Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Get To DC on 3/16 to Lobby for ENDA: Scholarships Available

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | February 22, 2010 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics
Tags: employment discrimination, Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, lobby day, lobby days, NCTE, transequality.org

The long-stalled Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is going to roll out shortly. Exactly when, and with what changes are uncertain. But it's coming, and Representative Frank has promised a vote by the end of March. LGBT people pour onto the Capital grounds at the National Equality MarchIf you value the need for job protections as I do, we must be prepared to lobby -- hard, fast and furious.

On Tuesday, March 16, there will be a lobby day specifically for ENDA in Washington, D.C.. LGBT people and allies from around the country who support ENDA will be there. I will be there. Will you?

It is particularly important to ENDA that people attend from the eight states in which Senators are on the fence. If you live in one of these states, you hold the fate of ENDA in your hands.

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota>
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia

This is too important to be limited to only middle or upper class people who can afford a ticket. If you are from one of these eight states, and you are a currently-unemployed LGBT person who is unemployed because of job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, I would like to help you get there. More info after the jump.

A policy conference, lobby training and phone bank will be held on Sunday and Monday, March 14 and 15. Registration is free. It's also not as expensive to get to DC and get a hotel room as you might think. If ENDA passes, how much would that be worth to you economically? More than the price of a ticket to DC, I assure you.

I did some research on the current prices available on Orbitz.com for flight plus hotels for two nights. Of course, if you only came for the lobby day itself, the cost would be less because it's one less hotel day.

  • Alaska: $707
  • Arkansas: $351
  • Florida: $327
  • Indiana: $291
  • North Carolina: $271
  • North Dakota: $853
  • Ohio: $309
  • West Virginia: $501

Is it worth spending a few hundred dollars to come to DC to lobby for ENDA? Well, let's put it this way -- we're closer than we've ever been before.

The House has enough votes. There are 223 likely yes votes - 5 more than a majority. There are also 29 unconfirmed votes, and probably at least half of those will go in our favor. Thus, the smart money is on passage by the House. If I were a betting person, I'd say the odds are 2 to 1 in favor. Here's the spreadsheet with specific info for each Representative.

The Senate, however, is missing a few votes. There are 55 likely yes votes - 5 more than a majority. But because the Republicans are filibustering everything, we may need 60 votes. That would mean we need 5 more votes. Where can those votes come from? That's where the list of states above come in. Senators in those states are unconfirmed, and may very well vote for ENDA based on their previous positions -- if people from their states talk to them in sufficient numbers. Here's the spreadsheet with specific info for each Senator.

Now, some readers have argued that no amount of lobbying will get us the necessary numbers. They say that we need to demand our rights and to talk to family, friends and neighbors until there is such a groundswell of support that Senators have to vote in our favor. But that's a long-term proposition -- years or decades. I believe that will happen eventually, especially as a new generation comes into office. But I'm not ready to give up on the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are now experiencing job discrimination for now.

If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you are unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, and you are from one of these crucial states, I think our community should help get you there. After all, you are the ones who need this legislation. I have talked to some people who are behind ENDA 100%, and ready to put their money where their mouth is.

If you would like to come to DC for the lobby day, and you currently reside in one of the states I listed above, and you are currently unemployed because of sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, send an email to me at jillian@bilerico.com describing your situation and how your presence in DC for the lobby day would make a difference for your US Senator. I cannot guarantee that we will be able to accommodate you, but I will make every effort to accommodate all those whose presence would make a difference. Please be as specific as possible in your email about how your presence would make a difference. Include your name, email address and telephone number. The subject line should read "DC LOBBY DAY ASSISTANCE REQUEST." Please send your email no later than March 5, 2010.

If any of those reading this would like to contribute money to the effort, please send me an email as well to jillian@bilerico.com.

I have been very moved by what Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director, has said about this:

There's never been a more important time to come. With House action on ENDA possible at any minute, the House may even take action on ENDA around the time of our Lobby Days--there may never be another opportunity like this to have a direct impact on this bill. Never before have so many members of Congress supported and sponsored pro-LGBT legislation; never before have we been so close to passage. We've got to do everything we can to finish this work.

Let's all get behind her and push.


