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Former NCTE Board Member, Amanda Simpson, appointed to Department of Commerce
Amanda Simpson, who has served on NCTE's Board of Directors for the past 3 years, has been appointed by the Obama Administration as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. She'll be working in the Bureau of Industry and Security. Read on for full statement.
Her appointment has generated considerable interest from the media. Our favorite--and the one that puts this best into perspective--is Rachel Maddow:
David Letterman contributed to the controversy with a demeaning joke. Read GLAAD's blog for more information, to view the clip and to take action and let CBS know how you feel.
LGBT Americans Outraged at Delay in Basic Job Rights
In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now. At a time when our government is deeply focused on the critical issue of employment, it is inexcusable to delay action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Each and every job lost to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity needlessly compounds the unemployment challenges facing our nation. We call on Congress for the immediate passage of ENDA.
For decades now, we have called upon Congress to pass legislation to address the basic right of LGBT people to work free from discrimination at our jobs, and now Congress tells us we must wait another year. In 29 states, it remains legal to fire people based on sexual orientation and in 38 states, discrimination based on gender identity remains legal. In failing to take swift action to pass ENDA, our government allows unfettered bigotry to go unchecked, leading to the loss of jobs, fear in the workplace, economic instability, and personal hardship, while allowing employers to lose competent experienced workers. ENDA is urgently needed by our communities.
The majority of Americans consistently state their support for employment protections and voters have affirmed similar state and local measures. There is absolutely no reason for Congress to continue to delay this non-controversial bill or drop LGBT issues to the bottom of their agenda. We will not be denied basic rights any longer. Nothing is more important than protecting peoples’ jobs so ENDA must pass now. Further delays are absolutely unacceptable.
Matthew Coles & James Esseks, Co-Directors, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project
Terry Stone, Executive Director, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Toni Broaddus, Executive Director, Equality Federation
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Lee Swislow, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Jarrett Tomás Barrios, President, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Rachel T. Niven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality
Earl Fowlkes, President/CEO, International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal
Christian Berle, Director, Log Cabin Republicans National Office
Sharon J. Lettman, Executive Director/CEO, National Black Justice Coalition
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Rebecca Fox, Executive Director, National Coalition for LGBT Health
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats
Gregory Varnum, Executive Director, National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Jody Huckaby, Executive Director, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National
Jo Kenny, Interim Director, Pride at Work AFL-CIO
Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
Additional organizations may be added.
We Remember: The Day of Remembrance, 2009
(November 20, 2009) On this, the eleventh annual Day of Remembrance, we are part of a global movement to honor those who have died. We mourn our fallen sisters and brothers who have become the victims of hatred and prejudice and we commit ourselves to doing what it takes to prevent others from joining their ranks. We pause to acknowledge the loss we all suffer because these people are no longer sharing their gifts, their laughter, their struggles, their work and their lives with our world. We decry the many forms of discrimination—racism, sexism, economic injustice, ageism, and so many more—that compound the transphobia and homophobia we face and make some among us even more vulnerable to violence.
We must continue to state loudly and clearly that transgender people will never willingly be relegated to the status of victim. Transgender people and our families, friends and allies are standing up effectively, working for public policies that emphasize both the need to prevent these horrific crimes as well as holding accountable those who commit them. We are speaking out daily, educating law enforcement, co-workers, family members, policy makers and our neighbors about the realities of our lives and helping transform their prejudice into understanding. We are advocating boldly for anti-discrimination laws that will allow transgender people to get and keep jobs, improving the quality of our lives and keeping us safe.
Today we also particularly want to thank everyone who has worked for so many years to organize and host the Transgender Day of Remembrance events around the country, providing a space for our grief and our resolution to end this violence. We also recognize those who engage in anti-violence work, seeking real solutions to the conflicts in our world and providing comfort to those harmed by violence. We honor everyone who worked to make it clear that violence is never an acceptable answer to differences and will not be tolerated in the places we live and work.
