Post submitted by Tori Wolfe-Sisson, HRC Alabama field organizer
Last week, at the Avondale Public Library in Birmingham, HRC Alabama hosted the first town hall meeting of the year in preparation for the 2016 Alabama Legislative session beginning February 2, 2016. Other town halls are in Auburn, Montgomery, Mobile and Huntsville. We met with volunteers who came thirsty for information and ready to work together as soon as possible. Our goal is to train and engage local volunteers to improve the lives of LGBT Alabamians - focusing on nondiscrimination protections and assuring access to fully-inclusive, quality healthcare.
Before turning to the challenges ahead, we celebrated the successes of 2015. In 2015, HRC Alabama and statewide coalition partners defeated all anti-LGBT bills in the state legislature, including House Bill 56, the “Freedom of Religion in Marriage Protection Act,” and religious refusal bills around child care and adoption services. Bipartisan pro-equality support in the 2015 legislative session came from Rep. Chris England (D), who introduced the “Tim Cook Economic Development Act,” a fully inclusive nondiscrimination bill, and from Sen. Del Marsh (R), who introduced a state public employee nondiscrimination bill.
While 2015 was certainly a celebratory year around marriage equality, we also saw advances in our work related to institution change around healthcare, faith, and workplace inclusion outreach work. In September, HRC Alabama hosted a statewide Healthcare Equality Index luncheon with Brookwood Medical Center to introduce the HEI to ten leading healthcare systems, with four new systems agreeing to work toward becoming state HEI Leaders. In November we co-hosted “A Generous Faith Conference” with the Magic City Acceptance Project’s Communities of Faith Committee, as well as the volunteer leadership-led statewide corporate “Workplace Inclusion” Summit, sponsored by Alabama heavyweights, Alabama Power, HealthSouth and BBVA Compass, among others.
Just before the beginning of Alabama’s legislative session, HRC Alabama is keeping a watchful eye on the legislature and working to educate and mobilize our volunteers and supporters statewide. HRC Alabama staffer, Eva Walton Kendrick, touched on anti-LGBT introduced in neighboring states in the 2016 legislative year in order to educate supporters on the importance of unifying our voices for pro-equality actions in our state legislature in 2016. Please stay informed by contacting HRC Alabama organizer firstname.lastname@example.org.