Guest post from Craig van Baal, VP for Political Affairs of GABLES of Cape May County.
Last week, Representative Frank LoBiondo became the eighth Republican to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). As a leader of our local LGBT community organization, I had the opportunity to work with the organizers from HRC and the Americans for Workplace Opportunity campaign who have been on the ground in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District educating people about ENDA and connecting constituents with Congressman LoBiondo's office. The team here included dedicated intern Rob Constant and organizers Rohan Genge and Matthew Ruark.
Support for ENDA is strong in New Jersey, and the team in the district worked with supporters from Atlantic City to Cape May to Vineland collecting nearly 1,700 postcards and more than 100 handwritten letters asking Congressman LoBiondo to co-sponsor the bill. Supporters generated more than 850 phone calls into the congressman's offices through volunteer phone banks and stop-and-dial actions. In total, the campaign generated nearly 3,000 constituent actions in support of ENDA over the last couple of months.
After hearing from the Americans for Workplace Opportunity organizers, the board of GABLES of Cape May County decided to ask for a meeting with Congressman LoBiondo. We have had a relationship with the Congressman for many years, and the board authorized me and our executive director, Vince Grimm, to meet with the Congressman.
I emerged from our June 4th meeting with Representative LoBiondo reassured by the fact that a small group of concerned citizens like those of us from GABLES can interact with elected officials and create a non-confrontational dialog that fosters greater understanding. I believe we were able to allay many of the congressman's concerns. I was thrilled the next week when Vince and I received personal calls from the Congressman letting us know he had decided to co-sponsor ENDA. We appreciate the time he took to consider the issue and salute him on his decision.
ENDA passed the U.S. Senate with a strong bipartisan vote last year. This critical bill, which would provide federal protections against workplace discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers, is now pending in the U.S. House of Representatives. To learn more about HRC’s work to pass ENDA and to contact your Member of Congress, visit www.hrc.org/ENDA.
P.S. Since Congressman LoBiondo announced he is co-sponsoring ENDA, hundreds of constituents in his district have called his office to thank him for his leadership and support. If you live in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional district and have yet to make your call, we urge you to pick up the phone today and tell Representative LoBiondo THANK YOU for standing up against employment nondiscrimination for all Americans.