why I say this……
    I use to come to this site, and sadly more times than not I would leave sad, angry, frustrated, despondent, disillusioned, and just plan depressed. Reading this site on many days was like staring directly into the face of hatred. I of course am not talking of our dear little family here, but rather the subjects/stories/news articles etc. The consolidation of so much information about those that hate us and want to do us harm was/is really overwhelming….can be for me at least.
    Well, since this wonderful opening of heart and mind by our new friend Louis Marinelli, I feel different. I feel happier, lighter, more focused on the positive.
    I believe I have Louis to thank for that. He showed me that we do indeed make a difference, that being ourselves, being open, being 'out' changes peoples' point of view – opens their eyes.
    I also know that I am even more excited about my wedding day.
    It somehow feels even more special now that I can truly feel in my heart that the tide is turning, equality is that much closer today than it was yesterday. Someday I won't just be married in 5 states and one district in the country I was born, paid my taxes to, and served while in the military. I will someday be a true citizen.

    Friday April 29th is our wedding day. We will arrive on Monday the 25th, we'll get our license and than wait the three days required. It's so sad we are getting married on the same day as the royal couple Willie and Kate… a prince and princess and two old queens :-)

  • 41. Ann S.  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Mark, best wishes on the upcoming nuptials! I don't think it's sad about you and Willie and Kate at all.

  • 42. Mark M (Seattle)  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Thanks! :-)

  • 43. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I think it's pretty cool that you're getting married the same day as the royal couple. What a great thing to tell your grandchildren (if you decide to raise kids & they decide to give you grandchildren) or your friends. =) Congratulations!

    In what state or district will you be getting married?

  • 44. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    But he said it with style. I totally heart Judge Walker.

  • 45. Mark M (Seattle)  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:44 am

    We have two kids….and just found out last week that we will be Grandpas in September :-)

  • 46. nightshayde  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Oooh! Congratulations — that's fantastic!

    Seriously — that just brought tears to my eyes. Your grandchild(ren) will be very lucky to have you & your husband as Grandpas!

  • 47. Kathleen  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:50 am

    UPDATE: Golinski v. OPM

    Golinski v. OPM – Amended Complaint as permitted by Order of the court from 3/17/11. http://www.scribd.com/doc/53046973

    This was released earlier but I was busy futzing with the Walker letter. :)

  • 48. Ann S.  |  April 14, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    He did say it with style, and he managed to get across his point about televising trials at the same time.

  • 49. Ray  |  April 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    I also live in Niagara County, New York. Maziarz sent me the same response 6/29/09 …then voted against Gay marriage that December. Privately he's stated he would never vote for Gay Marriage…

  • 50. Elizabeth Oakes  |  April 14, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Congrats! Will there be commemorative tea towels?

  • 51. Rev. Will Fisher  |  April 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    The Episcopal Church

  • 52. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    April 29th is soon! Looking forward to hear details. Wishing you a safe and happy journey : D Love, Gregory

  • 53. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    "Defending Marriage" House Hearing Panelists Set for Friday

    Maggie Gallagher, the chairman of the board of the National Organization for Marriage, is to be joined by Edward Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, as the Republican-picked witnesses…..
    <a href="http://metroweekly.com/poliglot/2011/04/defending-marriage-house-heari.html
    ” target=”_blank”>http://metroweekly.com/poliglot/2011/04/defending-marriage-house-heari.html

  • 54. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Today!

  • 55. Gregory in Salt Lake  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    As some have mentioned. Today is the day of silence:
    http://snellville.patch.com/articles/a-day-of-sil

  • 56. Leo  |  April 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    And now presumably this becomes another case that DOJ won't defend? Those House lawyers will have a lot of work. On Monday we should finally see which law firm it is (motion to intervene is due in Windsor).

  • 57. Ed  |  April 15, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Oh please please tell me there is a link to the hearings!!

  • 58. Kate  |  April 15, 2011 at 12:05 am

    Can Louis sneak in to speak???????

  • 59. Kathleen  |  April 15, 2011 at 2:11 am

    This is the suit that was dismissed last month on procedural grounds. In doing so, the Court gave the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend the complaint, and seemed eager for an change to rule DOMA unconstitutional:

    "The Court would, if it could, address the constitutionality of both the legislative decision to enact Section 3 of DOMA to unfairly restrict benefits and privileges to state-sanctioned same-sex marriages or address the conflict regarding the Executive’s decision not to defend the constitutionality of a law it has determined appropriate to enforce. However, the Court is not able to reach these constitutional issues due to the unique procedural posture of this matter.

    Because the Court cannot find as a matter of law that amendment would be futile, the Court grants Plaintiff leave to amend to attempt to plead a claim that the Court may legitimately address."

    The March 16 ORDER is available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/50901590/

  • 60. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  April 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Council Bluffs Iowa, Pottawatamie county
    Our witnesses will be Robert's mother and my oldest sister
    With a spattering of nieces and nephews and a brother-in-law or two :-)

  • 61. Rhie  |  April 18, 2011 at 4:08 am

    Later…

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