News 2007

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Success in Indiana!
Indiana BMV Stops Practice of Using Gender to Invalidate Driver Licenses

(December 5, 2007)The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has agreed to immediately discontinue using gender mismatches solely as a reason for invalidating driver licenses.  Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) successfully worked with officials at the Indiana BMV to bring about this policy change.

On November 6th, the Indiana BMV began issuing warning letters to people in the BMV database whose information did not match Social Security Administration's (SSA) records.  Information compared between the two databases included name, Social Security number, date of birth, and gender.  Letters instructed recipients to resolve discrepancies within 30 days or risk losing their driving privileges.

INTRAA and NCTE brought to the Indiana BMV's attention that Social Security uses a different standard for changing gender markers than what the BMV uses.  Because of these differing standards, some transgender people legitimately have an Indiana driver license or identification card with one gender marker and SSA records with a different gender marker.  Through the work of INTRAA and NCTE, Indiana BMV Commissioner Ron Stiver realized the difficulties surrounding gender marker verification and issued an immediate policy change.  The newest policy is that gender mismatches will be ignored by the BMV.

Indiana driver license and identification card holders who have other SSA mismatches besides gender, such as name or date of birth, will still need to resolve those discrepancies.  Those with mismatches besides gender, and who fail to get their SSA and BMV records to match, will be sent a second letter.  This second letter will advise them that unless the mismatch is resolved their driving license will become invalid, effective 30 days from the date of the second letter. 

The Indiana BMV does not plan to issue "disregard" notices to people who received letters for gender-only mismatches.  However, people who had gender only as a mismatch will not be issued a second letter.  In the future people who have gender and a second type of information mismatch (for instance, name) will be sent letters that mention only the non-gender mismatches.   

INTRAA and NCTE applaud the Indiana BMV for its quick response and for resolving a problem that affected a sizable proportion of transgender people in Indiana. 

For more information on the Indiana BMV Social Security Online Verification program, go to http://www.in.gov/bmv/4098.htm.

If you have received one of these letters and are looking for information or assistance, please contact us at info@intraa.org or jotto@nctequality.org.

NCTE Statement on World AIDS Day

(December 1, 2007) On World AIDS Day, the National Center for Transgender Equality stands in solidarity with the more than 42 million people around the world who are living with HIV and AIDS. The statistics about the impact of this pandemic are staggering-more than 14 million children are orphans because of this disease, 14,000 people are infected every day with more than half of those under the age of 24, and over 22 million people have lost their lives to AIDS. The studies on the transgender community vary in their exact numbers but all show higher rates of transmission than in the general population.*

The transgender community remains at significant risk from HIV because so many transgender people don't have access to compassionate, competent, and affordable health care. HIV disproportionately impacts those who are economically marginalized, as many transgender people are, and who are faced with inadequate nutrition and preventive care. Employment discrimination forces some transgender people, particularly women, into sex work with increased risk of exposure to HIV. We have heard deeply troubling stories of transgender people turned away from medical care for HIV because of their gender identity.

We honor World AIDS Day and those who are living with AIDS by calling for:

  • Universal access to life-saving medication for people living with HIV-medical treatments exist that can greatly impact the quality of life and health for people with HIV. Access to medication should not be a privilege of the rich but needs to be available to all, without regard to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or any other category. What you can do: Support funding to provide medications.
  • Advances in provider education and skills-there is no excuse for transgender people being denied medical care and yet it happens all the time. Some people are turned away because of their provider's prejudices, while other medical professionals are worried that they do not have the skills to treat transgender people. Yet all people should have access to competent and respectful medical care. Gender identity and HIV status should never be excuses to deny treatment. No one should ever hear, "We can't treat people like you." What you can do: Conduct a training for medical providers. You can find information about how to do this on our website: Set up a training for medical providers 
  • Creation and distribution of transgender-specific HIV prevention materials-transgender people need access to prevention materials that reflect our understanding of our bodies and the ways in which we may modify them. Most prevention materials are very gender specific; transgender people need to see our bodies and issues addressed in positive and helpful ways. What you can do: Contact your local agencies that do HIV prevention and ask if there are transgender specific materials that they use. If not, offer to help develop some.
  • Further studies on the ways in which HIV impacts transgender people and effective strategies for HIV prevention-one of the barriers to appropriate care of transgender people with HIV is that we simply don' t know exactly how many people are affected by it. Some studies have laid the groundwork for this and need to be replicated and expanded. What you can do: Conduct a needs assessment in your local community. Follow the link for more information about how to do this.
  • Increased economic opportunities for transgender people-transgender people lose their jobs every day, causing them to lose their health insurance and income. Anti-discrimination laws and education to reduce prejudice are critical to helping transgender people stay healthy. What you can do: Hold a job fair for transgender people and work to pass anti-discrimination legislation in your local community (follow the links for more information) and on the federal level.

