Tell Young, Begich and Murkowski to vote YES on ENDA!

ENDA is a federal bill to protect workers from being fired for being gay or trans, and Congress will be voting on it soon. The haters are cranking up their fear machine to stop ENDA, and the vote will be close, especially in the Senate. In a guest post on Alaska Commons, Tonei Glavinic reminds us that it's time to call our Congress members again.

On Wednesday April 21, over 200 LGBT and allied organizations (including our own Alaskans Together for Equality) issued a one-line statement to members of the United States Congress:

Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act NOW.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA (H.R. 3017/S. 1584) is a federal bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal employment non-discrimination laws, making it illegal to treat employees unfairly based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

For the first time since 1994, when this legislation was initially introduced to Congress, federal lawmakers appear ready to pass the law, furthering LGBT equality by establishing workplace protections that hundreds before us have sought.

At this point, only 40% of the U.S. by population has clear laws in place that protect LGBT people from this type of discrimination. The 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, released in October, shows that workplace discrimination persists, with 44 percent of respondents indicating they have faced discrimination on the job, and 18 percent indicating they experienced discrimination in the last 18 months.

The situation is even more dire for transgender people: the preliminary findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (a project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality) found that 97 percent of respondents reported mistreatment or harassment, and 47 percent had lost their job, been denied a promotion, or were denied a job as a direct result of being transgender. Transgender people also reported twice the national rate of unemployment.

Right now, in most of the country (including Alaska), this happens without recourse. ENDA will change this, but it won't happen without your help. A vote on ENDA could happen in the next two weeks. Will you take two minutes right now to call Don Young's office and tell him that you support ENDA?

Call Rep. Young at 202-225-5765. Give your name and your city and then let him know:

"I am calling in support of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H. R. 3017/S. 1584), which will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from job discrimination. No one deserves to be fired from their job because of who they are. Please vote Yes for ENDA."

If you get voicemail instead of a person, feel free to leave a message - the messages are listened to and count just as much as if you reach a staff member. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you've called in the past, no problem … call again or write or schedule a visit.

Then hang up and call Senators Murkowski and Begich. Murkowski's number is 202-224-6665; Begich's is 202-224-3004. I promise you that based on the work I've done here in DC and the conversations I've had with all three of them that your calls are not a waste of time.

Interested in becoming more involved? Visit the ENDA NOW blog for more ways you can help.

Please pick up the phone and call right now, today – our representatives need to hear that Alaskans support equality.

Tonei Glavinic is an Alaskan queer activist attending American University in Washington, DC. Zie currently works as a Public Policy and Advocacy intern at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and was recently elected Executive Director of American University Queers and Allies. The opinions expressed here are hir own, and not meant to represent any organization with which zie is affiliated.

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