Post submitted by HRC Governor, Portland Steering Committee Member Linda Brown
Earlier this month, I attended a town hall meeting with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in Oregon City, which is a small town in Clackamas County. The county is split between the urban/rural divide, which is known for influencing Oregon politics.
Senator Wyden began the meeting by asking the 300-400 attendees if this was the first town hall they had ever been to. About a third of the audience raised their hands. He then spoke about his years of doing town halls in all 36 counties in Oregon. Our town hall was the 701st meeting he has had during his tenure as our senator. The crowd was extremely diverse, including young families with babies, senior citizens and everything in between.
He briefly laid down some ground rules and proceeded to answer questions. We had been given tickets, with numbers on them, if we were interested in asking questions. A majority of the questions were about the repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, reproductive rights, cyber security, Trump’s cabinet choices and other kitchen table issues. Then my number was called!
I introduced myself as a citizen of Clackamas County and that I also serve on the National Board of Governors for HRC. The audience cheered and applauded. I asked about so-called “religious freedom” bills and the rumors swirling that President Trump is planning to sign yet another discriminatory executive action targeting the LGBTQ community.
Senator Wyden took off on a great riff about his support for LGBTQ issues, including marriage equality. He has always scored 100 percent on the HRC Congressional Scorecard, but I was glad to hear him advocate for the LGBTQ community once again. As I walked back to my seat from the microphone a woman thanked me. This was a great experience.
I encourage anyone to attend in-district meetings no matter who your elected official is. Tell your stories. To do our work, we must change hearts and minds, even if it is one person at a time. Learn where your members of Congress stand on LGBTQ issues here.