There is still so much to do. Tonight, let our pain at these terrible losses fuel our determination to continue our work building a world that is safe for transgender people to live, to thrive, and just to be.
ENDA Mark-up in the House Will Take Place November 18
Note: ENDA Markup Postponed; click to read an update and more details
(November 12, 2009) Today, Chairman George Miller (D-CA) of the House Committee on Education and Labor announced that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will take its next steps when the committee marks up the bill next Wednesday, November 18; this is one of the final steps that precedes a vote by the full House. House leadership is optimistic about the bill that would ban from the workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, although they stress the importance that advocacy efforts for ENDA remain strong. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is the principle sponsor of the bill, joined by 189 co-sponsors, and along with Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) has been a strong champion of this legislation.
The Senate is also considering the bill and held a hearing in committee last week on the matter. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-WA) is the lead sponsor and strong advocate for the measure. When asked at a press conference last week whether there was any chance that gender identity would be stripped out of the bill, he answered simply, "No."
But, even with these strong optimistic signs and committed leaders, members of Congress still need to hear loud and clear from our communities. The radical right is already in full swing on this fight, energizing their base to call and put pressure on Congress, spreading their untruths and stereotypes about who we are. Their voices must not outnumber ours. It is up to us to communicate the urgency of this bill, and to do that we must pick up the phones and call.
"Never before in the history of our movement has there been a time when it is so critical that we all are active advocates for transgender rights. It really is that important," notes Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "We are at a moment when our rights are not guaranteed but they are within our reach if we speak up about the urgent need for the employment protections contained within ENDA. We need you to take action."
NCTE is participating with a wide range of other LGBT groups in the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights call in days in support of ENDA. Our day to call is Wednesday, November 18. We hope you'll be a part of this important effort and you'll encourage your friends to call.
For more information, read the text of the Action Alert
HIV Travel Ban to be Lifted
President Obama Announces New Rules Today
For more than a year, advocates and government officials have been working to end the 22-year-old travel ban on people with HIV entering the United States. Today, President Obama finished the process, announcing the new rules as he signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act of 2009, noting, “If we want to be the global leader in combating HIV/AIDS, we need to act like it. And that’s why on Monday my administration will publish a final rule that eliminates the travel ban effective just after the New Year.”
In 1987, the US Public Health Service first issued the ban. That same year, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) added HIV to a list of travel restrictions, approved unanimously by Congress. In 1993, Congress added the HIV ban to immigration laws, further strengthening the policy. Repeal efforts throughout the years failed until 2008 when Congress voted to end the ban and then-President Bush signed the measure.
“Transgender people, along with other vulnerable populations, are particularly at risk for HIV and AIDS. We applaud this long-overdue change in federal policy,” remarked Mara Keisling, the Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our government policies should be grounded in science, not in myth. We know that travelers with HIV are not a threat to our country and there is no reason to bar them from entry.”
For more information about transgender people and HIV/AIDS, visit the Center for Excellence for Transgender HIV Prevention.
It's Official: First Federal Law to Protect Transgender People
President Obama has just signed into law the very first protections for transgender people in US history: The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
“This is a powerful day as the United States government, for the first time, stands up and declares that violence against transgender people is wrong and will not be tolerated in our country,” stated Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Every day transgender people live with the reality and the threat of personal violence, simply because of who they are. This must end and it must end now. The new law provides for some vital first steps in preventing these terrible crimes as well as addressing them when they occur. At NCTE, we are dedicating this day to all those who have been victims of hate-motivated violence as well as recommitting ourselves to ending the epidemic of hate that continues to damage our communities and our country.”
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will have a number of positive impacts:
- It will help educate law enforcement about the frequent hate violence against transgender people and the need to prevent and appropriately address it;
- It will help provide federal expertise and resources when they are needed to overcome a lack of resources or the willful inaction on the part of local and/or state law enforcement;
- It will help educate the public that violence against anyone, including transgender people, is unacceptable and illegal.
Most importantly, this law marks a turning point for the federal government, by including positive protections for transgender people and taking seriously the need to address the discrimination that we face.
