Guest Blogger: Morgan Early has two gay dads and one lesbian mom. She has been a part of COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) for more than a decade, and is a proud board member of the Equal Roots Coalition in Los Angeles, CA. She is completely committed to the fight for equality for all LGBTQI people, and thrilled to be a guestblogger for Unite the Fight.
The phone only rang once before a kind gentleman answered: "Senator Pavley's Office."
For an instant I froze, thinking, "Wait, am I really qualified to do this?" Apparently it can be intimidating to call your legislator for the first time. So I just started talking.
"Hi, um, my name is Morgan and I'm just calling to voice my opposition to the HIV budget cuts that are...uh...that are being proposed...."
"Okay. And where are you calling from?"
"Uh, Los Angeles, area code 90048."
"Alright. We'll be sure to put you on record as opposed and pass it on to the Senator. Thank you so much for calling." His gratitude even sounded sincere.
That's it. I didn't have to be eloquent. I didn't need a good reason. In less than one minute I had taken a stand for an issue that needs a loud voice right now.
California is in a budget crisis, and HIV/AIDS programs are at risk of losing millions of dollars in funding. These cuts are truly scary, with proposals of up to $160 million in past weeks. Not only would this devastate state funding to healthcare programs, but it would also endanger the matching federal funds which would evaporate without the state contribution. People with AIDS/HIV, for whom health insurance is not a possibility, will literally lose their medication. And if they lose their medication, their risk of infection can increase 80% in the first month alone.
In the past week, there have been great efforts to significantly reduce the amount of budget cuts, and there is reason to believe that the amount in the new budget will be much lower than the February proposals. (A special thanks is due to Senators Darrell Steinberg and Mark Leno for their hard work on this issue).
But the fight isn't over. We must pressure our legislature and our governor to make HIV/AIDS funding a state priority, and ensure that the final budget decisions do not dismantle any aspect of HIV/AIDS healthcare.
ACTION: Using the link www.TheseCutsWontHeal.com where you can find your legislator's phone number. Every call made to a legislative office is put on record and presented to said legislator, and this is our opportunity to push this issue to the top of our government's agenda. As of 2007, AIDS is officially a global pandemic. We must pressure our leaders to pay more attention to this urgent global issue, and we can start by making it an urgent local issue.
Please call today, encourage your friends to do the same, and spread the word to flood these phone lines! You can find your legislator's information and a script for what to say at the website below. Happy calling!