May Your Days be MERI and Bright

Catch the spirit of the season! Join MERI supporters for some holiday cheer on Saturday, December 4, from 7 to 10 p.m. at 234 Blackstone Boulevard, Providence. Suggested donation of $50 per person at the door.

Thank you to our gracious hosts ~ Raffaello LaMantia and J. Edward Levelle.

EQUALITY WINS

Rhode Islanders Set the Stage for a Marriage Equality Win in 2011

The impact of this election cycle was monumental for equality.  MERI congratulates marriage equality advocate Governor-elect Lincoln Chafee and the vast number of marriage equality victors in the Rhode Island General Assembly races.

Working really hard matters.  The elections taught us that.  Canvassing the state over the last year, knocking on over 30,000 doors and gathering over 10,000 additional supporters taught us that.  Working hard is what we do at MERI, because it matters.  And yes, there is more to do.

Join us.  NOW is the time to step up and become a visible marriage supporter.  We know you are out there.  Join us and help MERI make Rhode Island the next state in the nation to embrace equality.

We work through the legislature.  We need you to:

Talk to your legislators.   Do you know where your Senator and Representative stand on equality?  Did your district elect a new legislator?  Your voice is the single most important component in educating and persuading your legislators.  They want to hear from you, and they will listen to you. We can help you prepare for those critical, and fun, conversations.  Contact Emma at egarrett@marriageequalityri.org or 941-2727.  Meet your legislators at the local coffee shop today.

Come to the State House.   Join us at the Marriage Equality Rally and testify at the hearings.

STAY TUNED to www.MarriageEqualityRI.org for the rally date and hearing dates.

GET READY TO TESTIFY

The marriage equality legislation will be filed in January, and we anticipate even more sponsors than we have ever had.  Both bills will likely be assigned to the judiciary committee of each chamber.

Now is the time to start preparing your testimony for the upcoming hearings.  Everyone is encouraged to participate in this important process.  You can present testimony before the committee, submit testimony in writing, or come to the hearings to observe and lend your support.

As a general rule:

  • Oral testimony should be about three minutes long.  The committee chair will set the time parameters for testifying.  You can submit your entire testimony in writing, which will be distributed to the committee members.  Put the bill number on your testimony.
  • Front-load your comments.  Put the most important points first (you can never be sure how long you will have the legislators’ attention).
  • Speak as personally as you can.  Reminding the committee members that the legislation impacts real lives every day is crucial.
  • Stay positive.  Speak with generosity and assume that the world is on your side.
  • Certainly, the most valuable and persuasive voice is your own. Speak your truth from your heart, with clarity and compassion, and you will move mountains.

If you would like to testify, we would love to know.  Please contact Kathy at kjkushnir@marriageequalityri.org or Karen at kloewy@glad.org .  We are also available to help you with testimony prep, research, talking points, or to be a sounding board.  Just ask.

SOME BASICS

When will the hearings be held?

Hearings will take place with 48 hours notice.  You can watch the General Assembly’s web site committee calendar at: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/QuickCalendar.  MERI will post hearing information on our web site (www.MarriageEqualityRI.org) and the listservs.

Where are the hearings?

At the State House in Providence.  You must enter the State House at the Smith Street (north) entrance and go through security.  Allow time for this process.

The House Judiciary committee meets in Room 205, and the Senate Judiciary committee meets in Room 313.  Watch the hearing notices for specific details; sometimes the hearing room will change, anticipating larger crowds.

Hearings will be set at the rise.  This means immediately following the full session, which starts at 4 p.m.  Hearings usually start between 4:30 and 6 p.m.  If you would like a seat in the hearing room, you need to get to the State House early, usually 3 or 4 p.m.

At the hearing, there will be a sign-in sheet with the bill number on it.  If you are going to present testimony to the committee, you must sign in and indicate whether you are speaking for (pro) or against (con) the legislation.

Hearings can last a long time.  It isn’t unusual to be finishing up around midnight.

Where do I park?

There is metered street parking around the State House, so you will need quarters.  The parking lots opposite the State House, north of Smith Street behind the Department of Health and Department of Administration buildings, usually open up after the employees leave for the day.  There is also parking at Providence Place Mall, but you will need to walk up the hill to the Smith Street entrance.

Special access needs

Enter the legislators’ parking lot, which is the first lot just east of the State House off Smith Street, and you will see the entrance to your right.  You will go through security, then head down the hall and take the elevator to the second or third floor.

STAY ENGAGED.  GET INVOLVED.  MAKE IT HAPPEN.