Equality Arizona

Lunch Panel: Influencing the Legislative Process

Live from the Equality & Justice ConferencePanelists included Tom Simplot, the first and only openly gay individual to serve on the Phoenix City Council; Arizona Representative Rebecca Rios; Supervisor Steve Gallardo, an openly gay Latino; Jim Bloom, of Arizona Public Service; Eric Gudino, of the Arizona Department of Transportation; and was moderated by Phoenix City Councilwoman, Kate Gallego.

Simplot began by giving credit to Arizona advocates and voters for recent successes legalizing marriage equality and defeating SB1062.

“We’re where we are today because of you felt passionate enough to take action. It was you who emailed, blogged, and tweeted. That made such a difference.”

Representative Rios stressed the importance of perseverance and keeping your guard up: “We’re dealing with a legislature that is not reflective of the people of Arizona. They’re there because of the people who vote in Arizona. We can’t change the players at the table until we all get involved.”

All panelists spoke to the importance of constituents connecting and forging relationships with lawmakers.

Getting involved in the election process is very important. Connecting with lawmakers and telling your story is an effective way to bring people to your side.

“It’s extremely difficult to look someone in the face after hearing their story and vote against them,” Rios said.

Energizing the youth vote is crucial, and registration is only half the battle.

“We have to get [young people] to the polls to vote. That’s how millennials are really going to have an effect,” said Simplot.

“If you want to change how things are done in the state of Arizona,” said Gallego, “let’s change the legislature. Let’s get rid of the folks who continue to put a black cloud over our state and embarrass Arizona.”