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Protesters again demand ENDA passage

Job bias bill remains pending in committee



Local activists seeking an end to job discrimination against LGBT people protested last week outside the U.S. Capitol, urging Congress to take action on the issue.

Holding signs reading, “I can still be fired for being me” and “1 in 7 LGBTQ face job discrimination,” about one dozen protesters marched along Independence Avenue on May 20 to demand passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The bill, pending in committee in both chambers of Congress, would bar job bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity in most private and public workforce settings.

Supporters have said for months they’re expecting imminent action on the bill, but it has yet to move out of committee in either the House or Senate.

Jay Carmona, a D.C. lesbian, led much of the protest by shouting chants into a bullhorn. She said the protest was held because lawmakers made several promises on ENDA and now Democrats are “silent” on those promises.

“This is something that is really, really important, especially in these tough economic times,” Carmona said. “We can’t afford longer unemployment lines because people are being fired just because of their gender expression or their sexuality.”

Brad Catoe, a gay D.C. resident, said he wants to see ENDA pass because it’s “important for everybody to be treated equally under the law.”

Catoe, whose partner, Brian Fricke, is a gay former Marine and board member of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said passage of ENDA and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are particularly important issues for him.

“Obviously, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is important to me firstly because my partner was in the Marines, but I think that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is also very important to our entire community,” Catoe said. “They’re sort of connected in a lot of ways.”

Last week’s protest got the attention of some people working on Capitol Hill. A Democratic aide told the Blade the action alerted several officials in the Cannon House Building, including Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.).

Still, it was unclear when the House might take action. Federal lawmakers are taking a week off following the Memorial Day holiday.

Organizing the event was GetEqual, the group responsible for several recent protests and rallies in D.C. and elsewhere that have drawn attention to LGBT issues. Although previous GetEqual events have included arrests, nobody was detained during the May 20 protest.

Heather Cronk, managing director for GetEqual, said last week’s protest was intended to “give visibility” to LGBT people and their need for workplace protections.

“While other groups are lobbying and doing phone calls and doing e-mails, we also make sure that we’re feeling visible in that process,” she said.

Cronk, a lesbian who lives in Riverdale, Md., said passing ENDA is important because LGBT people “are one of the few groups left that are not protected by federal law.”

“We can continue working on a local and a statewide level, but folks in middle states who can be fired for who they are need protection at the federal level, so we’re standing up for those folks today,” Cronk said.

Much of the protest was directed at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). At one point, protesters gathered just outside Pelosi’s office in the Cannon House Office Building and shouted, “Nancy Pelosi! We want ENDA!”

In an interview with The Hill newspaper last week, Pelosi said she’s supported passage of ENDA for decades and feels the pending bill is strongly positioned, but expressed some uncertainty about moving forward.

“When the opportunity is there, we want to bring that up, and I hope that will be soon,” she said. “We’ll see what people want to do. It’s not my own personal decision. We’ll just see where we go from here.”

Supporters of ENDA have expressed concern that opponents could use a legislative maneuver known as the motion to recommit to scuttle the bill when it comes to the floor. The maneuver could force a vote on stripping the gender identity provisions from the legislation.



Va. Senate committee kills six anti-transgender bills

Democrats control chamber by 22-18 margin



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Virginia Senate Education Committee on Thursday killed six anti-transgender bills.

The committee rejected state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. All three measures would have banned transition-related health care for minors in Virginia.

The committee also killed state Sen. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake)’s Senate Bill 911, Reeves’ Senate Bill 1186 and Peake’s Senate Bill 962. The measures would have banned transgender athletes from school teams corresponding with their gender identity.

Equality Virginia in a tweet said committee members received more than 3,000 emails “in opposition” to the bills. The statewide advocacy group further noted 10 out of 12 anti-trans bills introduced during this year’s legislative session have been defeated.

“Thank you to everyone who has spoken up against these bills,” said Equality Virginia. “Virginia is remaining a better, more inclusive state because of your efforts.”

“The fight isn’t over,” added the advocacy group. “But we know Virginians will show up for trans youth, day after day.”

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Va. Senate subcommittee essentially kills three anti-transgender bills

Measures would ban transition-related health care for minors



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia Senate subcommittee on Tuesday essentially killed three bills that would have banned transition-related health care for minors in the state.

Equality Virginia in a tweet noted the Senate Health Subcommittee “recommended killing” state Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg)’s Senate Bill 960, state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Colonial Heights)’s Senate Bill 791 and state Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania County)’s Senate Bill 1203. 

“We expect these bills to be officially dead after the full committee meets on Thursday,” said Equality Virginia.

Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, and they have said they will block any anti-LGBTQ bill that reaches their chamber. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly transgender woman seated in a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday reiterated this point.

“With the defeat of these bills in the Senate, our (Virginia Senate Democrats) made it clear that *any* bills in the House targeting trans kids during the final week before crossover will not become law if they make it to the Senate,” she tweeted. “Let’s focus on feeding kids, not singling them out.”

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The White House

Doug Emhoff visits monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin

Second gentleman marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz



The Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism in Berlin on July 23, 2022. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff visited the memorial on Jan. 31, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff on Tuesday visited a monument to gay victims of the Nazis in Berlin.

A readout from Emhoff’s office notes he visited the Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under National Socialism with Philipp Braun of the Lesbian and Gay Federation of Germany, a German LGBTQ and intersex rights group. Christopher Schreiber and Alexander Scheld of the Berlin-Brandenburg Lesbian and Gay Federation were also with Emhoff.

“The Memorial to the Persecuted Homosexuals under Nazi Socialism is intended to honor the homosexual victims of National Socialism and at the same time ‘set a constant sign against intolerance, hostility and exclusion towards gays and lesbians,'” notes the readout.

Emhoff on Tuesday visited other memorials that honor the Sinti and Roma and people with disabilities who the Nazis killed. The second gentleman also visited Berlin’s Holocaust memorial before he met with five people who survived it.

The second gentleman earlier in the day participated in a roundtable with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and met with Ukrainian refugees at Berlin’s New Synagogue. Emhoff on Monday participated in a meeting at the city’s Topography of Terror Museum that focused on antisemitism.

International Holocaust Memorial Day, which commemorates the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland in 1945, took place on Jan. 27. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, traveled to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Memorial and Museum and participated in ceremonies that commemorated the camp’s liberation. He later attended a Shabbat dinner with members of the Jewish community in Krakow, visited Oscar Schindler’s factory and met with Ukrainian refugees at a U.N. Refugee Agency community center before he traveled to Germany.

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