NCTE will be holding a conference call tonight to bring you up to date about what this new law will do for transgender people and how it fits into our larger goals of transgender equality. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions. We also invite you to light a candle tonight; we have held so many vigils for victims of violence. Tonight, let us light a candle as a sign of our commitment to ending violence and in honor of this new day in transgender history. Let us have a Vigil for Victory.
There is another absolutely critical bill in process in both the House and the Senate: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which we hope will soon follow the Hate Crimes Act and become law. For that to happen, we all must be involved. ENDA would be an important way for transgender people to address the rampant discrimination so many face daily in the workplace. Tonight, we'll also give you updates about what is happening right now with ENDA, what is ahead in the coming weeks and what you can do to help secure job protections for transgender people.
VICTORY: Hate Crimes Bill Passes;
First Federal Bill to Protect Transgender People
(October 22, 2009, Washington, DC) In an historic move, the United States Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which will be the first federal law to include gender identity and transgender people. Once signed by the President, this law will add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to the categories included in existing federal hate crimes law and will allow local governments who are unable or unwilling to address hate crimes to receive assistance from the federal government. President Obama has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.
"Transgender people have been waiting so many years for assistance from the federal government in addressing the rampant and disproportional violence that we face," noted Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Today we move one step closer to our goal of ending violence motivated by hatred. Everyone in America deserves to live free of fear and of violence. We know that the dedicated leadership and hard work of Senator Kennedy and Representative Conyers and many other legislators made the passage of this bill possible. Words can't really express our gratitude for their commitment to equality for all people."
In the past, federal law has only mentioned gender identity in a negative context, such as explicitly excluding transgender people from the Americans with Disabilities Act. The passage of the hate crimes bill marks a significant turning pointfrom the days in which the federal government contributed to the oppression of transgender people to today when federal law takes action to protect our lives.
The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act will have a number of positive impacts. First, it will help educate law enforcement about the frequent hate violence against transgender people and the need to prevent and appropriately address it. Second, it will help provide federal expertise and resources when it is needed to overcome a lack of resources or the willful inaction on the part of local and/or state law enforcement. Third, it will help educate the public that violence against anyone is unacceptable and illegal.
Transgender people continue to be disproportionately targeted for bias motivated violence. Thirteen states and Washington, DC have laws which include transgender people in state hate crimes laws.
Obama's HUD Proposes New Policies, Study
Would ban discrimination based on gender identity
(October 21, 2009, Washington, DC) The National Center for Transgender Equality praises the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for announcing today that it will ensure that its programs are available to all, including LGBT people. Today’s announcement is historic, since HUD is the first federal agency so far to officially propose guidelines that would explicitly address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The evidence is clear that some are denied the opportunity to make housing choices in our nation based on who they are and that must end," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "President Obama and I are determined that a qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice based on sexual orientation or gender identity."
The proposals announced today include:
- Requiring that all who participate in HUD’s programs comply with all existing local and state non-discrimination ordinances;
- Specifying that Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured mortgage loans are given based on the credit-worthiness of the applicants, and not on other factors, such as sexual orientation and gender identity;
- Clarifying that in the public housing and Housing Choice Voucher program, the use of the term “family” includes all eligible lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, couples and families; subsidized housing would be made available to all who need it, without discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Also vitally important is today’s announcement by HUD that they are commissioning a national study of the discrimination that LGBT people face in housing, the first of its kind. To date there have been no federal studies to evaluate the extent of the problem.
However, a recent study of 6,500 transgender people by NCTE and the Task Force showed just how fragile housing is for so many transgender people and why these new actions by the Obama Administration is so urgently needed. Among the findings:
- Only 32% of our sample reported home ownership compared to 68% of the general population;
- 19% report being denied an apartment or home because they are transgender;
- 19% have become homeless at some point in their lives.
NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling commented, “Housing is a basic right and a basic human need and these numbers show just how blatant the discrimination is that transgender people face every single day. Today’s actions by HUD will make a difference in a tremendous number of lives. We are so pleased that the Obama administration continues to express through both action and words that it is committed to making sure that all federal government programs are accessible to all people.”
At the beginning of 2009, NCTE called upon each federal agency to issue a policy directive stating that it will ensure that individuals who receive services from that agency would not be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or expression. NCTE also sought a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in federally assisted housing programs. HUD’s actions yesterday made substantial progress on both of these issues. We expect that other agencies will take similar action.
NCTE looks forward to working with the Obama Administration as these proposals move forward to ensure that everyone has access to housing and other government services.
Hate Crimes Bill Moves Forward
(October 8, 2009, Washington, DC) The House of Representatives voted today, by a vote of 281-146, to accept the Department of Defense Authorization Conference Report, including the hate crimes provisions, now called The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The bill had been being worked on by a conference committee, which reconciled the different House and Senate versions, so that a final vote can be taken on a unified bill. This vital legislation adds gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability to the categories covered in federal hate crimes laws.
This bill is truly historic for the transgender community as it marks the first federal protections to include gender identity. It will also provide necessary tools to educate law enforcement about the hate-motivated violence that we face and the need to both prevent and address it. In addition, resources and expertise from the federal government will be available to jurisdictions that aren’t able to, or aren’t willing to, investigate bias crimes against transgender people. Finally, it sends a clear message that violence is never an acceptable to response to differences.
You may recall that the Senate version included a death penalty provision—added by conservatives hoping to make the bill unpalatable to liberals. Fortunately, this has been removed in conference committee so will not be part of the final bill.
President Obama has already indicated that he will sign the bill once it is passed by both the House and Senate. Since both chambers have already voted positively on the bill, it is expected to pass and move forward very shortly. Watch for more details as these exciting events unfold and we take concrete steps to address the violence that we face.
Hearing on ENDA in House of Representatives
Committee on Education and Labor Hears Testimony on Workplace Discrimination
(September 23, 2009, Washington, DC)—The House Committee on Education and Labor, led by Chairman George Miller, heard testimony this morning about the devastating impact of workplace discrimination faced by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The hearing was part of the Committee’s work on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), HR 3017.
One witness, Vandy Beth Glenn, had worked for the Georgia state legislature for a number of years until the day when she informed her supervisor that she was transitioning from male to female; she was immediately fired from her job. Her experiences, unfortunately, are not unique. The recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey led by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) found that 26% of the 6,450 transgender people surveyed had faced an adverse job action, such as losing their jobs, being denied a promotion or not being hired because of their gender identity or expression. Almost every person who responded to the survey—a staggering 97%— had experienced harassment or discrimination on the job because they are transgender.
“Now is the time that we must pass legislation designed to protect Americans from this kind of blatant and unfair discrimination,” commented NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling. “Every single day, transgender people are being fired for being who they are, even when they have excellent work records and skills. As a result, their families struggle and often fail to make ends meet, people lose their homes, careers end, all because someone’s supervisor decided that it was okay to discriminate. That is not the American way. This legislation is absolutely needed to make it clear that discrimination is never acceptable.”
Several committee members were visibly moved by Ms. Glenn’s testimony and expressed concern at the way she was treated. They also asked detailed questions of the witnesses and many cited their support for ENDA’s passage.
Transgender advocates continue to be actively engaged in work to pass ENDA, with people around the country visiting, writing and calling their members of Congress. A companion bill has already been introduced in the Senate, S.1584.
Inclusive ENDA Introduced in the Senate
Washington, DC, August 5, 2009— A fully inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) was introduced today in the Senate with bipartisan support. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), joined by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), introduced the bill, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Our goal with this legislation is clear and simple,” stated Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Hardworking transgender people deserve the right to go to work without the fear of being arbitrarily fired. We want to apply for a job and be confident that we’ll be evaluated based on our qualifications. Our work should be judged on our skills and our expertise, the same as everyone else. ENDA is simply about basic equality in the workplace and freedom from discrimination.”