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"Now, some readers have argued that no amount of lobbying will get us the necessary numbers. They say that we need to demand our rights and to talk to family, friends and neighbors until there is such a groundswell of support that Senators have to vote in our favor. But that's a long-term proposition -- years or decades. I believe that will happen eventually, especially as a new generation comes into office. But I'm not ready to give up on the thousands and hundreds of thousands who are now experiencing job discrimination for now."

Recognizing that lobbying is ineffective doesn't mean "giving up" on anyone. It simply means facing the reality that we invest our time, energy and money into efforts that have no evidence of effectiveness. It means accountability.

Others have suggested anger-inspired "demanding," which is even less effective that lobbying. In 2010, demanding is demeaning. It is NOT effective.

Based on Polling data for US States the anti-LGBT beliefs range from 42% of the population (Vermont) to 85% of the population (Mississippi).

You have identified the following important States for lobbying:

Alaska - 51% Anti-LGBT
Arkansas - 78% Anti-LGBT
Florida - 65% Anti-LGBT
Indiana - 68% Anti-LGBT
North Carolina - 76% Anti-LGBT
Ohio - 65% Anti-LGBT
West Virginia - 71% Anti-LGBT

The 9 Senators you suggest in your ENDA-Spreadsheet are possible YES votes are from those States:

AK - Senator Lisa Murkowski (R)
AR - Senator Blanche Lincoln (D)
AR - Senator Mark Pryor (D)
FL - Senator Bill Nelson (D)
IN - Senator Dick Lugar (R)
NC - Senator Kay Hagan (D)
ND - Senator Kent Conrad (D)
OH - Senator George Voinovich (R)
WV - Senator Robert Byrd (D)

These 9 votes are necessary to reach the elusive filibuster-proof 60 votes.

Senator Lisa Murkowski would appear to be the most likely to "change" here mind, but she is a recalcitrant Catholic on LGBT Issues. It's more about her, than even her constituents beliefs (only 51% Anti-LGBT). She has had plenty of time (11 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect her vote.

Senator Blanche Lincoln is an Episcopalian, which is possibly helpful, but she is in an election and not likely to appear more Liberal, especially in a State that is 78% Anti-LGBT. She has had plenty of time (17 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect her vote.

Senator Mark Pryor is a Southern Baptist, a member of The Family and not very bright (See Religulous) in a State that is 78% Anti-LGBT. He has had plenty of time (11 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect his vote.

Senator Bill Nelson is another Episcopalian, which would appear to be helpful, but he's also a member of The Family. Florida is 65% Anti-LGBT and the other Senate seat contested is in the 2010 mid-terms and therefore Nelson won't take a stand. He has had plenty of time (38 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect his vote.

Senator Dick Lugar is a Methodist (not helpful) in a State that is 68% Anti-LGBT. He is also a Republican. He has had plenty of time (33 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect his vote.

Senator Kay Hagan is a Presbyterian (possibly helpful) in a State that that is 76% Anti-LGBT. The other NC Senate seat is contested in the 2010 Midterms (not much of a contest), and she has supported the repeal of DADT and Hate Crimes, but stopped there. One would think she would support anti-discrimination efforts, but she has been silent about ENDA. She has had plenty of time (10 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect her vote.

Senator Kent Conrad is a Unitarian Universalist, which is helpful, even in a State that is 68% Anti-LGBT. He has supported anti-discrimination measures for LGBT persons and he is against gay-marriage, but doesn't support a "ban." He has had plenty of time (33 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect his vote.

Senator George Voinovich is a Catholic (an old one) who voted for and against Hate Crimes and is in a State that is 65% Anti-LGBT. He is retiring and his seat is contested in the 2010 Mid-terms. This is a inconvenient time for him to take a stand and the Republicans have probably asked him to remain vague or silent. He has had plenty of time (43 years) to be effected by lobbying. Lobbying will NOT effect his vote.

Senator Robert Byrd is a Baptist, not helpful, in a State that is 71% Anti-LGBT. Although he seems to be open to anti-discrimination, even for LGBT persons, he has a long career of hatred and bigotry. He talks out of both sides of his mouth, but the Bible is much more important than the Constitution. He has voted both for and against Hate Crimes. He's also very old (93 years) and in declining health. He has had plenty of time (57 years) to be effected by lobbying. Even without knowing whether or not he's is taking any anti-depressants (probably helpful), he will NOT be effected by more lobbying.

