It is clear that it is time to step it up another notch. Our collective efforts are obviously working spectacularly. Congress is hearing us. Tonight our amazing ally the Equality Federation told us that they have documented over 14,000 individual contacts to members of Congress. That’s just the contacts we know of. Tens of thousands of transgender people and our allies have reached into their hearts and mobilized to make the case for transgender rights and LGBT unity. Almost 300 organizations have chosen to stand with us and attach their names to our joint effort.
Another significant thing happened tonight. Up to this point, no member of Congress has done more to advance transgender rights in Washington, DC than Congressman Barney Frank. I am truly distressed when transgender or allied people misunderstand the great work and tremendous heart he thus far has put into this lifesaving work-lifesaving work for transgender and all LBGT people. But tonight we respectfully cannot disagree more with his proposed strategy, nor agree more that there is additional work to do.
This evening Congressman Frank took to the House floor to discuss transgender rights-this time with a message he correctly noted we would be less happy to hear. He reminded us that we have not yet finished the important education of Congress and the public that we diligently set about doing a decade or more ago. Mr. Frank’s words are a call to action, and we must step up our educational efforts with new found focus and intensity.
There are, no doubt, others who are disheartened by the Congressman’s words, but just that he spoke them, tells a story of our success and of the need for us to finish the education we have done so well together.
People do not ask for their civil rights when Congress is ready to give those rights happily and wrapped neatly. They ask for, they demand, their rights when they need them. And LGBT people need job protections rights now. Transgender people need job protection rights now. My friend Angela reminded me this weekend that ENDA is a matter of life and death. Transgender people around the country are still having their lives destroyed by the ignorance and discrimination that Congress can help us end. Some transgender people are losing our jobs, our homes, our families, and even our very lives to the despair, to the hopelessness that discrimination can lead to.
We will continue doing this education and we agree with Congressman Frank that we must continue stronger and with greater purpose.