A House version of the bill was introduced by Rep. Barney Frank on June 24 and now has 152 co-sponsors. It is currently being considered in committee. President Obama has already declared his support for ENDA.
What You Can Do
This week, please take action by contacting your Senators to ask them to co-sponsor this vital legislation. There are a number of ways you can do this:
- Call your Senators. You can find the phone numbers at www.senate.gov and select your state in the upper right hand corner. That will give you contact information for both of your Senators.
- Write an e-mail online with our ENDA action: http://www.rallycongress.com/enda/
- Go to a town hall or other public meeting in your state while your members of Congress are home in August. You may still be able to get an appointment to meet with your members of Congress or a staff member. See our Toolkit for more information about how to do this. National Center for Transgender Equality’s ENDA Toolkit
It is critical that members of Congress hear directly from transgender people and our families, friends and allies about the need to pass this bill. Please speak out today!
Want more information?
Visit our ENDA webpage and find out more. http://nctequality.org/enda.html
ENDA's Introduction Announced in the House
(June 29) The National Center for Transgender Equality applauds the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as a vital step towards employment equality for all Americans.
NCTE’s Executive Director, Mara Keisling, commented, “Day after day, we hear from transgender people who have lost their jobs for no other reason than plain and simple discrimination. This includes people who have had long and distinguished careers who, after they transition, suddenly find themselves unable to find meaningful work and young transgender people who are unable to get their first job. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be an important step in helping these folks get to work. When asked, Americans are consistently clear on the fact that we believe that people should be judged at work for the quality of their work, not on unrelated factors. This bill would bring the law into line with what Americans already know—prejudice has no place in the American workplace.”
NCTE is calling on its members to be actively involved in the process of passing the bill, including visiting their members of Congress during the summer. The organization has been working for this bill from its inception in 2003.
Are Transgender Federal Employees Protected?
How Does Today’s Announcement Affect Trans People? Some good news and some “we’ll see.”
(Washington, DC; June 17, 2009) Today, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non-Discrimination. The memorandum follows the Administration’s review regarding what benefits may be extended to the same-sex partners of federal employees in the civil service and the foreign service within the confines of existing federal laws and statutes. The memorandum also directs the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue guidelines within 90 days to all executive departments and agencies about how to comply with and implement the civil service laws, which make it unlawful to discriminate against federal employees or applicants for federal employment on the basis of factors not related to job performance.
Today’s announcement was a small first step in addressing the needs of LGBT people in federal employment. Obviously, any policy that benefits same-sex couples will benefit transgender people since many trans people are in same-sex relationships. But it would be a pyrrhic victory indeed if transgender federal employees could count on limited partnership benefits, but not on actual protection from employment discrimination. Thus NCTE has and continues to prioritize securing clear policies from the administration that federal employees are protected based on gender identity and expression. It is one of our eleven priorities for 2009 and progress is being made with this announcement today.
While we are just as concerned as many other LGBT people and organizations about the need to increase the pace of positive policy change, it is nonetheless clear from our ongoing work with the administration, as well as public statements made today by OPM and other administration officials, that it is their intention and commitment that the OPM guidance to be issued in the next 90 days will provide real, robust and meaningful protections for transgender federal employees and job applicants. NCTE will continue to provide expertise as OPM moves forward.
Officials we spoke with today reconfirmed that the decision is firm that the new guidelines to agencies and departments will make clear that discrimination based on gender identity and expression is forbidden under civil service policies and that the policy will be enforced by this Administration. We will be meeting with them in the coming weeks, as part of our continuing work with them, to discuss the specific guidance that will be sent to the many agencies of the federal government to communicate the decisions and explain the policy. The process is also already underway at OPM to update federal personnel materials to make it clear that the federal government does not tolerate discrimination based on gender identity and expression in its hiring practices.
We are now conducting an independent legal analysis of the memo signed by the President today, and we will work with OPM to make sure that they will have a sufficient and meaningful impact protecting transgender federal employees from job discrimination.
