OutFront Minnesota Coordinates Lobby Day for LGBT Equality

Several thousand are expected to participate in this annual event that connects

constituents with legislators to further GLBT equality.

During Lobby Day for LGBT Equality on April 14 at the State Capitol in St. Paul, OutFront Minnesota will facilitate meetings between state legislators and their constituents to promote GLBT rights, while motivating the GLBT community and its supporters to get involved and be heard.

Monica Meyer, who began with OutFront Minnesota as Public Policy Director in 2001, and became Executive Director in 2010, says, “What Lobby Day does is that it really helps us let legislators, elected officials who make decisions on policies, know that people in their district support equality.”

Through Lobby Day, Meyer adds, OutFront Minnesota aims to influence debate, and raise awareness of GLBT issues in the Minnesota Legislature.

Meyer notes that OutFront Minnesota hopes to rouse the GLBT community and its supporters to be active, while giving them the information to do so.

As Meyer explains, “We’re really trying to connect with Minnesotans, and get them on board with supporting equality, and then to make sure they have the tools and the local connections to be engaged and involved.”

Workshops in the morning will address bullying in Minnesota schools, as well as what can be done to prevent a constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage, further restricting GLBT rights.

Meyer states that Lobby Day relates to one of OutFront Minnesota’s primary goals: to rally support for GLBT equality.

As Meyer points out, 2010 election results stimulated another objective for Lobby Day: “This year, the opportunity and the challenge are that we have a bunch of new legislators. We really have an opportunity to make sure that our new elected officials are learning from their constituents about LGBT issues.”

Presently, 23 Senate members and 36 House members are in their first term, according to the 2010 Election Directory of the 2011-2012 Minnesota Legislature.

Several speakers at the Lobby Day rally will tell their story, and encourage support for GLBT equality and legislation, including Safe Schools for All, introduced by Minnesota State Senator Scott Dibble. It would require schools to adopt policies against bullying and harassment of students based on race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

Lobby Day speaker Alyssa Veil, a high school senior, and winner of the 2011 Paul A. Anderson Award for Youth Leadership, expresses her desire to influence students and others to demand a safe educational environment.

As Veil relates, “The power of speaking is really one of the most persuasive ways to change people, as long as they are listening.”

Veil met Sean Simonson, another Lobby Day speaker, at OutFront Minnesota’s Freedom to Marry Day rally in February. Simonson, a senior at Benilde-St. Margaret in St. Louis Park, wrote a controversial essay, “Life as a gay teenager,” for the Catholic school’s newspaper, Knight Errant, that he later was asked to take down from the publication’s website.

Simonson and Veil joined forces to draw out the student voice in a debate that, the latter recounts, often is dominated by adults, with a petition to pass Safe Schools for All.

Veil remarks, “We’re doing what we can. Doing something is going to make a change no matter what.”

Meyer, who believes people need to stand up and be recognized by their representatives to help get rid of GLBT discrimination in Minnesota and its laws, asserts, “If we are really going to be able change our state, we need thousands and thousands of people who are actively working to do that.”

OutFront Minnesota, originally called the Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council, began in 1987 with a mission “to make our home a place where GLBT Minnesotans have the freedom, power and confidence to make the best choice for their own lives.”

According to Meyer, Lobby Day helps achieve this vision.

In past years, Lobby Day has attracted about 2,000 people from the GLBT community and other supporters. Coaches will lead the meetings between constituents and legislators. More than 150 volunteers will help make the day run as smoothly as possible.

For more information and registration, visit www.outfront.org/lobbyday.

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