We, like many others, long for the day when HIV is a thing of the past. Until then, we must continue to advocate for the wellbeing of all people who are living with HIV and all who will become infected in the coming months and years.

*For more information, see the Surgeon General's Fact Sheet on HIV/AIDS and Transgender Persons.

DHS To Drop "No-Match" Enforcement

(November 27, 2007) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has dropped its attempt at enforcing their new "No Match" enforcement procedures, issued in mid-August. The enforcement procedures encountered obstacles from the beginning with a lawsuit by labor and immigration groups blocking the rule's progress only a couple weeks after their issuance. During the rule's open-comment period, many organizations, including NCTE, filed comments opposing adoption of the rules, arguing that the procedures would unfairly jeopardize workers' jobs.

The DHS rules would have required employers to either fire employees or face stiff penalties when employee records do not match information in the Social Security Administration (SSA) database, such as name, Social Security number, or gender. Transgender employees who are listed as one gender in SSA records, but who live and work in another gender, would have been one of the groups at greater risk of losing their jobs as a result of the DHS enforcement procedures.

Last month, on October 10th, the enforcement procedures were dealt a severe blow when the presiding judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the rules, finding that the rules would cause irreparable harm to both innocent workers and employers. DHS signaled its abandonment of these rules on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, by requesting that a judge put the lawsuit on hold until March 2008. DHS plans to introduce new, replacement enforcement procedures, which DHS believes will have a better chance of standing up to legal scrutiny, in December 2007.

Though the DHS enforcement procedures have been pulled, SSA will continue to compare their database against employer-submitted information, as it has for years before the issuance of the DHS rules. SSA has stricter standards for changing gender markers than many departments of motor vehicles, which has lead to employers of some transgender workers receiving notification of gender no-matches. For many of those transgender workers, this notification has effectively unwillingly revealed them as transgender in their workplace.

NCTE provided expertise on No-Matches to the groups who brought the lawsuit blocking the DHS procedures. NCTE will continue to monitor the situation and is working to stop "gender" as a category for data comparison in SSA records.


Mara Keisling on C-SPAN
on Saturday, November 10, 7:45am EST

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, was on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal,"  discussing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  The program was broadcast on Saturday morning, 7:45am Eastern, November 10th.  You can watch the program on the web via streaming media from the C-SPAN Washington Journal webpage.


Substitute ENDA Passes U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Today, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3685 the substitute Employment Discrimination Act by a vote of 235-184.

The staff and board of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) are deeply disappointed by today's action in the U.S. House of Representatives in forcing through a flawed, divisive civil rights bill that virtually no civil rights organization wants and that has virtually no chance to pass into law.

NCTE pledges to continue our efforts to educate Congress and the public around issues of both sexual orientation and gender identity.

We praise the efforts of so many who worked tirelessly to protect all LGBT people, including the members of Congress who stood strongly with LGBT people in asking for protections for all LGBT people. We also express deep gratitude to the more than 350 LGBT organizations who are part of the United ENDA coalition. Transgender people should be comforted in their disappointment today knowing that the preponderance of the LGBT movement has stood with us absolutely rock solidly.

Mara Keisling
Executive Director
National Center for Transgender Equality


House to Vote on ENDA Today

The Baldwin Amendment to put gender identity back into ENDA will be debated for ten minutes and then is expected to be withdrawn prior to a vote.

Two other amendments have been ruled in order and will be briefly debated and voted on.

An unknown Motion to Recommit (MTR) will be offered by Republicans and voted on. (MTRs are explained at the end of this post.)