We hope that you will join with us in continuing to look for and advocate for these important steps. While we are heartened by our conversations with White House officials and glad for their commitment to providing equal opportunities for all Americans, we will also continue to work diligently to ensure that these decisions are implemented and communicated effectively. The White House understands, as we do, that this is the first step of many steps we need to take to bring about equality for transgender people.
We know you share our commitment that transgender people need and deserve the opportunity to work, being judged by the quality of our work and the skills to do the job, not by our gender identity or expression.
UPDATE (June 4, 2009): Chaffetz Amendment passes today.
Vote coming on Whole Body Imaging Scans
Chaffetz Amendment to the TSA Authorization Act
Would Rein in Whole Body Imaging Scans
June 3, 2009
Call Your Member of Congress TODAY to Protect Transgender Airport Privacy
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act (H.R. 2200) this week. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has added an amendment to the bill which would prohibit using Whole Body Imaging as the sole or primary method of screening at airport security checkpoints, and would allow passengers the opportunity to choose a full pat down as an alternative to Whole Body Imaging.
This is particularly important for transgender people because Whole Body Imaging scanners produce a three-dimensional image of the passenger’s nude body, including breasts, genitals, buttocks, prosthetics, binding materials, and any objects on the person’s body, in an attempt to identify contraband. These scanners may out transgender people to TSA staff and potentially subject transgender people to further screening at the airports.
Call your Member of Congress TODAY and ask that they support the Chaffetz amendment to the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act.
Need to know more about Whole Body Imaging? NCTE has put together an FAQ on Whole Body Imaging with more information on the program, how it works, what TSA staff sees through the scanners, and what you can do to avoid airport problems.
The Reuniting Families Act
June 1, 2009
Immigration Equality is an LGBT organization that has been a strong champion of transgender rights, working with transgender people seeking asylum in the United States. They have an important immigration bill that will be introduced in the next few days. We are passing along this action alert from them and encourage you to take action today.
From Immigration Equality:
Take Action to support LGBT Immigrant Families!
Tell Congress: Keep Our Families Together!
Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA), a long-time champion of the LGBT community, will soon introduce The Reuniting Families Act. This landmark immigration bill ends harmful practices - such as long visa wait times and discrimination against LGBT families - that prevent loving families from being together.
In an historic move, Congressman Honda has included same gender couples as part of this remarkable legislation . . . marking the first time in Congressional history that these couples have been included as part of a multi-issue immigration bill.
As our country begins a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform, this important first step helps to ensure that, moving forward, same gender couples are included, too. The President supports us, and Congress is increasingly on our side. Now, our community can be part of fixing our nation's broken immigration system by supporting their efforts.
Please stand with Congressman Honda and our families, and urge your elected representative to co-sponsor The Reuniting Families Act.
ACT NOW to Urge Your Member of Congress to Cosponsor the Reuniting Families Act!
Please call your U.S. Representative and ask him or her to cosponsor the Reuniting Families Act, which will allow Americans to sponsor their same gender partners for immigration.
Along with the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), Congressman Honda's bill is another sign of historic progress for the LGBT community, and it is critical that our elected representatives know this is an important issue for our community.
There are two QUICK ACTIONS you can DO TODAY to support family unity:
- Call NOW to urge your Representative to cosponsor the Reuniting Families Act! Contact the Capital Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be directly connected to your Representative. (If you don't know who your representative is you can find out at www.congressmerge.com)
- Forward this message to 10 friends immediately and urge them to participate.
Thanks for making sure that comprehensive immigration reform is truly comprehensive - and includes LGBT families!
For more information on immigration discrimination against LGBT families, see www.immigrationequality.org. For more information on the Reuniting Families Act and its supporters, see http://honda.house.gov/legislation/2009/family-reunification/
Hate Crimes Bill Passes
Includes Gender Identity
April 29, 2009
Today the United States House of Representatives voted 249 to 175 in favor of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H. R. 1913), moving one step closer to the passage of the first federal law to include gender identity and transgender people in a positive way. This bill would add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to the categories included in existing federal hate crimes law and would allow local governments who are unable or unwilling to address hate crimes to receive assistance from the federal government.
