Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Gay Vegans: Another legislative session in Colorado - make your voice heard!

By Dan Hanley

In Colorado, our state legislature is not year-long. They begin in January and go through early May.

I believe that it is vital for any activist to be politically active. When politicians, especially on the state level, know who you are and are familiar with your concerns, change has a better chance of happening.

This session won't be much different than past sessions. A lot of hot air against the other side. Egos run rampant. Meanwhile the people of Colorado many times get left behind. I must say that I have met many of those who represent Coloradans at the state capitol and they truly care about the people they represent. I don't know what happens through the process of creating legislation that they tend to forget this.

One of the bills I have been watching is a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couple who have married in states where there is marriage equality to file state taxes as a couple. This passed the state senate along party (Democrat/Republican) lines 18 - 16. One Republican must have not voted as they have 17 folks in the state senate. The bill goes on to the state house where the Democrats have a large majority. Most likely Governor Hickenlooper will sign it.

This bill makes a lot of sense, especially because gay and lesbian couples who are legally married can now file federal taxes as a couple. The religious extremists say this would affect traditional marriage. I imagine many things affect traditional marriage. In this case, the couples are already married. Legally. I think most of the no votes boil down to the fact that many of them just do not like gay folk and the rest feel like they have to vote the party line.

Just as a refresher, Republican politicians in Colorado generally do not care for gay people. Many will talk your ears off that their votes/opinions have to do with a long list of other reasons, yet the simple fact is that they just don't like us.

Why is this important to activists? Many in state races win by a very few votes. The new Attorney General in Virginia won by less than 1,000 votes in a statewide vote!

Also, state legislators have control over state laws, which have a huge affect on each of us.

And just to remind you, everyone has two people who represent them at their state capitol. In Colorado we have one state legislator and one state senator. We also have term limits, so the max a state legislator can serve is four, two-year terms and the max a state senator can serve is two, four-year terms.

If you care about animal cruelty, let your state rep and senator know. If you have an opinion about gun control, send an email. Care about poverty, women's rights, speed limits or GMO's, pick up the phone.

We can complain amongst ourselves as much as we want. Change does not have a chance of happening until we express our opinions to those who have the power to make change.

Here's a website where you can look up who represents you at your state capitol:

This post originally appeared on Dan Hanley's website The Gay Vegans. Republished with permission.