The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Resistance Squad has been burning up the phone lines in recent weeks to register LGBT voters in Georgia and make sure they participate in their state’s two upcoming Senate run-off races between Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue and their Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.
The Center joined forces with Georgia Equality(members pictured above), the largest LGBT rights advocacy organization in the Peach State, in an ambitious effort to reach approximately 750,000 LGBT voters.
With two phone banks already done, volunteers are still needed for the third—and final—phone banking shift happening this Saturday, December 19. Interested volunteers must sign up by noon on Friday, December 18, at lalgbtcenter.org/georgia.
“This is a remote phone bank that is only three hours of your time,” explains Maria Melo, the Center’s policy and operations manager. “It’s online, and it brings together LGBT people from Georgia, California, and around the country to fight for LGBT rights in Georgia.”
The Center’s Resistance Squad is a volunteer-based rapid response team launched in the months after the 2016 presidential election. The squad has worked to protect LGBT equality on issues related to immigration, health care, education, and foster care by participating in dozens of phone banks and numerous letter-writing campaigns.
This weekend’s phone banking is considered especially crucial because Georgia voters need to immediately request their absentee ballot in order to receive it and vote by mail or by drop-off in time for the January 5thelection day.
“We are calling them to urge them to vote and to give them the information they need to be able to vote. People are afraid to vote in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Melo. “The main thing is you have to request your mail-in ballot again at their county registrar office, and it is taking three weeks to get the ballots to people. We are less than a month away from the election, and they might not get their ballots in time to vote if they do not request one now.”
Melo wants volunteers to know they can absolutely make a difference by making these calls.
“This is the best holiday gift a volunteer can give to LGBT people in Georgia,” she explains. “It’s important for us in California to call LGBT voters in Georgia and to let them know that they really need to get their ballot in as soon as possible and to not wait it out. We need LGBT people in Georgia to vote before we go into the holidays.”
Phone bank callers remind voters that Georgia remains as one of three states without any statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Additionally, Georgia is one of five states with no protections for LGBT people in public spaces.
“The energy on these calls has been amazing,” Melo says. “In each of the first two phone banks, we had more than 30 people phoning—making more than 1,000 calls each time! Everybody was so excited to be building community from around the country.”
Among those who have been phone banking is Resistance Squad member Sarah Zimmerman who has personally made hundreds of calls in the last two weeks aside from the phone banking events.
“People in Georgia are getting overwhelmed with calls right now so they tend to be on the impatient side,” Zimmermann admits. “But they are still friendly and, occasionally, you will get somebody who did need the extra information. If they hear the LGBT part and still want to talk, it’s really exciting.”
For more information about the Center’s Resistance Squad, visit lalgbtcenter.org/resist.