“This is a great day for America,” commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, “as we make a clear statement that all lives are valuable and that no one deserves to be targeted for violence just because they are transgender. It is vital that we make it absolutely clear that violence motivated by bias is not tolerated in our country, because while this is a victory, the true victory will come when everyone is genuinely free from violence and discrimination. That’s what we are working for.”
Transgender people continue to be disproportionately targeted for bias motivated violence and thirteen states and Washington, DC have laws which include transgender people in state hate crimes laws.
NCTE Statement on the Greeley Colorado verdict
(April 22, 2009) The National Center for Transgender Equality is pleased that this horrendous crime against Angie Zapata and her loved ones was taken very seriously by local authorities, and that they treated Angie with the respect she deserves. The prosecution did a skilled and caring job of refuting the absurd and inhumane stereotype that transgender people are somehow being deceptive by being themselves and deserving of such horrific treatment. We hope that Angie’s family can find some measure of peace and healing.
Hate Crimes Bill Introduced
Includes Gender Identity
April 3, 2009
Last night, Representative John Conyers of Michigan re-introduced The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, H.R. 1913. This would be the first-ever federal law to provide protections for transgender people. It is identical to the hate crimes bill passed by the House of Representatives in 2007 and includes the language that transgender advocates requested. It is also the first transgender inclusive bill to be introduced during this Session.
In his comments introducing the bill, Rep. John Conyers stated, “Hate crime statistics do not speak for themselves. Behind each of the statistics is an individual or community targeted for violence for no other reason than race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Law enforcement authorities and civic leaders have learned that a failure to address the problem of bias crime can cause a seemingly isolated incident to fester into widespread tension that can damage the social fabric of the wider community. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 is a constructive and measured response to a problem that continues to plague our nation. These are crimes that shock and shame our national conscience. They should be subject to comprehensive federal law enforcement assistance and prosecution.”
The time to act is now!
Call your Representatives today.
Representatives are heading home to their districts for spring recess from now until April 21st. It is vital that you call them in their district offices to urge their support for this critical piece of legislation. Those who oppose this legislation will be active during this time—we need to be as well so that members of Congress are hearing from those directly affected by this legislation. Please take this important step to help address the violence faced by transgender people.
And please consider joining us in Washington for what is shaping up to be the largest transgender Lobby Day ever—the hate crimes bill may come up for a vote that same week. There’s still time to register and to meet with your members of Congress and tell them why this and other transgender-inclusive bills are so important to us.
Introduction of the Senate version is expected soon. We’ll let you know when that happens.
What the Bill Says
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, H.R. 1913, would:
- Extend existing federal protections to include "gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability"
- Allow the Justice Department to assist in hate crime investigations at the local level when local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to fully address these crimes
- Mandate that the FBI begin tracking hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity
- Remove limitations that narrowly define hate crimes to violence committed while a person is accessing a federally protected activity, such as voting.
The Hate Crimes Prevention Act is supported by nearly 300 civil rights, education, religious, and civic organizations. The bill is also endorsed by virtually every major law enforcement organization in the country—including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, and thirty-one state Attorneys General.
For more information:
NCTE to honor Rep. John Conyers, Attorney Shannon Minter and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry
Celebrating excellence in the work for transgender equality
March 25, 2009
Hundreds of transgender people and allies from across the country will gather to honor the achievements of Representative John Conyers, attorney Shannon Minter, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry, at an awards celebration, Moving Forward Together, on Monday, April 27, 2009. Each year the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) hosts the event to honor individuals and organizations whose worked has made a substantive difference in the lives of transgender people and in our work for greater equality under the law.
“This is a significant moment as we move ahead with legislation that will save transgender lives,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE. “Representative Conyers has been integral to the success of the hate crimes law and understands how vitally important it is to ending discrimination and violence aimed at transgender people. We are so glad to be able to take a moment in the midst of this work to thank and honor all of these incredible advocates for making such a significant different in our movement.”
