It was hot weather when I met Senator Tom Duane at a picnic last summer up in Sullivan County, New York, where my partner and I live. I shook his hand and asked him about the New York State Gender Expression Non-Discrimination bill, which LGBT leaders, including Senator Duane, have been promising to pass since 2002, when they enacted SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination bill. That bill didn't include gender identity or expression, and when transgender supporters expressed their displeasure, we were treated to a lecture on thinking about someone other than ourselves and the importance of "incrementalism."
At that picnic, amidst the potato salad and the flies, right after the dog show, I told him about my work on transgender issues. He acted very pleased to meet me, asked me to email him to discuss the issues, said he would like to talk to me further about them, and to please include my phone number. I did email him, several times. He never responded. I'm still waiting for that phone call.
It's pretty clear to me that Senator's Duane interest in this subject is limited at best, and especially with the New York State marriage bill hanging fire in the Senate halls, I am not feeling hopeful.
I understand that Empire State Pride Agenda and other organizations are making a push for people to make calls today to support the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) legislation that has been passed by the New York Assembly. They say it has enough support to be passed by the Senate. They tell me to call Tom Duane and to tell him to bring GENDA to the Senate floor and pass it. They say we're in the final stretch and it is vital that Senator Duane hears from me.
Senator Duane, I'm still waiting for that phone call from you. I'll give you a ring today. I encourage the rest of you to make that phone call too.
You can reach Senator Tom Duane at (518) 455-2451. If you're from New York State, you can find your State Senator's Albany phone number here. The full Senate list is here.
GENDA would amend the state's human rights law to include anti-discrimination protections based upon gender identity and expression, providing crucial civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers by banning discrimination in housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and other areas of everyday life.
ESPA says that more than half of the Senators indicate their support for GENDA, so that it has enough votes to get it passed in the Senate if it comes to the floor for a vote. And guess who holds the power to bring it to the floor for a vote? And how likely is that to happen with Senator "Oh, I'm so interested in your transgender issues" Duane in charge? Better pick up that phone. Because it ain't gonna ring.
Reach Tom Duane at (518) 455-2451. Remember to give them the number of the GENDA bill (S.2406).
ESPA says you should tell them about the broad support for GENDA statewide, including:
* 78% of New York voters
* Unions representing 2.1 million working New Yorkers
* 27 Fortune 500 companies based in cities like Rochester, Corning, New York City and White Plains.
* 344 clergy and lay leaders, representing over 20 different denominations
Senator Tom Duane: I've been waiting for my phone call for eight years now. If you're not going to call, them I'm calling you.