By Chris Miller, President Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus
Saturday is a day most of us use to run errands, complete household chores or maybe sleep-in after a long, hard work week. Not this past weekend! on Saturday, January 29, 2001, over 800 Nevadans gathered at the Grant Sawyer building to voice concerns over the state's budget and its $2 billion plus shortfall. The decrease in revenue, along with a Governor and several Republican legislators who have pledged "no new taxes", have combined for a crisis, the likes of which, have never been seen in this state.
As the President of the largest statewide LGBT Democratic political organization, I was asked why the budget fight is so important to the LGBT community. Let me share some information.
1. Education. Many LGBT Nevadans are have families and children. Families send their children to public schools or to state colleges and universities. Although Nevada schools rank near the lowest in the US, cutting salaries, services and per student spending will only make this crisis even more drastic. The other issue is the education level of the LGBT community. Let's face it, gays strive to be educated. Budget cuts effect college tuition, class availability and even department availability.
2. Social Services. Everything from HIV/AIDS funding to the Nevada Commission on Equal Rights are part of the services that are being reviewed for budget cuts. The Nevada Commission on Equal Rights was almost entirely dismantled during the special legislative session last year. It is an important agency for all Nevadans, especially for LGBT Nevadans. As for HIV/AIDS funding, cutting services to this segment of the state could mean the difference to life and death.
3. Public Safety. Police, Fire, NHP, etc. All of these agencies are here to protect and to serve ALL citizens. Cuts to these agencies could be devastating to this state's crime rate that snowballs into a variety of issues including increases in insurance rates.
How do we have our voices heard? First, pay attention. Know the issues and the options to fix them. Attending events similar to Saturday's Town Hall is a great way to see and share passion on the items that are on the 'chopping block'. Contact the Governor's office, your Senator or Assembly person to let them know, as a constituent, how you feel. Lastly, follow us. The Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus (NSDC) is determined to keep the LGBT community informed on budget issues along with social legislation ranging from employment and housing protections to hate crimes and anti-bullying laws.
You can follow us on this blog or on facebook and twitter.
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/NV-Stonewall-Dems/103381189740388
Twitter - @nvstonewalldems
Nevada Stonewall Democratic Caucus - The Grassroots Voice for Equality In Nevada!