Today I spent quite a bit of time explaining (re-explaining) to the media and others that the current ENDA situation is not one of pragmatic people versus crazy idealists (not that there is anything wrong with being either practical or idealistic). No one is demanding that transgender people get ours or no one gets anything. The greatest likelihood in fact is that this year will end with no ENDA protections becoming law to protect anyone. We will all need to work together to pass the bill in the House, even harder in the Senate and then somehow overcome a likely veto by the White House.
Additionally, gender identity is not synonymous with transgender and sexual orientation is not synonymous with gay and bi people. Just as trans people face discrimination based on sexual orientation, gay people face gender identity discrimination. Yesterday, five legal organizations (Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Transgender Law Center, GLAD, and the ACLU) issued a joint statement (www.lambdalegal.org) that explained this and other legal shortcomings of a sexual orientation-only ENDA.
A split ENDA hurts all LGBT people-whether you are pragmatic, idealistic or, like most of us, both.
Today (Thursday) was another very fast paced day in Washington and around the country. Congressional offices are definitely hearing from everyone and it is just as definite that everyone’s great work is really impacting things. Members of Congress and their staffs are telling us that they are getting calls and visits from people like you-people who live in their districts.
The number of organizations who have publicly proclaimed their support for transgender people and our desire to pass the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 2015) was up at about 180 the last time I checked sometime this afternoon. Earlier today, we blew past 2,500 signatures on the petitions that we co-produced with the Transgender Law Center. People are really enthused and turning that enthusiasm into action. And it’s working.
One side effect of all of this sudden somewhat unexpected activity is that our expenses have gone up tremendously. Suddenly we are paying for meals for volunteers, lots of taxis to Capitol Hill, consultants, cell phone minutes. This coming week, it looks like there will be some travel costs and hotel rooms for specific people who we need to have here in DC. All in all, we think that this may cost us an additional $10,000-15,000–all of which is very difficult for a small organization like NCTE. Though so many people are doing so much, your financial support would also be very helpful. One donor sent us $150–one dollar in honor of each of the LGBT organizations who has stepped up in solidarity to support transgender people and our effort of keep ENDA inclusive of all LGBT people. If you would like to make a donation, please go to our website at http://nctequality.org/donate.html. It would help a lot.