None of the above Senators will be effected by more lobbying. There are other considerations (for each of these targeted Senators) much more important than the reality of unprovable lobbying efforts. It would be a waste of time, money and hope to invest in more lobbying.

The only thing I haven't taken into account is the possibility that one of the 9 might get struck by lightning. Perhaps, they would see that as a sign from God and THAT could make a difference. But, it's a real long-shot.

If you are from one of the above States, don't waste your time and energy on lobbying. Talk to your neighbors, friends and co-workers. Lobbying doesn't change a Senators mind - only Polls can do that. Until the people in these States change, politicians will remain unchanged and unchangeable.

It's a very interesting analysis, Andrew, and I have enjoyed reading it. The only thing I really disagree with is your conclusion in each case that lobbying CANNOT be effective. Each of these legislators has indicated, at one time or another, support for various LGBT issues, and, in some cases, support for ENDA. They are not definite No votes, in my opinion. I understand your point that their religious values sway them towards the No, but there are some other factors pushing them towards Yes as well. I just don't see how you can definitively count them out. People like Sam Brownback - he's out. But Kay Hagan, who sponsored a sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination law in the North Carolina legislature? According to your analysis, there could be no possible way she would every do that -- and yet she did. How do you explain that?

I would concede that Kay Hagan could be supportive, but won't in the current political climate. Kent Conrad could also be supportive, but won't unless there is some political benefit. I don't see any.

Lobbying won't change their position (or their silence) right now. They know the votes aren't there, so they won't get involved in a losing effort. That's a much more motivating concern for politicians than lobbying or "hearing from constituents" will ever be. I wish that wasn't true - I wish they could be swayed. But, you're asking them to show leadership, not just support. If they thought there were possibly 60 votes, I think they might get on-board. In this group of 9 - I wouldn't expect any leadership.

Mary Landrieu is only a little unusual. I can't find anything that suggests lobbying has contributed to her position on ENDA. In her very first year in the US Senate (1997) she was a co-sponsor for ENDA and again in 1999, 2001 and 2003. She arrived in the US Senate already supporting ENDA. It wasn't lobbying.

Landrieu does NOT support full LGBT equality, but she is clear that she believes LGBT discrimination is wrong. She says "marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman." She is mostly pro-choice. She has taken a comfortable "half-Catholic" position. I believe she is a predictable Moderate Democrat and it's not surprising she continues to support ENDA.

Landrieu has a legacy of ENDA support. The targeted 9 (above) do not.

Oh, and who would have thought Senator Mary Landrieu from Louisiana would have come on board? And yet she is a co-sponsor of ENDA. How do you explain that, Andrew?

Sometimes, just sometimes, a politician will vote their conscience, even if their constituency is on the record against the issue they are voting for. It seems rare, and even rarer nowadays, but I can't see that it's impossible.

I suggest we go to our neighbors, talk to them and ask them to write or even join you in going to their senator's office on March 16th to talk about the need for this law. Grass roots lobbying like this is a form of a poll - the politicians know that there are many many people behind the issue for every citizen/lobbyist that shows up.

We need to join both activities - lobbying the politicians AND our neighbors, in order to gain allies, increase visibility and pass this vital bill.

I am from Michigan so I am not sure what good I would do.

While we need more lobbyers from the states I mentioned, Joanna, it is also important to let Representatives and Senators from other states know that their vote is important. We cannot sit back and assume that any legislators will vote for ENDA. You want Michigan legislators to vote for ENDA, you lobby them.

Both Senators from Michigan are co-sponsors of ENDA. Who exactly are you sending Joanna to lobby?

This is the problem with lobbying, despite overwhelming evidence that it is ineffective, we still send people to do it, all the while pretending it is useful.

This poor use of resources continues to harm our movement by wasting peoples time and providing false hope.

Andrew, I really don't understand your resistance to people lobbying their legislators. If you think numbers and personal contact never matter to a legislator, you are wrong. I have witnessed it personally. Personal contact with the people most affected by the bill can make a difference. Legislators are human beings, believe it or not.

