The battle wages on as valiant national LGBTQ leaders lead the charge for a federal strategy of equality. Top among those issues is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which passed the House with protections for sexual orientation only. In keeping with the call for inclusiveness, leaders have vowed solidarity to keep protections based on gender identity and gender expression in the new legislation.
You can monitor the situation via Facebook working group. I was one of the folks who made calls to my federal officials (Doyle, Specter and Casey). It tooks me five minutes, was free with my cell phone and I had to write down maybe 3 sentences.
Kudos to Mike Doyle for being an absolute yes on an Inclusive ENDA. If you see him at PrideFest, be sure to thank him.
The ENDA FB group has created a spreadsheet of undecideds in the House of Representatives. In the entire House, there are 6 absolute yes votes and 169 probably yes. With the probably no votes, there are 127 Representatives whose vote is undecided or unknown.
Check out whether your legislator's position is in the undecided/unknown category on the spreadsheet link on our Inclusive ENDA page. (**I've listed PA below – Sue.)
If they are listed there, please call their office at 202-224-3121. Ask your Rep's office whether he or she has a position on an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and explain that means both sexual orientation and gender identity. Then, post the results of your call on the Wall below (even if it's just leaving a message).
Now I know from previous comments that people are busy working hard and feeling disconnected for advocacy. But I'm asking you to stop and think about this legislation (and HB 300) in the context of your own life.
Have you experienced discrimination or felt discriminated against in the workplace? Based on anything – gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. Does your employer have a viable means of reporting and addressing this discrimination? A lot of people tell me no. They either suck it up or find somewhere else to work.
That's wrong. And I'm going to guess that the lack of protections or enforceable protections hits disproportionately in workplaces that suck to begin with — low wages, undesirable working conditions, hard hours and so forth. Because employers that don't try to create a decent working environment (to the best of their ability) probably aren't worried that someone called you a fag in the breakroom? Right? (This is where you might begin to see the affinity between labor and the LGBT equality movement).
Unless they might be fined for it.
I'm sure not saying that ENDA or HB 300 is going to cure your work woes, but it is an important tool to fight back and send a message that we are not second-class citizens. That YOUR work is as important and valuable as your heterosexual counterparts. That you deserve to work harassment free so you can do your job plain and simple.
Why inclusive? Well, first because we can't leave people behind on the path to equality lest we prove ourselves willing to tolerate a three tiered separate but equal society. (Wrong). There's a also a fine line to understand — for example, women who don't “express” the kind of female identity that society lifts up as ideal could be fired for being a disruptive influence. You aren't fired for being a dyke, you are fired for not being femme. Gussy yourself up and you'll be fine. (Wrong).
I know all of you gay people reading this have encountered gender role crap before. Either you look too gay or your don't look gay at all. Your hair is too short or your hair has too much product. Your wallet chain is too masculine or your purse is too pretty. One might get you fired, but my sisters who get the you don't look gay crap can empathize with this situation, right? And men, too, by all means.
So we all have a very clear investment in this legislation which would apply across the nation. The national organizers want that one simple call outlined above. The more calls they get, the more effort they will put into the issue.
Kathleen Dahlkemper (Butler Armstrong, Venago, more**)
Jason Altmire (Western PA)
John Murtha (Western PA)
Charles Dent (Republican)
Todd Platts (Republican)
So let's focus on Murtha and Altmire who are in our neck of the woods, okay? You know people who live there. You probably know gay people. God knows there are plenty in Cranberry Township which is ironically suffering a dearth of qualified blue collar workers who can't afford to live there. Plus, there aren't enough bus routes to transport folks from the big-bad-tax-levying City. Huh.
So call. Join the FB group. Post your results on their Wall. See if we can knock 127 down a bit. At least by two.
Finally, don't forget HB 300. Or the County Ordinance. There's a synergy between all three. While you are making calls, why not call three – your County Councilperson, your State Representative and Altmire/Murtha?