With all the focus on Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal this week, let's not lose sight of the fact that we are also extremely close to getting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed as well. The question is whether protection for gender identity or expression will be stripped from the bill before it goes to a final vote.
I have it from a reliable source that there are some representatives in Washington who don't want their names on legislation that includes anti-discrimination protection for trans people, out of fear it will hurt their chances for re-election. For them, this is the only sticking point in getting ENDA passed. We cannot allow our trans brothers and sisters to be thrown under the bus!
Rick Boucher (D-Va.), from the very conservative 9th District in western and far southwestern Virginia (my home district, which includes Virginia Tech and Radford University) and Glenn Nye (D-Va.) from Virginia's 2nd District (Pat Robertson's Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach area) are considering proposing a motion to rescind, which is a procedure that allows legislation to be stripped of certain components after the final language has been approved.
Confused? It's sort of like getting an low insurance rate quote only to find out that your actual rate is higher after you sign up. It's nothing more than a classic "bait and switch" con game.
When I met with Rick Boucher's staff in his Pulaski, Virginia office last October, with two students from Virginia Tech, to ask for his support for ENDA, we were assured by his staff that Boucher would most likely vote in favor of it's passage. When I received a letter from Congressman Boucher (four months later) acknowledging the meeting, he assured me that he would, in fact, be voting in favor of ENDA's passage. At no time was there any mention by Boucher of not wanting to include gender identity or expression as a protected status.
That was before Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council started his anti-ENDA smear campaign with videos like this, that call ENDA "the end of religious liberty and free speech in America":
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said earlier this year that he didn't include LGBT protection in his executive order of employment protection because the U.S. Constitution already provides such protection. Hello, Mr. Governor? WRONG!! That's why we need ENDA with full protection for all people, including LGBT Americans.
Call Rick Boucher and Glenn Nye today and tell them not to be swayed by lies from the religious right. Virginia has always prided itself as being a "right to work" state. No one should be fired from their job because of factors that don't effect their ability to to that job. Rick Boucher has a long pro-jobs track record in southwestern Virginia. With the economy in such a mess, people who have jobs should be able to keep them without fear of discrimination.
Call Congressman Boucher and Congressman Nye via the congressional switchboard in Washington at (202) 224-3121, (or at the numbers below) and tell them to pass the current version of ENDA that includes protection on the basis of gender expression or identity. This is no time to be throwing people under the bus.
Local numbers are:
Rick Boucher: Direct line in DC: (202) 225-3861, Pulaski, Va., (540) 980-3410, Abingdon, Va., (276)-628-1145, Big Stone Gap (276) 523-5450.
Glenn Nye: Direct Line in DC (202) 225-4215, Virginia Beach, (757) 326-6201, Accomac, Va., (757) 789-5092.
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