If you're telling people to stay home and stay silent, what alternative do you have to offer? I see you mention polls. What is lobbying of not bringing the most important poll of all, the opinion of the constituent, directly to the legislator? And you can bet your last sock that the other side will be out in force, lobbying. If we stay home, they "poll" 100%.

Angrela Brightfeather | February 22, 2010 9:03 PM

The one big quedstion I have about all this is, What is HRC, NGLTF and other GLBT groups doing?

Is this a coordinated effort, or is the Trans community soley responsible if it fials or succeeds? Excuse me, if it succeeds and we get the vote, we may win, but we will never get any credit for it.
A sudden flurry from HRC and overwhelming media blitz will make them totally responsible for any win. But even so, seriously, is there an organized GLBT effort here that I have not heard about?

I'm in Hagan's state and I don't think HRC is lobbying her in NC or I might have heard about it.

Angela

HRC has been very active with regards to focus on an inclusive ENDA conversation, education and outreach there in NC.

For the past few years at least a dozen folks from NC have been in DC lobbying people like Hagen, Burr etc the first week in March. HRC's lobby day is March 4th 2010 and I'd expect 300-350+ people in DC on that day, with one of the key talking points being an inclusive ENDA.

NC has always had some transgender folks as part of their lobby group. The NC HRC steering committee, which includes transgender members, have also run local programs such as the Religion and Faith Gender Identity educational events, conducted in-district lobbying, in-district letter writing and other forms of outreach all that either focus on, or include, inclusive ENDA. Contact Maddie there in NC for more examples.

HRC, NCTE and other organizations have been for a very long time working together to get this bill out of markup and to a floor vote. Now we need the people in DC into all member offices to tell their stories once again.

Andrew - I've also enjoyed reading your analysis, well done. BUT I have to ask...is your "solution" actually just talking to neighbors, family, co-workers and friends? If so, don't you think we'll be waiting for a very long time?

I've seen your posts elsewhere. You are a bright and thoughtful man. What else ya got other than talking? I'm very interested to hear what you would do if you had the opportunity. Because talking just won't cut it. November is looming.

The first step towards a real, sustainable movement is being very honest and objective about our current tactics and our use of financial resources.

You will notice from the comments here that there are still many advocates of lobbying, yet they have NO evidence that it is effective. We have to come to terms with that reality. We must let go of ideas/tactics that are not effective.

I have suggested people talk to neighbors, friends and co-workers INSTEAD of politicians, because unlike politicians, they will actually listen.

There are several new ideas being developed that I believe will create our full equality in a few short years. The math confirms it. The difficulty is we have been at this for so long that we refuse to let go of what we have been "told" is effective.

My efforts have been focused on winning. Our dysfunctional movement is focused on the "struggle" or the "fight." I don't demean those efforts, but I am honest enough to admit they are not working. Most of Gay Inc. is not working. Politics is not working.

The LGBT Community is very creative, clever and crafty. I have been seeking ideas for the last year and the results look more than promising. They are being combined with an incredible amount of research and the development of several national media campaigns. It is not intended to be yet another incremental approach, but actually winning.

For the first time in my life I can see the path to victory. It is coming in 2010. During this year, as people become more honest about an elusive "political solution" and we begin to hold ALL tactics and organizations accountable, I think attention will be refocused on winning, but it has been a challenge.

Sometimes the effort to achieve something, becomes the something. That's where we are now. In the absence of leadership, ideas must inspire us and re-ignite a real, winnable movement. It looks encouraging. They will be launched when it is clear they are going to lead to our full equality.

Well, while you develop those ideas and until you actually decide to share them with us, I'm going to continue urging people to to WHAT I PERSONALLY HAVE WITNESSED WORK, and that is lobbying their legislators, telling their legislators their personal stories, and giving their legislators support for taking the right vote.

If I see you write again that "there is no evidence that lobbying is effective", then I'll know to ignore you as a crank going forward, because I just gave you my personal testimony, for the second time, that lobbying does work. It won't work all the time of course, because nobody has the power to persuade a legislator to vote their way all the time. But they are not likely to vote your way ever if you don't explain why you need them to.

