First, note the date: 03-13-13. Those that know me know that I consider the number 13 my lucky number, ever since I married the love of my life on October 13, 2001. It's why there is a "13" in my email address.
I hadn't even noticed the date until my 10 year old daughter pointed it out to me this morning while I was fixing her hair. As soon as she told me, I smiled a great big smile, as I just KNEW right then and there that it was going to be a good day.
It was! In fact, it could rank right up there with the top 10 of Best. Days. Ever.
Stopping along the way to Little Rock to pick up Carla, my BFF in this fight, we strategized all the way there. At one point, she said that if we win today, we should all celebrate with purple milkshakes from The Purple Cow, (a restaurant). I thought that sounded like a splendid idea.
The three of us arrived at the capitol in time and once inside, my daughter and I headed for the restroom while Carla headed off towards room 171 where the senate judiciary meetings are held.
A few minutes later, my daughter and I made our way to room 171 to meet up with Carla and the others from ATAT. Just as I was reaching for the doorknob to open the door, I heard a man's voice call out behind me, "Ma'am... Ma'am!" I turned around and found myself face to face with Senator Jon Woods and saw that his hand was stretched out showing that he wanted to shake my hand. As I accepted his hand in mine, he introduced himself to me, although that SOOO was not necessary as I knew who he was. I told him I was honored to meet him. I was just SOOO surprised that he was talking to me. To me!!!
He clearly knew who I was. Maybe he recognized me from previous sessions, or maybe he recognized me because my daughter was with me and he'd seen the video. I'm willing to bet it was the latter.
Anyway, as we stood there, he explained to me that he was striking the language involving an offender with a victim under 18, which I told him was a huge relief to us. He then went to on explain that he was rewording a word or two about the remaining part of the bill.
I looked at him and said, "Well, if you're taking out the victim under 18 part, then, really, what is the point of the bill?"
He kinda hemmed and hawed, and seemed as if he really didn't know, but told me that he was pulling the bill for now and it would not be presented today.
I found Carla in the meeting room as she was distributing copies of a study she printed out from the Justice Policy Institute. The room was so packed with people who were there to testify against another bill on animal cruelty. We left the room and met our fellow advocates out in the hallway to talk.
Turns out, Carla had met with Senator Woods just moments after he spoke with me and he told her the same thing, adding that he wanted to call her about the bill. She gave him her business card. We do still have concerns about this bill as the purpose of the bill now is to attempt at some sort of compliancy with the Adam Walsh Act. We may still need to fight it, but at least NOT on the original issue.
My daughter is again hopeful that her daddy can petition to get off the registry in June.
(Please don't worry, my friends and fellow advocates, even if/when he does get off, I am not going anywhere. My fight has long ago not been just for my husband... if it ever really was...)
We left the capitol just before lunchtime and did, indeed, celebrate with purple milkshakes from The Purple Cow.
In the car on the way home, Carla and I speculated as to what could have happened to make this turn out the way it did. She recalled meeting a lawyer outside of room 171 last week and how that led to meeting other important people and having conversations with them and described it as being the first domino in a row of many to fall. I like that analogy. We know that many people emailed the senators complaining about this bill. Then, there is my daughter's video. Who knows which domino in the line was the one that made the whole thing fall, but in the end it doesn't matter. All of the dominos fell.
My point with this is that if we had done nothing, this bill would have passed without any fanfare and Arkansas sex offenders and their families would suddenly find themselves on the registry for life, with no hope of ever getting off no matter what they did.
But, the fact is that action was taken and that action created desirable results. For those of you out there who think you can't do anything to fight the laws in your state, you are sadly mistaken, and you will never know if you don't try. We are proof that the system CAN work in your favor if you are determined enough.
You just gotta let them know you mean business and that you're not going anywhere... And please, above all, DON'T wait until it's too late just because a bill that is being proposed won't affect you. We all know lawmakers take snippets out of our liberties one small bite at a time. If they bit off more than they could chew, they would never get away with it, but all these tiny nibbles DO wind up being part of a much larger bite as time goes on, and rather than resembling the bite of a mouse, looks more and more like the bite of a great white shark.
If your state is proposing ANY legislation targeting sex offenders, then you shouldn't be sitting there looking at your computer screen and just reading my blog. (Okay... you can read and THEN take action.)
You need to be writing letters and emails to those legislators and showing up at hearings and giving them a piece of your mind rather than just sitting there letting them take a bite of your ass.
Go get 'em, Tiger!
It works... It really does.