The bill will be brought up for final vote. We do not know whether it will pass, but traditional wisdom is that leadership never brings up bills that it doesn't have the votes to pass.

Now more detail.

The Final Bill

The bill that is up for a vote is H.R. 3685-it is the one that excludes protections for people based on gender identity. We do not know how many votes it will receive.  Apparently yesterday, it was in trouble so HRC, along with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) wrote a letter to Congress with seven other non-LGBT organizations, strongly supporting the divisive bill.  They also warned Congresspeople that their votes would be criteria for their scorecards which means that even members of Congress who have had perfect civil rights scores for years will be penalized if they make a principled vote NO in protest of gender identity being removed from the bill. Because HRC, for now, has the only national scorecard and national Political Action Committee, their scorecard is a huge consideration for members of Congress and they are understandably concerned that HRC is threatening them with a significant blemish for voting with transgender people and our allies. That official abandonment of transgender people by these organizations yesterday may have therefore changed the vote count but we do not know. Some members of Congress will still make a principled NO vote and LGBT people should rush to support them. 

If the bill passes the House of Representatives today, that is probably the end of the road for it until 2009 since there are insufficient votes in the Senate and the President is certain to veto it.

The tragedy of all this of course is that everyone in Washington agrees that there were sufficient votes in the House for the unified ENDA in September.  The concern that Congressman Frank and others had was whether gender identity could survive a hypothetical Republican Motion to Recommit (see below).

The Baldwin Amendment 

The most important thing to know about the Baldwin Amendment is that Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has worked incredibly hard to get gender identity back into ENDA. Her amendment was an attempt to do just that, but for a variety of reasons including undercutting by HRC and others, the votes are just not there to pass it. Thus, rather than have a failed vote, the amendment is likely to be withdrawn after ten minutes of debate led by Ms. Baldwin.

Other Amendments 

Two other amendments were ruled in order: one from Democrat George Miller (D-CA) that clarifies the religious exemption in ENDA and one from Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) that would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people based on marital status.
 

Motion to Recommit (MTR)

An MTR is a parliamentary device used on the floor of the House to send bills back to committee for further consideration.  By tradition and current rule, the minority party (Republican) is allowed one MTR on each bill. MTRs can be either with instructions or without instructions and they be either "promptly" or "forthwith."  "With instructions" means that a successful MTR sends a bill back to committee with specific changes (such as "add gender identity" or "exempt all religious organizations"). A "forthwith" motion passing means the instructions are accepted by committee and the bill is reported immediate back to the Hosue floor for final vote.  A "promptly" MTR with or without instructions sends the bill off the floor usually for good.  

ENDA supporters will not know what the MTR from the Republicans will be until it happens.  The current most active speculation centers around an MTR that make it okay for anyone who claims a religious problem with gay people to discriminate.

Rep. Frank stripped gender identity from ENDA because he feared that Republicans would offer a "promptly" MTR to strip gender identity and it would pass, killing the whole bill. This is the same hypothetical concern that surfaced (and proved unfounded) when the hate crimes bill came up for a vote in May.  This year, the Democrats have been letting fear of Republican MTRs make a lot of their decisions for them.  This time LGBT people were the victims.


House to Consider Divisive ENDA

(Monday, November 5, 2007) - All signs on the Hill today are that Congressional Leadership plans to send the divisive ENDA that the LGBT community opposes to the floor for a vote tomorrow. We do not have all the particulars just yet, such as whether the Baldwin Amendment will be allowed.  This means that we probably have less than 24 hours to express our opinions to members of Congress.

We will provide more information when it is available.

House committee decides to advance a version of ENDA that cuts out protections for transgender people

(October 18, 2007) - I am writing from the hearing room of the House Committee on Education and Labor. Sadly, I write to report that the Committee just passed by a vote of 27 to 21 the substitute Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that was introduced specifically to exclude transgender and other gender variant people.

We are greatly disappointed that the committee chose to move forward with a bill that is not endorsed by a single LGBT organization. It is historically unprecedented that Congress would pass a civil rights law that the civil rights community--including those it is meant to protect--do not want.

Tremendous effort by over three hundred organizations--including NCTE--and tens of thousands of individuals came close to fixing ENDA after it was precipitously gutted to exclude gender identity and transgender people. Unfortunately, we have fallen short at this stage.

