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On Wednesday,  April 22, PROMO's annual Equality Day in Jefferson City takes place where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and ally Missourians descend on the state capital to lobby their elected representatives on issues of concern to the LGBTQ community.
 
But whether discussing the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act, bullying in schools, or voicing opposition to anti-LGBT legislation, there's some do's and don'ts to the process. So in case you missed one of the PROMO trainings in a city near you, here's some helpful hints from the League of Women Voters
 
Know Yourself 
 
Be aware of your own personal prejudices or biases. Such knowledge will enable you to maintain objectivity by anticipating your own response in a given situation. 
 
Know Your Organization
 
If you are speaking on its behalf, you will want to be a credible representative. Be fully aware of your organization’s positions and their development as well as the relationship it maintains with other organizations and with the legislature. 
 
Know Your Legislator
 
 Make an attempt to understand the basis for your legislator’s positions which may include his or her:
 
• record on related legislation and/or votes (be aware of any prior favorable commitment to your cause); 
• party, position, and tenure in legislative and political power structure; 
• constituent pressures; 
• general predispositions; 
• responsiveness to various kinds of personal interviews (sensitivity to legislative attitudes about approach is essential). 
 
Your appearance as an objective individual, able to deal sympathetically with the concerns of both sides, will be enhanced. 
 
Know Your Issue
 
Phrase the argument in your own words. Don’t be surprised if it appears you are more knowledgeable than the individual you are lobbying. No one can be expected to address every question or matter of concern regarding an issue, however so don’t hesitate to admit your lack of knowledge on a particular point. Be willing to pursue the answer and report back. 
 
Know Your Opposition 
 
It is preferable to anticipate the opposition and answer their arguments positively before those arguments surface publicly
 
Some DOs and DON’Ts for Lobbyists 
 
DO  
 
Address your Senator or Representative properly. 
• Identify yourself immediately at each contact. Public officials meet too many people to remember everyone. 
• Know the status of the legislation. Refer to a bill by number whenever possible. 9 Use your own words. 
• Be brief and explicit, courteous and reasonable. 
• Establish your own credentials or expertise on the subject of legislation under consideration. 
• Give legislators succinct, easy to read literature; highlight important facts and arguments. Their time is limited. 
• Write the chair or members of a committee holding hearings on legislation in which you are interested if you have facts that you think should influence his or her thinking. 
• Get to know legislative staff and treat them courteously. Their cooperation can make or break your chances to reach the legislators themselves. 
• Always keep off-the-record comments confidential. 
• Write to say you approve, not just to criticize or oppose. 
• In a letter include your address and sign your name legibly. 
• Keep the door open for further discussion in spite of any apparently negative attitudes. 
 
DON’T 
 
• Don’t begin, “As a citizen and tax payer” (your elected representative knows we all pay taxes). 
• Don’t apologize for taking his or her time. If you are brief and to the point s/he will be glad to hear from you. 
• Don’t be arrogant, condescending or threatening toward legislators or their staff. 
• Don’t argue or back recalcitrant legislators into a corner where they take a definite position against you. 
• Don’t make notes of a conversation while talking to a legislator. 
• Don’t send copies or form letters unless you have taken the time to include a personal note.
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