Has Sen. Diane Black suddenly decided to stop meeting lobbyists?
With a series of audio reports on the Liberadio(!) website, Mary Mancini paints a picture of democracy in action--Tennessee style. Any oily lobbyist with a checkbook can waltz into any legislative office at any time of the day or night and receive a full hearing. But when gays and lesbians and their supporters tried to lobby the legislature yesterday like any other citizens of this great land, their elected representatives often were less than alert and receptive listeners.
From the sound of it, a group of her constituents had to chase Sen. Diane Black around the Legislative Plaza to meet with her. Black, the Senate Republican caucus chair, originally agreed to meet but then canceled.
"She canceled the meeting and said there was really no reason to meet because there was nothing new to hear and there were no common stances with anything we had to discuss," Anne Miller tells Mancini. "I've never done this before. I was just excited to come up and exercise democracy. I feel really put off by her that she's not interested in hearing about issues. Children, families are pretty important where I live. I'm not sure what her motives are in not wanting to speak to us."
Susan Brown was so determined she plopped down in a chair in Black's office to wait for her.
"When she came in the door, she came straight at me and she said, 'I remember you' and she shook my hand. She said there's not any need in us meeting. I cannot agree with anything that you're dealing with. ... It was a very short and sweet meeting."
Later, a group did manage to persuade Black to meet for five minutes. As Maria Brewer recounts, Black told her constituents, "I really don't think there's a reason to meet because I know what y'all are going to say."
Black then took the time to explain her position in favor of banning adoptions by unmarried couples. "She said her concern for the children is that they're going to be put in a stressful environment where they're going to have questions about their sexuality and a confusing situation," Brewer says. ... "She didn't want to deal with the bigger picture. She wanted to deal with the things that she felt like she could pick apart."
A group of four constituents met with Sen. Paul Stanley, one sponsor of the gay adoption ban.
"It was basically the same meeting that we had last year when we talked about the very same issue," one participant tells Mancini. "He's made up his mind how he wants to vote on this. He has a very definite viewpoint on this, and I think he will continue to bring it up until it passes. He makes it very clear. The basis of this is his evangelical Christian upbringing. His tradition, his belief system. The hetereosexual male-female married couple is the ideal situation for children. He's made that very clear."
One of the men says he's trying to adopt with his partner. "We have finished all the background checks, all the paperwork, all the planning. We're on the list now. We're waiting for the birth mother to choose us from a list of other candidates. We've been approved by every state agency. We had to have an FBI background check. We passed all those thing with flying colors. If ours isn't started by July 1st (the effective date for Stanley's bill if it's passed), we wouldn't be able to adopt in Tennessee."
Mancini reports Rep. Stacey Campfield was a no-show for his appointment. Then he rescheduled and missed that meeting too.