It is not over. NCTE will continue over the next few days to look for opportunities to impact H.R.3685 to return to it the original intent of H.R.2015.

Additionally, because it is very unlikely that any Employment Non-Discrimination Act will be signed into law, NCTE and many of our allies will continue to work to demand an ENDA in the next Congress that meets the needs of the LGBT.

NCTE applauds the efforts of the many individuals and organizations who have worked so hard thus far on behalf of all LGBT people. We especially applaud the very brave NO votes cast this morning by absolutely firm LGBT supporters who voted NO as a statement that ENDA without gender identity is not worth passing. These members, who deserve our thanks for standing so strongly on moral principle include Reps. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH).


 

United ENDA Supports Congresswoman Baldwin's newly announced efforts to restore gender identity protections to Employment Non-Discrimination Act

(Monday, October 16, 9:45pm) - Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced today that she has secured an agreement from the Democratic leadership to introduce an amendment to H.R. 3685 that would restore gender identity protections to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).  The amendment would be considered on the House floor next week, after the bill moves through the House Education and Labor Committee this Thursday.  After her announcement, the United ENDA coalition released the following statement:

Two weeks ago, our community was told that gender identity would not be included in any version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  Congressional Leadership expected our community to acquiesce.  However, United ENDA effectively communicated the strong opposition of hundreds of organizations and millions of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to leadership's efforts to advance a stripped down version of the bill.

It is because of our unprecedented efforts that new options, such as the proposed amendment by Congresswoman Baldwin, are able to come before Congress.  Members of Congress responded to the successful strategy of our coalition and many expressed their strong desire to vote for an inclusive bill that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

Clearly, our preferred strategy is to pass the original ENDA (H.R. 2015) out of committee.  However, if we are faced with a non-inclusive bill following the committee vote, we will work with Congresswoman Baldwin to repair ENDA to include protections on the basis of gender identity.  We appreciate that Congressional leaders like Congresswoman Baldwin continue to share our commitment to pass an inclusive bill, and we expect Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership will actively support the Baldwin amendment.


 

 

Action Alert (October 15, 2007)

House committee meets Tuesday to decide whether or not a version of ENDA
that cuts out protections for transgender people will advance in Congress

Your Representative needs to hear from you TODAY

The House Education and Labor Committee is holding a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the strategy proposed by some House leaders to pass an ENDA that cuts out protections for transgender people.  A committee vote on the bill is tentatively scheduled for Thursday.

A list of Committee members is available at http://edlabor.house.gov/about/members.shtml

Your Representative needs to hear from you TODAY about your opposition to the flawed strategy of advancing a bill that leaves transgender people behind.

Call your Representative right now at 202-224-3121, even if you have already called him/her already about this issue.  Tell him/her to oppose advancing H.R. 3685, the bill that leaves transgender people behind.  Tell him/her to push for a vote on H.R. 2015, the transgender-inclusive ENDA, instead.

Please call today.  You have been asked to do a lot in the last few weeks to support transgender nondiscrimination protections.  The action you take today might make the difference.

 


Action Alert (October 10, 2007)

Tell Congress That an Inclusive ENDA Is Essential!

What is happening... The House Democratic leadership has re-opened a window of opportunity for us to gather support for ENDA H.R. 2015, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. "Our community has spoken with one voice over the last few days to insist that H.R. 2015 remain on the table," said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE.  "That strong voice has worked wonders on Capitol Hill.  Let's keep up the momentum and let our representatives know that we want H.R. 2015 passed." The LGBT community is insisting in a clear voice that ENDA remain a transgender inclusive bill. Leaders and grassroots activists from across the country are connecting daily to strategize, to organize, and above all, to insist that we remain a united, strong community. Our organizations in Washington are working literally around the clock on this issue. And it's working- Congress is hearing us that we will not be divided on this vital civil rights issue.