Let us know when your magic wand is ready.

I understand your belief that lobbying works. I will concede it can't hurt, but that misses the point. We are at a significant crossroads for our movement. For decades we have sent sincere people on a path of guaranteed frustration - lobbying.

While you have a personal affection for lobbying, that simply isn't good enough. During the last few weeks we have seen how ineffective HRC (our main lobbyist) and countless other efforts FAILED to convince even one US Senator to change their minds and support DADT repeal. Not a single one.

We are also witnessing a tremendous amount of concern about the Democrats pick to succeed Evan Bayh. If lobbying was indeed effective, and Ellsworth won this Fall, we could put on the "full court press" and lobbying his support. But, we are beginning to realize it isn't that effective.

I think perhaps what you are not acknowledging is that positions on LGBT-related issues are not negotiable. Lobbying has it's place when there is something to bargain FOR and WITH. Healthcare Reform is a good example - there is a lot of money at stake and a great deal of negotiating has taken place and continues. It's just not the same with LGBT issues. Facts are trumped by beliefs, primarily religious beliefs and they effect either the Politician or their constituents. Lobbying a politician on our behalf is mostly a "call for leadership." We are pleading with elected officials to "do the right thing" despite their constituents beliefs. It could happen, but we haven't seen it in more than 30 years (the extent of my research) but I will concede that it could happen, but we rarely see ANY leadership in the US Congress, especially the Senate. They ignore lobbying in favor of polling.

So, no, your personal testimony isn't sufficient - in fact, it IS the problem. Lobbying is promoted without evidence and just based on a feeling that it works, because "who would want to send someone on a losing endeavor? We continue to hurt ourselves when we send supporters to do an ineffective task because just end up frustrated or angry. Once we lose them, they seldom return. This explains the fact that only 10% of our community even participates - they've been disappointed too many times. That must stop.

I've spent a good portion of my money seeking answers that are supported by facts and evidence. I have been fortunate enough to meet with dozens of people across the country who have been willing to hold every idea, tactic and strategy accountable. As a movement we must all do that. ONLY in that context, are finally able to see HOW and WHEN we can WIN.

You can refuse to honest and objective, or even accountable, that's your choice. But, our movement needs that now, more than ever before. You can dismiss me if you want, but you cannot dismiss the idea of accountability. It is inevitable and long overdue. If you don't believe that, just ask HRC.

When my efforts are complete and it is time to share them with the community they, too, should be held fully accountable. They should be able to stand a test of full scrutiny and analysis, something that has never been present in our community during 40 years of effort. They must be able to prove that they will work. They must include a verifiable timetable. It's is something that has never happened in our movement and it is absolutely critical NOW.

We need a way to WIN. HRC doesn't have that. In fact, all of Gay Inc. combined doesn't have that. Neither do the hard-working front line activists. There are many well-intentioned and even useful efforts, but there is no unified strategy to win. There will be soon.

I see lobbying more than simply trying to convince one's legislators to co-sponsor or vote for specific legislation. I also see the opportunity in lobbying in becoming 'visible' to one's elected officials, especially for those in the Transgender Community.

I am represented in the U.S. Congress by Todd Akin (R - Missouri) with whom in correspondence, he has stated quite firmly that he has no intention of voting for ENDA, as he sees no need for it, for a variety of (his) reasons. Still, I want to establish that transgender individuals reside in his constituency (duh!) and we think otherwise. With my planned participation in NCTE's Lobby Day, I hope to have an opportunity to talk with him in person.

I have and will have participated in state (Missouri) lobby days, and nothing makes one feel rather better , than to march down to State Representative Cynthia Davis'(yes, *that* Cynthia Davis) office and tell her that the Transgender Community wants her to help pass the Missouri Non-discrimation Act (MONA). She wasn't there (hiding behind the door?), but I left my business card and left a note for her to give me a call. ;)

So yes, I see the ENDA (any) Lobby day as a means in getting one's concern heard and is quite the productive tool in advocating.

Yes, I will be there!

Robyn Carolyn Montague
TransHaven Missouri, Inc.