Representative John J. Conyers Jr. (D-MI) has been a principle advocate for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would add gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability to existing law. In his tenure of more than forty years in the House of Representatives, Chairman Conyers has been a tireless advocate for equal rights for all Americans, with a particular passion for economic justice, the rights of women, civil rights and health care. Chairman Conyers is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Shannon Price Minter, Esq, is the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a transgender man. Minter was the lead attorney for the same sex couples in the California marriage rights case before the state Supreme Court. He is the author of numerous articles and books on LGBT legal issues, including Transgender Rights (University of Minnesota Press 2006) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Family Law (West Publishing 2008). Minter serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. He is being honored by NCTE because he represents the vital connection between our work as transgender people and our integral place in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement.
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, was founded in 2000 to transform faith communities and our broader world as we look at issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. For the past three years, CLGS has been a strong organizational ally to NCTE, working in partnership to produce an annual Transgender Religious Leaders Summit. At a time when public discourse often paints a portrait of people of faith as intransigently opposed to civil rights for LGBT people, the CLGS has countered that by contributing a positive and compelling vision of the diversity of faith communities and a commitment to justice and equality that includes transgender people.
The awards celebration will be held on April 28, 2009 from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Loews Madison Hotel, located at 1177 Fifteenth Street, NW, in Washington, DC. More information is available at http://nctequality.org/celebration.html
Transgender Equality and the Federal Government
What would federal policy look like if transgender people were fully and fairly included? Over the past months and years, NCTE has compiled a list of 112 separate policies that directly impact the lives of transgender people and our families that need to be added, removed or changed. Our latest publication, Transgender Equality and the Federal Government outlines each of these issues. We expect that some of these policies can be changed in the short term, while others will require long term activism. Some of the issues here will be at the forefront of NCTE’s work in the coming year and in other areas, our partners in this work will be the ones to lead, with our support.
We believe that our community should be informed about the ways in which the federal government is impacting all of our lives. We share the responsibility for advocating for fair treatment under the law and we hope that you will play a role in making these changes.
Transgender Equality and the Federal Government was compiled by NCTE’s staff, with input from dozens of individuals and organizations who brought their expertise on these diverse policies.
Join us April 26-28 in Washington, DC as we speak directly with Congress about the issues outlined in this document. We will arrange meetings for you to meet with lawmakers and tell them why, as one of their constituents, you need protection from discrimination and violence. These meetings are critical to the process of making lasting policy change both for ourselves and for the transgender people and their families, friends and allies in generations to come. Won’t you join us? More information is available on our Lobby Day information page.
Participating in the National Day of Service
January 12, 2009
President-Elect Obama has called for a National Day of Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19, 2009. NCTE was honored to be asked to participate in this important event by hosting a FEATURED session to give allies information about our lives and the ways in which they can support full equality for transgender people. You can find more information about NCTE’s session on the Presidential Inaugural Committee website.
You and your local community can get involved in this historic day as well. If you’d like to lead a training in your town like the one we are doing in Washington, DC, you can have it listed on the inaugural committee’s website by going to http://www.usaservice.org.
To help even more, we are launching a new resource, Teaching Transgender], that will help you plan an educational workshop in your local community center, workplace, school, hospital, community of faith, you name it. Maybe you’ll want to host it next Monday or use the time to schedule it for a future date. One of the most important things we can do for transgender rights is to educate people about the realities of our lives. This resource provides all of the information you’ll need, whether you are a new trainer or a veteran activist, and is entirely free to download and use.
You may also want to consider participating in other activities next Monday. At www.usaservice.org, you can find many events in your area where you can help out. Working together to improve the lives of people right where you live is a great way to remind people that we are also a part of the community.
Please, take just a few moments today to plan a training or sign up for an existing event as we honor Dr. King’s legacy of service and look forward to a better future for our country.