Who is working on this... Less than 24 hours after the House Leadership announced they would postpone a committee mark-up of a sexual orientation-only nondiscrimination bill due to the tremendous outpouring of community resistance to stripping transgender people from the bill, the organizations that signed a joint letter to the Hill formed a united campaign called "United ENDA" to push for passage of a transgender-inclusive ENDA and oppose any legislation that leaves transgender people behind. You can view the information at www.UnitedENDA.org. The organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Equality Federation, the National Association of LGBT Community Centers, the National Black Justice Coalition, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Pride at Work, National Stonewall Democrats, and many, many others, will meet daily to keep up the pressure on Congress that made such an impact over the weekend. This campaign will allow organizations to better coordinate lobbying strategies, grassroots mobilization efforts, online activism, media, and legal strategies.  The 150+ (and growing) organizations that share this position will continue to do their own lobbying, release their own statements, and mobilize their own members; the unified campaign will make sure that every organization has the latest information from the Hill, the latest strategic plans, and the most up to date reports from the grassroots.

What you can do... Let us take advantage of this amazing opportunity to win civil rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.  There are a number of things you can do right now. We need every person to take action. Your voice could be the one that makes the difference in getting a vote we need on Capitol Hill.

  1. Please take action right now and contact your member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Tell them you want H.R. 2015, the bill that will provide employment protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity. To find your Representative's phone number, go to http://www.house.gov  or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your representative's office. You can also contact your state LGBT organization to find out more about their work with your Representative.

  2. Find out if your Representative is having a Town Hall meeting or other gathering in your District this weekend (check their web pages or call their offices). If so, attend and let your Representatives know that we need a transgender inclusive ENDA to pass. They need to hear from their constituents right now.

  3. Send any responses that you receive from your Representative to ENDA@nctequality.org . We need to know what members of Congress are telling their constituents. This can make a huge difference in our conversations with Congressional leaders.

  4. Ask organizations that you are a part of to join with us on United ENDA. They can sign the statement in support of a transgender inclusive ENDA by sending an email to Lisa Mottet of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force at lmottet@thetaskforce.org. Thank your organizations, unions, and employers if they have already signed on to the project; let them know that their stance is appreciated and the right thing to do.

  5. Blog, write to the editor, or speak out about why this is important and what people can do about it. Forward this email or emails from other organizations you are a part of to folks you know and let them know why you need their support right now.

  6. Be proud of what we've accomplished and know that you are a part of the movement to bring civil rights to all.

In the last five days we can be proud of the work we have done, but we must keep it up.  Members of Congress need to hear your voice, loud and clear.  Tell them H.R. 2015 as written is the bill that the LGBT community needs, wants, and insists on. 


 

NCTE STATEMENT ON THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT

(September 28, 2007) — Yesterday our Congressional allies apparently abandoned the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 2015), the centerpiece of the LGBT legislative agenda, and introduced two new pieces of legislation which separate the protected classes of gender identity and sexual orientation. NCTE firmly rejects this strategy and joins most other national and many state LGBT organizations in actively opposing these two new bills.

Until last week, the majority of our congressional allies and organizational partners were confident that our years of diligent work were ready to bear fruit. We believe that the original version ENDA, which was fully inclusive of both gender identity and sexual orientation, was prematurely abandoned and should still be called to a vote.

NCTE thanks our friends in Congress for the important work that has already been done, but calls on them to return to their efforts to pass this historic piece of legislation.

It is disheartening to see that a bill, drafted over several years through a collaborative effort of LGBT advocates and allies, would be rejected without a vote and without the counsel or assent of a single one of these organizations.

There has been increasing support over the last decade to include transgender people in all local, state and federal legislation designed to end the injustice and inequality which has been perpetrated against LGBT Americans for generations.  In fact there are currently 13 states, the DC and over 100 municipalities which already have passed similar anti discrimination laws to protect people on the basis of both gender identity and sexual orientation. 

It is unacceptable at this juncture in the national conversation about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans that transgender people should be excluded from equal protections under the law.

We call on all members of Congress to remember the promise of the Declaration of Independence that all people are created equally and deserve the assurance of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


 

Senate Passes Historic Hate Crimes Bill (September 27, 2007)

The Hate Crimes Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 1105) was passed on a voice vote of the Senate today, September 27th.  Immediately prior to the voice vote, a cloture vote to end debate of the Amendment was passed 60-39 with bipartisan support.This amendment was already passed on May 3rd in the House by a vote of 237-180.   NCTE is calling on President Bush to sign the bill with this historic provision included.

Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director, says, "While transgender people still have many obstacles to overcome, we are overjoyed that the hard work of so many people is coming to fruition."

The Hate Crimes Amendment extends the federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.

 

Senate to Vote on Hate Crimes Bill

(September 24, 2007) On Thursday, the Senate will be voting on Senator Kennedy’s Hate Crimes amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S.1105). We need you to call your Senators now to urge their support of this critical bill, which would extend hate crimes protections to transgender people.

Please, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 right now; let them know what state you are from and ask to be connected with your Senators.

The language of the amendment is identical to that passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 3, 2007 (H.R.1592). It is vital that you contact your Senator today or tomorrow. As you read this, the Radical Right is mobilizing to oppose the federal hate crimes bill and attempt to prevent its passage in the Senate. They're using scare tactics and flat-out lies in hopes of killing the amendment. Make sure that your Senators hear your voice and how important this bill is to you and our community.

The Hate Crimes bill would:

  • Extend existing federal protections to include "gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability"
  • Allow the Justice Department to assist in hate crime investigations at the local level when local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to fully address these crimes
  • Mandate that the FBI begin tracking hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity
  • Remove limitations that narrowly define hate crimes to violence committed while a person is accessing a federally protected activity, such as voting.

To find your Senators' contact information, please click here.

The time to act is now! Call your Senators today and urge your friends and family to do the same!

 


Kennedy and Smith introduce Hate Crimes amendment.

Call Your Senators Today

(July 11, 2007) Today Senators Kennedy (D-MA) and Smith (R-OR) introduced the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1585), which is being debated in the Senate this week and next. This amendment could be voted on as early as today. In short, today transgender people are one giant step closer to gaining federal hate crimes protections!

The language of today's amendment is identical language to that of S. 1105, which the Senators introduced in April. But to ensure that the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act becomes law, you must contact your Senators now and urge them to support this life-saving legislation. As you read this, the Radical Right is mobilizing their base to oppose the federal hate crimes bill. They're using scare tactics and flat-out lies in hopes of killing Kennedy's amendment. Make sure that your Senators hear your voice and the true importance of this bill.

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act would:

  • Extend existing federal protections to include "gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability"
  • Allow the Justice Department to assist in hate crime investigations at the local level when local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to fully address these crimes
  • Mandate that the FBI begin tracking hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity
  • Remove limitations that narrowly define hate crimes to violence committed while a person is accessing a federally protected activity, such as voting.
To find your Senators' contact information, please click here. The time to act is now! Call your Senators today and urge your friends and family to do the same!

New Updates from Around the Country

(June 7, 2007) Exciting updates to anti-discrimination laws have passed around the county, including news legislation signed by the governors of Iowa, Oregon, Colorado and Vermont.

Iowa – An amendment to the Iowa civil rights code passed extending civil rights protections and non-discrimination provisions to LGBT people in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations, and educational institutions. The bill passed the Iowa Senate 34 to 16 and the House 59 to 37, and was sent to Iowa Governor Chet Culver who signed the bill on May 25.  Also in Iowa, Governor Culver signed a law which mandates that all school districts in Iowa have anti-bullying policies barring harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, among other things, in any school, on any school property, and at any school-sponsored event.  

Oregon – The state of Oregon passed a new law prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accommodation, housing, and public education, among other things. Senate Bill 2 passed in the Oregon Senate 21 to 7 and House 35 to 25, and was signed into law by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski on May 9, 2007. This law will take effect January 1, 2008.  Also attached to this bill was an amendment to the state’s hate crimes law that includes gender identity or expression, making Oregon the 11th state with a hate crimes law that includes protections for transgender people.

In Vermont, on May 22, Governor Jim Douglas signed into law a bill which amends the state’s non-discrimination policies to include “gender identity” as a protected category. The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 27-1 and the House with a vote of 118-28. 

Colorado – Governor Bill Ritter on May 25 signed a non-discrimination bill, prohibiting discrimination in the workplace against LGBT people. Colorado already has laws on the books that protect LGBT people from hate crimes and has a gender-neutral domestic violence law.

