If you've kept up with Tennessee Equality Project on Facebook, you know we've been going door-to-door in conservative parts of the state talking about the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act.
Here's why. We wanted to know where the people of Tennessee stand on the bill. It's not a comprehensive poll, but it still gives us important data. Second, it gives us the chance to find supporters who will contact their own legislators in areas where we might have few members of our own. Third, it gives our members another political skill.
Data: Without canvassing, we are at the mercy of polling organizations or guesswork when it comes to the question of whether Tennesseans support discriminatory bills. We can't guarantee polls will be conducted on the issue or that they'll be accurate. Canvassing gives us real data to develop a real sense of people's views. I should note that we picked conservative districts and middle-of-the-road voters deliberately to get out of our progressive bubbles and echo chambers.
Finding supporters: We hoped, but didn't know for sure, that we would find supporters of our position on the bill when we began. It's important that legislators in conservative districts hear from their own constituents. So we started in Manchester and Maryville this past weekend and were pleasantly surprised that most of the people we talked to are opposed to the bill. Yes, opposed. We definitely found people who support it, but most people we've talked to in person so far think it's a futile and expensive effort. AND they were willing to tell their legislators just that!
Gaining skills: Most of our canvassers so far had never gone door-to-door for politics before this weekend. Many were nervous and I'm sure they had their doubts. I think they found that it was easy and they were also encouraged by the response. They will now be ready to canvass voters on other issues and for political candidates. When our movement has more skilled canvassers, we're obviously stronger.