Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where's G.A. Hardaway?

When GLBT constituents and their friends from all corners of Tennessee arrived for Advancing Equality on the Hill last Tuesday, a few had difficulty meeting with their Senators or House Representatives. Liberadio and Pith in the Wind documented that Senator Diane Black (R-Gallatin) canceled her appointment with her constituents because there was really no reason to meet since there was nothing new to hear and there were no common stances with anything her GLBT constituents had to discuss. Despite the cancellation, her constituents did report to Black's office at the appointed time and were able to talk with her for a few minutes.

Rep. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) "stood up" his constituents twice after missing scheduled and rescheduled appointments on Tuesday. Campfield is notorious for filing bills that border on the absurd that have never made it to the floor for a vote. His proposed legislation includes bills that would prohibit discussion of homosexuality or bisexuality in public schools, call for issuing death certificates for aborted fetuses, and deny birth certificates to immigrant children.

Shelby County constituents also had difficulty meeting with a few of their lawmakers. I phoned several times to schedule an appointment with Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-92) during the weeks before Advancing Equality Day. I finally reached him last Friday. He apologized that his office had not responded with an appointment for Tuesday and apologized for not calling to cancel a scheduled appearance at TEP's Lobbying 101 training in Memphis on Jan. 24. Hardaway asked that I call his office early Tuesday morning. He was certain he would have time to meet.

I called Rep. Hardaway's office at 8:15 a.m. last Tuesday and was offered a meeting with Hardaway at 12 Noon. When my fellow constituents and I arrived at Hardaway's office at Noon, we were told that he would not be available for the rest of the day. I found this curious since many in our Shelby County group had seen Rep. Hardaway several times in the halls of Legislative Plaza earlier in the day.

Most people who know me will tell you that I am a patient person. I try to accommodate elected officials because I understand they have many demands and responsibilities. Their time is valuable. But a pattern of avoidance seems evident here.

Rep. G.A. Hardaway represents the Cooper Young Neighborhood which includes a high number of GLBT residents and business owners, GLBT-friendly businesses, and the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Hardaway's constituents deserve to know where he stands on legislation that affects our community. Hardaway has demonstrated an interest in GLBT voters of his district when he is campaigning for office (He made the rounds at the Midsouth Pride Festival last June). But I have never heard him state a position on legislation that affects his GLBT constituents.

So, where is G.A. Hardway? Where does he stand on the adoption ban bill, the birth certificate bill, and the "Don't Say Gay in Schools" bill? If you are lucky enough to catch him, be sure to ask him and let me know.


Tony Gottlieb said...

I suspect if activists for TN Equality Project had demonstrated one iota of support for GA Hardaway's 12 year fight for presumptive parental equality of biological fathers for their own children, even if he disagreed with your initiative, he might have made time to meet you. But you never have.
Tony Gottlieb

Chris Sanders said...

I don't follow. We have to do something to earn the opportunity to meet with officials elected to represent us?