Connecticut – The Connecticut State Senate passed SB 1044 and referred it to the House. SB 1044 would amend the current non-discrimination code to add “gender identity or expression” to the list of categories protected from discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and education. If passed in the Connecticut House and signed by the governor, this non-discrimination policy would take effect October 1, 2007 and would make Connecticut the 14th state with a non-discrimination law inclusive of transgender people. 

California – The California Senate passed SB 777, the California Student Civil Rights Act, which would bar discrimination against LGBT people in California’s public schools. This bill would apply to all California public schools, grades Kindergarten through 12th, and applies to textbooks, educational materials, and school-sponsored activities. It also mandates that instructors be trained to recognize and respond to bias-based behavior in the classrooms and on school grounds. California has had an anti-bullying law since 1999 that bars harassment on the basis of one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. This new bill, if passed, would further strengthen that anti-bullying law and require teachers to address issues of discrimination in the classrooms.  The bill has been sent to the California Assembly for consideration.

North Carolina – The North Carolina House passed the School Violence Prevention Act 73 to 46. The School Violence Prevention Act, or H1366, prohibits bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. This is a major victory for North Carolina, since neither the House or Senate of the North Carolina General Assembly has ever passed a piece of legislation of this magnitude with explicit protections for LGBT people. It will now be sent to the Senate for approval. 

New Jersey – An amendment to the Law Against Discrimination which includes “gender identity or expression” protections will go into effect on June 17, 2007. The law was passed by both houses of the state legislature and approved back in December 2006.

Tennessee – A bill requiring that parents sign a written permission slip before students are allowed to become members of or participate in student clubs in public schools moved through committee. If passed, this bill would have the impact of stifling students’ ability to join clubs by requiring parental approval. This legislation is seen has having the greatest impact on organizations like Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA).

Nebraska – The Nebraska Legislature effectively killed a piece of legislation that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status. By a vote of 23-13, Nebraska Senators voted to “indefinitely postpone” the bill, which is one of the few employment non-discrimination bills before a state legislature this session which does not include gender identity or expression.


 

Victories in Connecticut and Vermont

(May 23, 2007) -- Today, by a 30-4 vote, the Connecticut Senate passed an anti-discrimination bill (SB 1044) that is inclusive of gender identity. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration, after which it would go to Governor M. Jodi Rell for signature. Connecticut would be the 14th state in the country to pass state-level non-discrimination laws that include gender identity.

There has been amazing momentum in the passage of anti-discrimination legislation that protects transgender people. In the last two months alone, five states have outlawed discrimination based on gender identity, with Vermont's Governor Jim Douglas having signed that state's inclusive legislation into law just yesterday.


 

Hate Crimes Bill Passes the US House

(May 3, 2007) -- By a vote of 237-180, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1592 after an hour of debate. We now await action in the Senate on an identical bill (S.1105).

"We applaud the House of Representatives for moving this important legislation forward," said Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director. "This is a clear statement that LGBT people are not too hated to be protected from hate crimes. We also send heartfelt thanks to the legislative leaders who led the effort to pass this bill: Reps. Conyers, Kirk, Frank, Baldwin and Shays."

The hate crimes bill would allow the federal government to provide assistance to local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of bias crimes. In addition to continuing coverage of categories already in the federal law, the bill would add the protected categories of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability.

NCTE has prioritized this legislation as one of our three top legislative goals for 2007 and we will continue to commit significant advocacy time to its passage.

A slightly different hate crimes bill passed the U.S. House in September 2005 by a vote of 223-199.

For the text of the bill that just passed, please click here.

 

Background on the Campaign against the hate crimes bill:

The Traditional Values Coalition is calling this bill the homosexual/Drag Queen bill.  They claim that Congress has declared April “Drag Queen Month.”  They have even created what they call a comic in which they lie about us and our motives and even use a picture of NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling speaking with Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin at a recent Congressional hearing (although Mara claims their camera has added weight to her). View their website at: http://traditionalvalues.org/comics/042607/index.php

They claim that this bill is meant to restrict free speech and religious expression.  This is not correct.  NCTE has been part of the drafting process of this bill for several years and I promise you, great care was taken to insure that even hateful speech by people like the Traditional Values Coalition is fully protected.  NCTE and all of our civil rights partners would not be supporting it otherwise.  We believe that radical right wing hate groups as well as mainstream opponents have a right to say hateful things about us. The law ONLY applies when a physically violent crime is commited.