Everyone appreciates your efforts. I will also concede that (at least initially) lobbying probably makes you "feel better." Todd Akin is a Republican, a Presbyterian and his constituents are 68% anti-LGBT. He knows you exist and doesn't need reminding. He is voting his beliefs and his constituents beliefs.

I would rather the people of Missouri knew you existed and were reminded frequently. Because until they know you exist and until they can understand and even appreciate you - the polling data will not change. Until then, Todd Akin will continue to care more about polls, than your equality.

Angela Brightfeather | February 23, 2010 1:15 PM

"NC has always had some transgender folks as part of their lobby group. The NC HRC steering committee, which includes transgender members, have also run local programs such as the Religion and Faith Gender Identity educational events, conducted in-district lobbying, in-district letter writing and other forms of outreach all that either focus on, or include, inclusive ENDA. Contact Maddie there in NC for more examples."

Meghan,

Thank you for that information, but I'm not sure I fully understand the relationship between Senator Hagan and HRC in NC.

As you may already know, as a fixture at lobbying efforts about ENDA for years now, I saw that last year Hagan appeared at the HRC dinner in Charlotte. Was she asked to committ to ENDA then by HRC people like Joe Solomonese who was there, and did she state anything besides the fact that she still had "concerns" about ENDA and what those concerns were and still might be?

Since HRC is doing a job on ENDA here in NC, I would appreciate knowing if Hagan has committed to anything and instead work on other Senators who need a push if she has already commmitted.

Knowing Maddie as I do, is she leading HRC's effort for Trans folks in ENDA here, since I know she is also involved in about 100 other things as well. If so, I have not been notified or asked to help in any coordinated effort to work with her on any meetings with Hagan or on any orgainzing to convince Hagan to vote for ENDA. I would think that if HRC is organizing to convince Hagan of anything, at least the Trans elements involved might also notify other activists to assist in their efforts and form some kind of coalition, which up to this time seems to be publicly invisible. I do not call two or three Trans folks from HRC, lobbying Hagan in DC as a coordinated effort to organize in NC. In other words, if as you say, HRC is doing something about Hagan, then what is it they have done and who else are they involving in their efforts? So far I have requested meetings with Hagan's office and talked to them on the phone a few times, but I am not aware of anyone even getting close to getting a foot in the door. How is HRC, Maddie or anyone coming with getting to sit down with Hagan and talking to her, right here in NC at her home office in Greensboro, and have they done so already?

" I saw that last year Hagan appeared at the HRC Dinner in Charlotte.

No support, no dinner. What am I missing?

Tamara Jeanne | February 23, 2010 10:03 PM

Jillian,

First I want to thank you for all of the very hard work that you have been doing to help get ENDA enacted into law. I know first hand just how difficult and how potentially discouraging and wearying a task this work can sometimes be. I have been very active myself in my home state of South Dakota, advocating and lobbying not only for ENDA at the federal level, but also for passage of an LGBT non-discrimination law at the state level as well.

For the past several months I've been working with the ACLU-SD and Equality South Dakota doing my part to help get ENDA passed. I was on the ENDA conference call last fall. During the last 3 months of 09, I led a grassroots letter writing campaign to my states two senators (Tim Johnson D & John Thune R) and one representative (Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin D) asking for their support on ENDA. I helped to assemble a panel of professionals, experts and trans-people from my state to take part in a conference call with the staff of Rep. Herseth-Sandlin, in which I also was a participant. I put together an information packet that was sent to the representative and senators offices countering each of the opposition's arguments against ENDA. This info packet relied heavily on the information that you have posted on your blog covering this topic.

So far, Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, who voted for the 07 ENDA and for the hate crimes bill last year, has continued to sit on the fence on the current ENDA. She is mainly hung up on the gender identity issue, but has officially stated that she is willing to be better educated about gender identity issues. For this reason, much of the efforts that I’ve been a part of have focused on her.

Senator Tim Johnson still has not officially stated that he will vote for ENDA, but it is thought that he will. We do need to keep the pressure up on him to be sure that he does come on board.

