Editor's Note: Today's Guest Contributor is the Reverend Donna Tara Lee, a Gainesville, Florida out and proud M2F transgender activist.
I will be at the NEM (National Equality March) on October 11, proudly marching for GLBT civil rights. The purpose of the NEM is to get Congress to pass an omnibus civil rights bill- as was done for African-American civil rights in the 1960's. As noted by GLBT activist Cleve Jones, it will take way to long to go state by state, city by city to have GLBT rights approved nationwide.
The GLBT community needs our civil rights now!
What civil rights are we talking about?
Well, we are talking about the right to serve in the military. As of now, an OUT GLBT person cannot serve in the military in defense of our country. We are one of the few nations that has this prohibition. The Western European democracies and Israel all allow GLBT people to serve openly. And no one can deny that the Israeli military is one of the best in the world. No problem there in letting Gays serve openly...
There is another federal law right now that is totally discriminatory. That is DOMA, or the Defense Of Marriage Act. This law denies Gay persons the right to marry at the federal level and also says that if they are married in a state that recognizes Gay marriage, the federal government will not recognize it's legality. As of now, 6 states recognize Gay marriage. Unfortunately these married same sex couples cannot jointly file a tax return and are denied other numerous rights heterosexual couples have under federal marriage law. This is just plain out and out discrimination directed toward just one specific group of American citizens.
In many areas of the US, there is no legal protection for LGBT Americans. Twenty states have provisions in their state constitutions for civil rights. 30 do not.
Only 12 states have included transgender citizens in this protected status. These legal protections are now before congress in a bill called ENDA, which would give GLBT citizens employment protection. You could no longer be fired simply for being a GLBT citizen.
This bill does not go far enough. There are no provisions in this ENDA bill for protection in housing and public accommodations. LGBT citizens under this watered down ENDA could still be denied housing and public accommodations simply because they are LGBT.
It seems we need to take a page from the freedom riders and take to the buses. I'm ready for a road trip.
As we have seen from the brutal, hate-filled murder of Matthew Shephard, Ryan Skipper and many other LGBT people, we need hate crime legislation. We are the only group of American citizens that are constantly targeted for violence because of who we are that do not have hate crime protection.
Are legislators who claim to be pro family that hateful to us that they will not protect us? Are fundamentalist ministers so mistaken in their biblical interpretation that they call on others to hate us and call us damned because we love the same sex or where born into the wrong body? Whatever happened to the 2nd part of the great commandment, to love thy neighbor as thyself?
There are other reasons why I am marching. One is that after serving my country for 35 years in a civilian capacity as a federal worker and still being productive as a substitute teacher, I feel that there should be no discrimination towards me.
I am a good person and a good citizen and I deserve the same civil rights as all my fellow Americans.
I am a transgendered post-op male to female American citizen. I am also a transgender activist.
I totally support the National Equality March. I am a member of the NEM National Steering Committee. I will be one of the participating ministers in the ecumenical service we are having in Washington the night before the march.
I do so because we are all children of a divine entity that loves us all for who we are, straight or gay.
That's why I am marching. Won't you join me?