Lobbying for Equality in the Empire State
June 14, 2013 by Guest contributor
Post submitted by Meghan Stabler, HRC Board of Directors
Earlier this week, I accompanied two HRC staff to Albany to lobby the New York State Senate to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. This critical bill would add gender identity and expression to New York’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws. I know how important these laws are – I have worked across the country with state legislative bodies and private companies, including my Long Island-based employer, to provide comprehensive non-discrimination protections to LGBT people. It is beyond time for New York State to have GENDA on the books. Sixteen other states, plus D.C. protect people based on gender identity or expression, and Delaware is poised to pass a similar bill early next week.
Lobbying is a strange and often frustrating process, but being able to meet your representative in person and share your personal story is also very empowering. It is important that our legislators hear from the people whose lives will be affected by the bills in front of them. I sat down, one-on-one, with several State Republican Senators who were not in favor of the bill or had serious concerns. With honest and candidate conversation, and dedicated time, I believe that we are moving their direction toward equality.
Many activists and non-profits have been at work in the Empire State for decades to get equality on the books. However, some lawmakers are still on the fence about committing their political will to do the right thing for some of the most vulnerable people, trans people, in the state. Enough is enough, public support for the passage of GENDA is an overwhelming majority. The time is now for State lawmakers to put their personal animosity and hypothetical “what if’s” in the trashcan and pass GENDA.
There has been a lot of momentum for this bill in recent weeks – including an op-ed by the New York Times – but there’s only one week left of the legislative session.
Join me and many of the other people working to pass GENDA. You can and will make a difference. If you live in New York, whether you identify as trans or not, please contact your Senator and let them know that you support GENDA and want to see it become law before the end of the session!
HRC is a proud member of the Trans Rights Coalition working together to pass GENDA in New York.
Pictured: Megan Stabler, New York State Senator Boyle, HRC Legislative Counsel Cathryn Oakley
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