Saturday, April 25, 2009

We're Here! We're Queer! And we know how to email!

Lots and lots of opportunities these days for you to make your voice heard on a whole host of issues around the country, even if they don't apply to you directly!*

*In the end, everything applies to everyone.

The National Health Interview Survey is a division of the National Center for Health Statistics, based out of the CDC. It is the public health census, essentially, that monitors health related behaviors and conditions. The National Coalition for LGBT Health is pressing (via email, their website is not updated to reflect this) to add questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the NHIS, and has met with some success ... garnering the support of 46 additional representatives and the personal interest of Rep. Whitehouse (D-RI), who is pressing for a $2million allotment in the budget to make this happen. Their recommendation is that you call the Senate switchboard (202-224-3121), ask for your Senator, and then request (once you get their office) the staff person in charge of Health and Human Services appropriations. Tell them that you are a constituent who supports appropriating an additional $2 million for the National Health Interview Survey and that you would like them to sign on. In order to sign on, they need to contact Jordanna Davis in Senator White house’s office by close of business on Tuesday, April 28th. (Means you guys have to contact your Senators on Monday).

***** and the HRC is asking you to contact your Represenatives to support the passing of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HR 1913 -- the Matthew Shepard Act). The vote could come as early as this week after the Judiciary Committee gave it to the full house with a passage there of 15-12. JTI put out an email asking for national call-in days on April 27th, 28th, and 29th (before 5pm EST). From the email:
Most likely, one of the Members interns will answer and ask where you're calling from and why. You're calling to urge the Representative to vote for the Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1913). Most calls end right there. But if you like, you can add:
· Hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are on the rise. One out of every six hate crimes is because of the victim's sexual orientation.
· Hate crimes have more than one victim. They are intended to create an atmosphere of fear and terrorize entire communities.
· The Matthew Shepard Act targets only violent acts – not speech. It does not tell any clergy member what he or she can or can't preach.
· Mention that Rep. 's vote on this bill will affect your future support.
Make sure you contact JoinTheImpact to let them know that you've done it -- if you click on the HRC link above, they will track via their website.


The HRC is asking NH folks to contact the New Hampshire legislature -- not for marriage anymore -- but for something probably a little more important: gender protections. That's right, kids, the state was nearly the next one to legalize equal marriage, but they do not yet protect people based on their gender identity and expression... but neither does Massachusetts, shockingly. The bill is HB 415 and would add gender in anti-discrimination and hate crimes statutes already in place. (The link above mentions also HB 436, the now defunct bill that would have extended marriage protections for same-sex couples.)

Maine's equal marriage bill will shortly be voted on by the joint Judiciary Committee, and Equality Maine is asking residents to email their representatives to get this bill to a vote (and then vote it through the entire legislature). Gov. Baldacci, at this point, may event vote it up, as well. I think for non-Mainers, it may be valid to email as well, especially if you bring up that marriage, in other states, has led to an increase in tourism.


Tennessee, also, will be taking up a hate crimes bill that adds gender to the protected groups -- HB0335, one of the two bills pushed by the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition in this legislative session. The bill is being sponsored by Jeanne Richardson (D-Memphis), and I can't seem to find any indication as to whether it will pass or not. Regardless, it's an opportunity for people from Tennessee to make their voices heard. On a related note, does Ohio have a TransPAC?


And, finally, Texas has an anti-bullying law, entitled "Corinne's Law" that will be hitting the floor of their legislature this week. Texans are urged to contact their representatives and let them know their support. The law will expand current statutes by including electronic harassment, as well as harassment that does not occur on school property.

You know, this took an awful long time.

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