Senator John Thune is firmly in the no camp, which was to be expected. In the letters that he sent out in reply to the letter writing campaign he stated that sexual orientation and gender identity are malleable and therefore shouldn’t be protected by federal law like race, color and national origin are. Funny how he didn’t mention religion (which is of course can very malleable)

Like all of us who have worked so hard to get a fully inclusive ENDA passed, I was very disappointed when it stalled just before the holidays. My intuition told me that something was up and that something was likely to be gender identity. Sure looks like my intuition was right on that one. So now like the rest of us I’m waiting with bated breath, to find out just what changes will be made to ENDA and gender identity inclusion, once it finally moves to markup next month. Will gender identity be stripped out, or will the protections for GI be watered down? My suspicions are that the changes will likely be something having to do with the bathroom/locker room issue, which certainly is one of the opposition’s major points of contention. The other likely that may be with the exemption for religious organizations.

Since the first of the year, I have been focusing my attention on working for passage of South Dakota HB 1144, a bill that would have amended the states non-discrimination law to include: sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, military status and age to the existing law. This bill would have updated South Dakota's 40 year old non-discrimination law, which has not been changed since it was enacted in 1972 (the year I graduated for high school). Sadly last Tuesday, HB 1144 was killed in committee. During the testimony on the bill, the opponents used all of the same old tactics, lies and distortions in their arguments against equality that we’ve come to expect from them. They of course placed almost all of their emphasis on gender identity and the bathroom issues. They quoted out of context from the Transgender Law Center’s booklet “Peeing in Peace” as part of their arguments against the bill. During their testimony, the level of ignorance about gender identity issues was glaringly obvious by the number of times that they kept confusing the terminology, with one person repeatedly referring to gender identity as “sexual gender” as well as confusing other terms. A recording of the testimony from the hearing on HB 1144 is available to listen to at: http://sdpb.sd.gov/SDPBPodcast/2010/hhe21.mp3 the part with HB 1144 starts at about 1:54:00 on the time line and the opposition’s testimony starts at about 45 to 50 minutes later.

On the following day the South Dakota Equality Summit 2010 was held in the state capitol, Pierre. I was the only member of my states transgender community to take part in the summit. Originally I was only there as a delegate and was not on the itinerary as a scheduled speaker. The planed itinerary for the transgender segment of the summit was to be the showing of a couple of short films as a transgender 101 course to be followed by a question and answer session in which I was to be part of. However due to sound problems, the films were unable to be shown. So, on the spur of the moment I was asked the organizers of the summit to stand up and to speak on the topic instead. As I had not been expecting to be a speaker, I had not come prepared and thus my talk had to be totally adlibbed. Many of the people at the summit had never met a transgendered person before. My talk lasted for over an hour and based on the feedback and responses that I’ve since received from the other summit delegates, my talk was very well received and I managed to make a very positive impression on them. You can read a report on the summit meeting here: http://womenborntranssexual.com/2010/02/21/

In addition, I am working as a volunteer new media news correspondent for Trans-Ponder Media International, posting links to LGBT and transgender related news stories via the Twitter news feed on the www.Trans-Ponder.com home page.

As a transwoman living in a geographically large state with a small and rather politically conservative population, I know how bad the discrimination against gays, lesbians, Bisexuals and transsexuals can be. For example, in Rapid City, the largest city on the western side of the state, it’s a lot worse for the transgendered living there. Due to the number of threats of violence and several incidents, people who attend the transgender support group there have to have police protection provided at the monthly support group meetings as well as needing police escorts going to and from the meeting location. The situation is better in Sioux Falls where I live, as it is in much of the rest of the more populated eastern side of the state. The for the most part the threat of violence is not a major problem and gay bashing incidents are rare. However, job discrimination is still rampant, thought overt. This is especially so for a transwoman such as myself as I have had my share of problems and am currently unemployed. I was fired from my most recent job early in November and I’m certain that it was discrimination bias that was the real reason and not the trumped up reason officially claimed by the employer

Were I able to afford the cost of this trip, I would in be Washington on March 16th. I’d want be there to tell my states representatives in person why ENDA is so important. If I was living in one of the states that that the scholarships are being made available too, I would certainly apply for one.

ENDA is Next, ENDA is Now!
TJ

Angela Brightfeather | February 24, 2010 3:50 PM

"No support, no dinner. What am I missing?"

Andrew, what you are missing is "results".

