- May 2, 2013
On Tuesday, hundreds of people – myself included – lobbied and rallied in Albany, New York in favor of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. This bill, which is also known as GENDA, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit.
Lobby days are always a lot of fun, and Equality and Justice Day – promoted by the Trans Rights Coalition, organized by the Empire State Pride Agenda and sponsored in part by the Human Rights Campaign – was no exception. It was a particularly meaningful lobby day for me, as I am a native New Yorker and grew up only miles away from where the rally was taking place. Lobby Days in general are an exciting time in a legislative campaign: it is the culmination of a lot of behind the scenes work, and it is so inspiring to be surrounded by so many passionate, committed, politically engaged people!
Our representatives need to understand that the issues they debate affect the lives of real, three-dimensional people. They also need to know they’ll be held politically accountable for the way they vote. People came from all corners of the vast state of New York to talk to their Senators and Assembly members about why prohibiting discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people is so important to them. Their passion is infectious, and some of that lobbying may have already paid off – the Assembly passed GENDA on Tuesday while Equality & Justice Day attendees filled the gallery.
I know I am not alone in believing that participating directly in democracy is a powerful thing. If you are a New Yorker but couldn’t attend Equality and Justice Day, it is not too late to be a part of making this important bill become a law. Tell your Senator that you want to see GENDA brought to the floor of the Senate and then passed. It is beyond time that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression be prohibited by a state that has always been a leader on matters of LGBT equality – make me proud once again, New York.
Pictured, from left to right: Cathryn Oakley and Nick Martin, HRC staff and native New Yorkers; and Rhonda Patillo and Michael Olivarri, HRC volunteers who rode the bus from Lower Manhattan in order to attend.