Talking with Sen. Murkowski’s Staff About ENDA
September 8, 2011 by Tony Wagner, Western Regional Field Director
The following post is from HRC volunteers in Anchorage, Alaska – Jaime Spatrisano and Issa Braman:
We met with Jeremy Price, a staff member of Senator Lisa Murkowski, on Friday, August 26, 2011. The purpose of the meeting with Jeremy was to ask for Senator Murkowski’s support of S. 811, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Initially, we thanked Jeremy for the senator’s support of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and expressed how much it meant to the LGBT community. Jeremy noted that the staff was in some ways surprised by Senator Murkowski’s vote, while adding that she is a free thinker and votes on what she believes is right after listening to all the information presented.
We then discussed ENDA and the benefit of supporting the bill in Congress. We mentioned that the majority of the major oil companies present in Alaska, Anchorage Public Schools and the University of Alaska already prohibit discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation. Jaime shared that her employer, Standing Together Against Rape (S.T.A.R.) forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, and when it was brought to their attention that gender identity was not included, a proposal for its addition was immediately sent to the board for approval. This emphasized the support from the Anchorage community for focusing on a person’s qualifications and work ethic, not their sexual orientation. Issa added that despite her qualifications at her current job and high work appraisals, her job security remains threatened simply on the basis of her sexual orientation because there are no protections to prevent discrimination.
Jeremy said the Senator needs more education on employment discrimination faced by transgender individuals. Jaime said we will continue the conversation and education process. In concluding the meeting, Jeremy noted that a co-sponsorship of ENDA may be a heavy lift, but just like with DADT repeal, the Senator could end up supporting ENDA if it came up for a vote.
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