You would think that before asking Senator Hagan to address an HRC dinner in Charlotte, NC last year, that HRC might just ask her how she feels about a few things like ENDA, DADT or SSM. Instead, she not only gets to be the main speaker, but she gets to sit out decision time on ENDA all these 12 months after her own constituents practically break down her proverbial doors in Greensboro, NC to get a meeting with her and all they get is the cold shoulder and 30 minutes of flack and red tape thrown up in their faces. That, plus a reflective letter that says absolutely nothing about her "concerns", whatever those might be, about ENDA.

HRC got no results and to add insult to injury it is my understanding that this pending HRC dinner being held here in Raleigh where I live, she will be an invited guest at this years HRC grand blowout at the new convention center, where a transgender person actually installed the plumbing. So if she has concerns about any gender issues in ENDA, let her say it, because she obvioulsy does not have any concerns with attending an HRC dinner in a place where the water closets in the ladies room were installed by a transgender person and where she will most likely be standing in front of a mirror, sharing bowl time, adjusting her makeup with about three or four transgender MtoF's standing on either side of her.

That's what your missing Andrew. The complete irony of the situation regarding the adversaries of ENDA due to "ick concerns" that revolve around bathroom issues, while they are their standing right next to Trans women in the rest rooms their using.

As for HRC, they have not collected on any good vibes they have bragged about over this past year when Senator Hagan attended their dinner. I predict they won't this year either.

In other words, despite all the good things that HRC committees and volumteers may have done last year in NC.....on the most important legislation facing the GLBT community right now, they have collected a large chunk of cash at the dinner for out of state use to take back to DC with them, but they haven't even gotten to sit down with Senator Hagan once with other activists in the state and have a meeting with her to convince her to vote for ENDA. That is a big fat zero gained for every GLBT person in NC right now. GLBT people get to pay for the party. But because HRC is spending all their time handing out equality stickers at various Pride Days and soliciting more funds for DC, instead of representing the people who are paying for the party. Gathering together and organizing GLBT group representatives to meet with Senator Hagan and address her "concerns" and capitalize on their political equity would be the thing for HRC to do. But many of us feel like we are getting the shaft in the long run with HRC and it's getting pretty boring.

This situation is almost comical if it wasn't so tragic and if so many GLBT people in NC were not getting fired from their jobs or just flatly turned down because they are GLBT.

Here is another irnonic thing for you Andrew. I would bet that if you looked at the record on how many times HRC representatives and lobbyists have actuall sat down in Senator Hagan's office in DC and talked to her about ENDA, you would probably be shocked to find out that after taking the money to lobby, they haven't cracked the barriers that Senator Hagan has regarding her "concerns" and gotten any kind of committment from her about ENDA.

Here is the last ironic thing. After all the pleading and cajoling and convincing and letters and just plain hard work put out by people on ENDA over the last ten years right here in NC, the largest, richest and most affective lobbying arm of the GLBT community, HRC, cannot convince a Democratic Senator who spends the time to sit down and have a formal dinner with them....then gets up to speak about all the good the Democratic Party is doing for them at that dinner, still is uncommitted on ENDA with a vote facing the Senate in another month or so. Mums the word from the good Senator.

HRC could be the heros to me that they should be. But in actuality they are no more than a bunch of party loving GLBT folks, who will be squatting on vitreous china thrones that an old trans person installed last year in the new Raleigh Convention Center. Then running back to DC with the money and without doing anything about getting Senator Hagan to vote for ENDA.

Now ain't that just a whole lot of "fecal matter" as we say in the plumbing business?

Well said, Angela. Too bad HRC is not listening.

The biggest problem we have with HRC (and other non-profits) is they don't have any incentive to actually achieve our full equality. In fact, the longer it takes, the longer they get paid, have parties and appear influential or important.

I wish "results" mattered. Until we decide to WIN, and make that the requirement, we will see more of the same - disappointment.

By now HRC should have learned that "gay friendly" isn't enough - it's a feel good misrepresentation. People either support full equality or they don't. HRC's scoring system is useless. A simple "yes" or "no" would be easier and more effective.

If HRC isn't giving free tickets to NC activists and hard-working volunteers for their big party, then they should make Kay Hagan pay for her meal - she hasn't done us any favors.