Friday, January 24, 2014

How Many Times Have We Heard…

We’ll be back for you right after…

This is most prominent in New York, when we were dropped for the non-discrimination bill in 2002 we heard the promise then, we will help pass the gender inclusive non-discrimination law, GENDA. Well we are still waiting. Then in April of 2008, the Empire Pride Agenda scheduled a big rally for GENDA legislation, however, a few days before the rally Governor Paterson said that he supported marriage equality…BAM, over night the rally focus became marriage equality and we had tire tracks over us again.

Autostraddle has an article by Casey Quinlan about the failed promise,
New York Can Pass Same-Sex Marriage But Not Trans* Protections: How GENDA Died

A few months ago, a bill supporting the rights of transgender and other gender nonconforming people failed to come up for a vote in the New York State Senate. It died quietly years after Republicans and Democrats came together to vote in support of same sex marriage. Like most failed legislative efforts, there usually isn’t one clear-cut reason for its downfall. A myriad of forces were working against the bill: a coterie of Democrats aligned with Republicans, a lack of unity in the advocacy community and a wider political problem in how elected leaders perceive Americans’ opinions of transgender people.

Let’s start with the obvious: The bill wasn’t prioritized as same sex marriage efforts were, which is not a story only familiar to New York, but the whole country. Same sex marriage has been the central focus of major LGBT rights organizations for years, to the consternation of many LGBT rights activists, who believe issues that impact impoverished people, and/or people of color, have been neglected. After DOMA, one would think this would be the best time for activists to shine a light on other issues, such as hate crimes against LGBT people.

But that hasn’t proven to be the case, at least in New York.
The article goes on to say that the organizations spent over $1 million to lobby for marriage equality but only $250,000 on GENDA. It points out that the Empire State Pride Agenda ad campaign doesn’t use the word “transgender” or show any trans-people in the ads, it says that,
A video that is basically the same as the radio advertisement showed on local television stations as well, showing a map of the United States, and captions, but never mentioned the word “transgender” or showed any photos of actual transgender people or gender nonconforming people. Contrast that advertisement with an ESPA advertisement run in 2009 campaigning for same sex marriage rights, named “Barb & Don,” in which an older couple talks about their daughter’s wife and children. It is a heartbreaking ad because you see the people ESPA is fighting for. Photo after photo is shown of Amy and her wife and daughter. Both television ads lasted 30 seconds.
There doesn’t seem to be the same drive from some of the organizations that worked for marriage equality. The article also cites the lack of trans-leadership,
Sallans [a trans-man who speaks as an activist on transgender issues] said that one of the most significant issues preventing the kind of engagement that is necessary for legislative victories from happening is the lack of transgender people in those organizations’ leadership.
The legislature and the governor does not seem to be behind the bill but the public is,
A poll of 600 New York voters by Global Strategy Group found that 78 percent supported its passage. Seventy-nine percent of New York City residents, 82 percent of downstate suburban voters and 74 percent of Upstate New York voters supported it. Even 67 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Independents polled supported the bill.

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