Make no mistakes—something about which they are not lying—when a person who performs as a drag queen is murdered for her gender identity or sexual orientation, which happens with frightening frequency, this bill would include the crime against her, just as it would any other HUMAN BEING.  That is how it should be.


All Iowa Residents and Now Over One-Third of the U.S. Covered by Transgender-Inclusive Anti-Discrimination Protections

Iowa Becomes Tenth State to Pass Trans-Inclusive Nondiscrimination Legislation; Bill Clears Legislature, Awaits Governor's Signature

(April 26, 2007) -- Today Iowa made a historic stride forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender people. With bipartisan support, Iowa's House of Representatives voted 59-37 to approve a bill outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Iowa Senate affirmed their desire to see this bill become law with a concurrence vote of 34-16.

"The National Center for Transgender Equality congratulates advocates in Iowa who helped the Hawkeye state become the tenth state to pass a law that explicitly protects transgender people from discrimination," said Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. "This legislation represents a huge civil rights victory for Iowa's transgender communities, but we must continue to fight for explicitly transgender-inclusive protections on the federal level so people nationwide can access opportunities for employment, housing, and public accommodations without fear of discriminatory practices."

Governor Culver is expected to sign the bill into law thus making it illegal to discriminate in employment, public accommodation, credit, housing and education based on a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against transgender people, now ten states, the District of Columbia and 80+ cities and counties across the country have passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover over one-third of the US population.


 

NCTE Denounces Firing of Largo City Manager

(March 24, 2007) — The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality Florida, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU, and Lambda Legal denounced the discriminatory action of the Largo, Florida City Commission for violating its own nondiscrimination policy as well as state and federal law by firing long time City Manager Steve Stanton after learning that Stanton is transgender. Stanton is one of the most successful and accomplished City Managers in the country and has loyally served the City of Largo for nearly two decades. The Commission’s decision to terminate is a stunning demonstration of bias and intolerance. By choosing discrimination over inclusiveness, the City Commissioners failed Stanton and failed their city. Stanton, who is represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Southern Legal Counsel, will announce whether he intends to pursue litigation next week.


NCTE Applauds Re-Introduction of Federal Hate Crimes Bill to Address Hate Motivated Violence

Bill Again Includes “Gender Identity” and “Sexual Orientation”

(March 20, 2007) — Today the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (LLEHCPA) was re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). LLEHCPA is identical to a bill passed in 2005 by an overwhelming margin. National Center for Transgender Equality joins over 210 civil rights, religious, and civic organizations in supporting this bill. Importantly, virtually every major law enforcement organization in the country has endorsed the bill—including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Sheriffs Association, the Police Executive Research Forum, and 31 state Attorneys General.

Click here to sign NCTE’s online petition in support of LLEHCPA.


NCTE Outraged by Discriminatory Firing of Largo, FL City Manager

Clear Example of Employment Discrimination

(February 28, 2007) — Late Tuesday, the Largo City Commission voted (5-2) to begin the dismissal process of City Manager Steve Stanton following his recent coming out as a transgender person. Stanton has served the Largo community for 14 years.

In 2003, the Largo City Commission rejected a citywide human rights ordinance that would have protected transgender employees from this type of shameful treatment. However, Largo did move forward to approve a policy for all city employees that forbid discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, religion, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. The dismissal of Stanton may be a direct violation of this internal non-discrimination policy.

Currently, there are no federal employment protections for individuals based on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.” The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that is likely to be introduced in Congress this year would provide protections for this type of workplace discrimination.

Statement of Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality:

“This is a crystal clear example of the type of employment discrimination that transgender people experience every day around the U.S.,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality. “Steve Stanton is an exemplary public servant and has served the City of Largo loyally for over a decade. He is being fired for one reason: he made the brave decision to live openly as his true self. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has fought long and hard for federal employment protections to stop just this type of outrageous, disgusting discrimination. Sadly, the firing of Steve Stanton is another in a long, shameful line of examples of why Congress must introduce—and pass—the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).”


 

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