What’s happening, and what can I do to help?

October 25, 2013

TestimonyOn Monday, October 28, the Legislature will convene in special session, and we need your help! You can submit testimony in writing, in person, or both. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The Senate will convene on Monday morning, and is expected to introduce SB1, Relating to Equal Rights (the bill is available here). The bill is expected to pass first reading, then be referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

2. The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor will hold a hearing on Monday beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning. The hearing notice is here.

3. If the Senate Committee recommends that the bill be passed, the bill will go to the full Senate for two votes. We expect the final vote to happen on Wednesday (but we don’t know for sure, it could be later).

4. Once the bill passes out of the Senate, it will “cross over” to the House of Representatives. We expect that the House will refer the bill to one or two committees, and we anticipate that the hearing will be on Thursday (if it’s referred to more than one committee, we expect the committees will hold a single hearing). We don’t know this for sure, though – this is just our expectation at this point.

If you plan to testify in person: here are some tips on how to make your presentation effective

1) Be polite. A positive tone will help ensure that legislators listen to your testimony with an open mind.

2) Be brief. At a maximum, you will have two minutes for your in-person testimony. The Chair will not hesitate to cut you off if you go longer than the maximum, so make your points succinctly!

3) Be calm. Other testifiers (and those in the audience) may say or do things that are hurtful and disrespectful, but it’s important to stay calm and collected. Just because opponents are yelling and cheering, or exceeding their allotted time to testify, does not mean that you should do the same. Show the legislators with your actions – as much as with your words – that they should be on our side.

4) Expand on your written testimony. Legislators will already have your written comments in front of them while you are speaking, so please don’t read it. Instead, use your two minutes to expand on what you wrote.

5) Prepare to spend all day at the Capitol. We expect hearings to be lengthy, and there is no set order for in-person testifiers. If you plan to testify in person, be prepared to stick around all day.

Even if you’re at the committee hearing in person, you don’t have to testify in person. When they call your name, you can just stand up and say, “I stand on my written testimony in support of marriage equality.” In fact, we encourage people to do exactly this: the legislators will know that you took the effort to come to the hearing in person, and they’ll appreciate being able to move the hearing along expeditiously.