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WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network are jointly starting a new effort to put pressure on Congress to pass the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and approve the repeal the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.
The “Countdown 2010: Act Now to Pass ENDA and Repeal DADT” effort asks supporters to “Meet. Call. Write. Now.”
The ENDA legislation continues to lag in Congress, which is turning its focus on the November elections. And DADT is only halfway home; the House has already approved the repeal while the Senate is scheduled to take up the issue this summer.
ENDA is crucial to the LGBT community in its quest for equal rights. There is no federal law that consistently protects LGBT individuals from employment discrimination; it remains legal in 29 states to discriminate based on sexual orientation, and in 38 states to do so based on gender identity or expression. As a result, LGBT people face serious discrimination in employment, including being fired, being denied a promotion and experiencing harassment on the job.
DADT prohibits gay and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly.
“We need supporters to contact their senators and tell them to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and follow the lead of Chairman Carl Levin who will be managing the defense bill on the floor,” said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. “It is critical that we beat back any filibuster threat, defeat attempts to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments. Senators need to hear from us now, especially in the 10 key states where our combined SLDN and HRC field teams are working now.”
“As we approach the waning days of this congressional session, we must continue to demand immediate action on critical legislation,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said. “LGBT voters and our allies will be keenly aware of congressional action or inaction as the November elections approach.”
HRC and SLDN’s efforts will be specifically focused on 10 states with key lawmakers whose votes on DADT repeal are critical: Arkansas, Indiana, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia.
HRC will also engage the LGBT community and our allies in those states on ENDA in addition to on-the-ground work for ENDA in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Supporters of equality are encouraged to meet with representatives and senators while they are in their districts and states for the August Congressional recess.
To participate, individuals can sign up HERE for downloadable meeting toolkits, videos on in-district meetings and information on how to schedule a meeting and report back on how it went.
“LGBT people and our allies can make a real difference by making their voices heard face-to-face and in the districts where they live,” added Solmonese. “Many of us are frustrated with the pace of progress and this is a way to get involved to make change happen.”