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Tennessee Equality Project educates citizens, provides lobbying strategies

TEP LogoGet a good night’s sleep, dress properly, be courteous, be on time, and be prepared. This sounds like advice for a job interview, but according the the folks at Tennessee Equality Project, it’s also good advice for preparing to meet one of your state legislators, which was why they were in town last Thursday.

TEP is gearing up for its annual “Advancing Equality Day on The Hill” event. The event will start on February 18 at 3:30 PM with a candidate training at the Red Restaurant at the Tribe Bar on Church Street. The candidate training is free and open to the public, and is meant for those who may be interested in or who are already running for state office. After the candidate training there will be a reception in the small room at Tribe starting at 6PM. The event continues the next morning with a breakfast meeting at the Rymer Art Gallery on 6th Avenue, where the Honorable Sherry Jones will deliver the keynote address. TEP will then relocate outside the office of Mr. Speaker Naifeh’s office while participants head out to meet with their legislators for the day.

Jenny Ford, TEP’s lobbyist has the following recommendations for visiting a state legislator:

  1. Make an appointment.
  2. Always arrive slightly early.
  3. When you go in great the Legislative Assistant. Tell the assistant your name and that you have an appointment. Don’t sit until invited to do so. Remember, the LA is the guardian of the gate. Would you really want to make St. Peter mad at you as you try and enter the pearly gates?
  4. Always have your notes and talking points ready in advance. Legislators are happy to meet with constituents, but we don’t pay them enough to listen to incoherent rambling on top.
  5. Any time a legislator enters a room, stand up. They are elected officials and should be show the respect of their office.
  6. When meeting with the legislator, remember to introduce yourself to them. The LA knows who you are, but chances are your legislator won’t remember you from the cheap coffee they had for breakfast that morning.
  7. Make your points, thank them for the meeting, and keep it on topic. It bears repeating.

TEP also has general recommendations for any time you visit the State Capitol, no matter what your reason for visiting. Most of these should be common sense, but experience dictates they’re not, so here goes:

  1. Dress appropriately. The State Capitol is a place of business and very important business at that. Leave your purple hair dye and t-shirts at home. By appropriate dress, we mean business casual. Gentlemen, that means a shirt and tie. Ladies, it means something you can wear hose with. A good rule of thumb: would you wear it while asking Bill Gates for a job? If you answered no to that, back to the closet.
  2. Have a photo identification with you. This is post 9/11. Security will not let you in if you do not have ID.
  3. If you get lost, ask for directions. The legislators, assistants, and state troopers will be more than happy to direct you in the proper direction.

The Tennessee Equality project is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Tennessee. It exists to promote equal rights for Tennesseans regardless of sexuality. The views of TEP do not necessarily reflect the views of the author, Clarksville Online or its staff. For more information please visit TEP at their website

James Butlerhttp://
James Butler is a student at Austin Peay State University pursuing a double major in both Chemistry and French. On campus he is particularly active with the Gay Straight Alliance and also somewhat less so with the AP Playhouse. Politically, he is often described as a libertarian, although he would personally affiliate himself with Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

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