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Lobbying for ENDA with the HRC Business Council

AtticusTysenThis post on lobbying for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other issues comes from Atticus Tysen, Vice President, Intuit Inc. On Thursday, March 4th, I and other members of the HRC Business Council participated in the HRC Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. I had never participated in something like this, but was pleased to see how well organized it was and how well they prepared us. We focused on four main requests in our meetings with the representatives:

But it was ultimately about telling our own stories -- and in my case particularly, sharing a business perspective on an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Stories about how not having nationwide non-discrimination legislation has affected us as employees and employers. Stories about how having domestic partner benefits has improved our loyalty and value to companies and why that would matter to federal employees. Stories about how the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is hindering our armed forces and servicemen and women we know. As part of the California delegation, I met with my own representative Jackie Speier. Congresswoman Speier is a long-time supporter of the LGBT community and is already a co-sponsor on all the legislation we were discussing, so this meeting gave me a chance to personally thank her for her support on behalf of the community and encourage her continued leadership. And, also to reinforce that her work does matter to real people and that the struggle is worth it. I also had the chance to meet with our Senator, Barbara Boxer along with the rest of the HRC California delegation. I was impressed with how gracious and warm she was with us, how well she knew our issues and candidly discussed the status and likely outcomes. It was important for me to reiterate why ENDA is a pro-business piece of legislation.  87 percent of Fortune 500 companies already include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies and more than 40 percent include gender identity.  While these internal policies that ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity give many people protection, without a strong law many LGBT workers are still left vulnerable. Additionally we talked about how judging employees based on their merit -- and not who they are -- helps level the playing field and keeps American workers focused on getting their jobs done and rebuilding our economy. Both Congresswoman Speier and Senator Boxer reinforced that now is the time to move on these pieces of legislation. This year, it looks like we may have the votes but that's not guaranteed next year. It’s important that everyone urges their representatives to support these bills now. This is an historic time, and I could personally feel that yesterday during this event. We can’t afford to let it slip away. We were meeting not on behalf of our companies, but as individual citizens, while bringing a business person’s perspective to the conversations. If you are considering being part of a future lobby day, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do it. Anyone can, and it matters to the representatives to see and hear from you. It’s important for us all to be visible and working together on these issues. Lastly, it was great fun.

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