PRIDE In Your Community visits Utah County

Elaine and I spent the 31st knocking on 4 politicians doors in Utah County today. 2 senators answered their doors, Senator Dayton of Orem, and Senator Mark Madsen of Eagle Mountain. I wish I could say we received a warm reception, but such is not the case unfortunately.

We took home-made brownies with us this time, and focused the conversation on the Fair Workplace and Housing bill that Equality Utah is putting forward. We wanted to share why this bill is important to us personally, and how it will directly affect the lives of so many Utahns.

Senator Dayton talked to us for about 5 minutes in her foyer, but made it clear that she valued “protecting the rights of property owners.” She also stated that she doesn’t think that sexual orientation should be a protected status in the workplace, “in Utah you can fire someone for wearing a red shirt, it’s at-will employment and we should respect that” she says.

Senator Madsen didn’t even let us in the door. He answered the bell himself, and when we introduced ourselves, he said in a very annoyed tone that it was “incredibly inappropriate to come to his house.” I’m not sure if Senator Madsen is aware of this, but he’s an elected official, and when concerned citizens come to his door, especially one of his own constituents (I still own a house in Eagle Mountain), he should probably listen to what they have to say. We would completely understand if he couldn’t talk because his family was sitting down for dinner, or if we interrupted something, but the way he said it made it clear that we were not welcome to come talk to him.

My friends, we know that the majority of Utahns are on our side with  these rights, at least 2 independent polls have shown that. But our elected officials need to be shown! How much of a difference will it make to the legislators we’re going to go talk to on Valentine’s day if we have 50 people out combing their neighborhoods, and their neighbors call them and ask them to support us? We have the support, we have history and we have truth on our side. Stand up and make the difference!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Chris on February 3, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    It sounds as though you are not aware of this, but public officials (such as State Senators) can be contacted up at their offices at “The Hill” any day of the work week. They usually put in an earnest days work of eight to 10 hours, sometimes more in a day, particularly this time of year which makes their weekends home with their families quite valuable. Most of our Senators and Representatives have wonderful open door policies and are eager to speak with us constituents. Next time, use the courteous and standard means of contacting them and not encroach on their private time. You will assuredly get a better reception. They will see you as having more credibility and professionalism. Best yet, they will genuinely listen to your concerns without distraction of what is going on with their family in the next room. Unfortunately, the outcome of your outing Saturday the 31st of January is not surprising, but better luck next time.
    -Regards

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm

      Hi Chris;

      Thanks for your feedback. Many people work during the week, and are unable to take time off of work in order to go up to the capitol. For this reason, it is common for local elected officials to open their doors to speak with the people who put them in office. We of course understand that we are showing up unannounced on their doorsteps, and as such if they are busy with family or anything else, do not begrudge them if they cannot see us. What I do object to is a dismissive and rude manner, showing no sympathy or understanding to a constituent.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Chris on February 4, 2009 at 11:21 am

    It is understandable that many folks are not able to take time off for a visit to the capitol. Nevertheless, most people, elected official or civilian, do not particularly welcome surprise visits from strangers at their residence (especially if the house is a mess;)). Social privacy standards and common courtesy does dictate that it would be polite to give them a call first before arriving unannounced.

    Typically, if there is a large enough of a group with the same concerns, such as yours, surely you would be able to appoint a representative of your group who would be willing and able to take the time off to address concerns to our elected officials at their place of work; or even hire a lobbyist. By no means I am not excusing the words and mannerisms transpired that day. But with the words you have written, it almost sounds like you were expecting doors gladly opening with arms wide open waiting to greet you with enthusiasm and gratitude for the brownies you so thoughtfully brought.

    My only comment of this is…what did you expect?

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 4, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      Chris;

      What did we expect? Essentially the same thing we expected when we did the same thing to Senator Buttars, a door slammed in our face. Interestingly enough, Buttars gave us an hour in his study, while Senator Madsen shut the door. We understand that the way we approach this is not under the normal way of doing things, however we do not consider our group to be lobbyists, and try to avoid formal or official visits. Instead we try to take the approach of being similar to “home-teaching” if you will, where it truly boils down to a neighborhood chat. We are not a part of Equality Utah, nor any other legal group and the point of going is truly just to show people (more neighbors that we speak with rather than even the legislators) that there are people who care.

      Reply

  3. Posted by Carllee on February 4, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    I personally do not know the “visitor” involved, nor Senator Madson, nor the politics of either, but I cannot help putting in two cents worth here due to the incredibly self-serving stance of the two people who called on the Senator. Hopefully you can learn something here about human relationships.

    These legislators are not your puppets, whose strings you should be able to pull to make them dance when and where you wish. They are living, breathing, hard working people who deserve our thanks and support for the hours, days, weeks, months they devote to helping keep this the best-run state in the Union.

    If you had an ounce of concern or consideration for others, you would, at the bare minimum have called ahead and set up an appointment. Better yet, you would have either written the Senator, called him at his office, or made the trip if your message or inquiry were important enough.

    Your entire attitude needs an adjustment. You obviously think that whatever your agenda is trumps all exhaustion, illness, family, tight schedules, lack of time, stress, time with children, etc., etc., etc.! You do not have a crystal ball showing you what you may have been interrupting at this poor man’s home!

    Sounds like you belong to the “entitlement” generation. Get over it! Learn some diplomacy, at least — if not real charity for your fellow men. (And why would you think anyone would want to eat “brownies” coming from a complete stranger?) At the best, you need to learn some consideration for others: I recommend George Washington’s Rules of Civility. (At the worst, this sounds like it could be a calculated effort at entrapment on your part…..)

    You owe the Senator a public apology (since you have chosen to go public with your diatribe against him). And, then, if you have an issue of real concern for the people of this state, you need to behave yourself and visit him at his office (during his office hours) with those concerns — like a gentleman! Instead of behaving like a lout!

    Reply

    • Posted by ethingtoneric on February 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

      Carllee;

      I’ll make a few points here for you.

      1) The Common Ground Initiative, most specifically the Fair Housing and Workplace bill, is one of the most important bills to the enormous “gay community” in Utah. The injustice of a state allowing companies or property managers to fire or evict people purely based on their sexual orientation borders the unimaginable. This being the case, it is of little surprise that the people of Utah will go to any lengths within their means in order to ensure that their voice is heard.

      2) I have commented before that it is understood, and perhaps even expected that the Senator may have been busy. As you mentioned, they have a busy work week during the short time that they are in session. As I also previously stated, if this is the case I find no fault nor could place any blame on Senator Madsen for not being able to meet with us. The issue I take offense at is the dismissive manner with which he treated two people who helped put him in office, no matter what topic they wanted to discuss.

      3) PRIDE In Your Community is a community outreach program, that focuses mainly on service projects in suburban and rural Utah. In December, we showed up unannounced at random homes in Cottonwood Heights and passed out literature and shoveled people’s driveways. January, we baked 60 loaves of pumpkin bread, and delivered it with a message about equality (no snow at the time). Because of the current timing with the 2009 legislative session, if one of the doors we are going to knock on is an elected official, we will of course have a prepared message for them, and will ask if we can speak with them about the issue. If this is not a good time, we of course understand and move on.

      So while I thank you for your comment, and your obvious passion on the subject, please do not think for a moment that we have no regard for our officials. There may have been reasons (possibly good ones) behind the way the Senator treated P.I.Y.C., but I can offer no apologies for pointing out that kind of behavior.

      Reply

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