(Image by Tom Morris as part of the LGBT Free Media Collective coordinated by Wikimedia LGBT and WikiQueer)
- Action #1: Yes” on S.393 – The Equality Act.
- Action #2: Tell your legislators to support H.R. 1201/S.424 – International Human Rights Defense Act
- Action #3: Call the chairs of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committees directly.
Action #1: Call your senators, and make sure your friends and family members call theirs. 75% of Americans say ‘Yes” to S.393 – The Equality Act.
As we near the end of another great Pride month, it’s easy to forget how very recent some of our LBGTQ+ rights are – the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states in Obergefell v. Hodges just six years ago, on June 26, 2015, making us one of 29 countries with marriage equality. Then the Trump administration showed us how fragile some of our progress was, banning transgender personnel from serving in the military and excusing those claiming religious beliefs from treating fellow Americans with dignity and fairness. (List here.) Even with Trump removed, our LBGTQI+ community still faces harrassment and discrimination that effect their mental, physical and economic wellbeing. Just this year, GOP-controlled legislatures, ignoring the will of 75% of Americans, passed the largest number of repressive anti-LGBTQ+ bills since 2015. As a result, CA’s attorney general just added five more states to the state-funded travel ban list.
But what about that recent Supreme Court decision that employers can’t discriminate against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity? It doesn’t apply to small businesses that employ as many as one in six Americans. Plus, it doesn’t protect access to housing, prevent denial of services or settle the question of who can use which restroom. (link to tweet here)
The H.R.5/S.393 – the Equality Act would amend existing federal civil rights laws – including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 – to extend protections for LGBTQ Americans, extending protections on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. It would also protect those with special needs. 48 out of 50 Democratic senators are already on board. If you have one, thank them. For those with friends and family in red states, you need to get your friends and family on the phone, every day, giving a piece of their mind to their GOP senators. Every day.
Minimal script for cosponsoring senators: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Sen. [___] for supporting S.393 – the Equality Act. It’s past time to recognize the essential humanity of all our citizens and remove this last bar to equal treatment of our LGBTQI+ community.
Email or call – Minimal script for NON-cosponsoring senators: I’m [writing/calling from zip code] today because I want Sen. [___] to represent my views, those of my family, and the majority of Americans, by adding his/her vote to supporting S.393 – the Equality Act. More than 100 faith groups have endorsed this bill, stating that their support is grounded in the religious belief that all people should be able to live free from the discrimination.
Does the senator believe that the discrimination LGBTQI+ people face is a mere inconvenience for them? Research has shown that it harms those targeted physically, mentally and economically.
Does the senator support families? New anti-LGBTQ state laws are traumatizing kids already endangered by high suicide rates and forcing families to uproot their lives to maintain their childrens’ access to health care.
We’ve had enough. Enough of stripping our friends, co-workers and family of the respect and dignity due them with “refusal” laws. Enough of harming kids to score political points. The anti-LGBTQI+ bills passing in GOP-dominated states are legislative hate crimes. It’s past time to recognize the essential humanity of all our citizens and remove this last bar to equal treatment of our LGBTQI+ community.
Senate cosponsors here. Feinstein and Padilla are both signed on.
Action #2: Tell your legislators to support H.R. 1201/S.424 – International Human Rights Defense Act
While we work on LGBTQ+ issues domestically, we have international responsibilities, as well.
(hrw.org) “The United States has the power, influence, and resources to create positive change for human rights beyond its borders. The global defense of human rights is stronger when the United States joins with others to promote and protect them. Although US policymakers often espouse human rights and humanitarian values, the United States has been inconsistent in defending human rights abroad and has been complicit in or has committed serious abuses in its foreign policies and engagement. The US government has often invoked human rights selectively or to achieve a short-term diplomatic goal. Instead, the president should commit in word and deed to a foreign policy that consistently prioritizes promoting and protecting human rights, not solely as a means to an end.”
Despite a global trend toward decriminalising same-sex acts, participating in such an activity is still punishable by death in six countries (Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and in the northern states in Nigeria) and engaging in activities defined as “gay” is illegal in 71 countries. (see guide here)
Legislation currently before Congress could improve the ways LGBTQI+ rights are supported diplomatically and help us regain our reputation as reliable defenders of human rights worldwide. H.R.1201 /S.424 – International Human Rights Defense Act would build an unprecedented framework into U.S. diplomacy to protect LGBTQ rights worldwide, creating a Special Envoy within the U.S. State Department who would serve as principal advisor to the Secretary of State on LGBTQ issues. It would also provide Congress with a U.S. global strategy to prevent and respond to criminalization, discrimination, and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity along with State Department-issued annual country reports on violations of human rights.
- H.R.1201 is in the House Foreign Affairs Committee; chaired by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
- S.424 is in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Current cosponsors of these matching bills:
- H.R.1201 Rep-check here: This bill is cosponsored by Brownley and Carbajal.
- S.424 senator-check here. Feinstein is signed on, Padilla is not.
Minimal script for your cosponsoring rep./senator: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to thank Rep./Sen. [___] for supporting [Rep.- H.R.1201/Sen. – S.424] – International Human Rights Defense Act and to share my interest with (Rep. – Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee/ Sen. – Sen Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It’s time that we resumed our place in defending LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.
Minimal script for your NON-cosponsoring rep./senator: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want to Rep./Sen. [___] to cosponsor and actively support [Rep.- H.R.1201/Sen. – S.424] – International Human Rights Defense Act and to share my interest with (Rep. – Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee/ Sen. – Sen Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It’s time that we resumed our place in defending LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.
Action #3: Call the chairs of the Congressional Foreign Affairs Committees directly to support H.R. 1201/S.424
Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas – LGBT activists at Cologne Pride carrying a banner with the flags of 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal
Minimal script for Committe Chair : I’m calling from [zip code] in support of [Rep.- H.R.1201/Sen. – S.424] – International Human Rights Defense Act and to urge Committee Chair (Rep. – Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY)/Sen. – Senator Bob Menendez] to get this important bill approved and back to the floor as soon as possible. We’ve waited four years for America to retake its proper place in protecting LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.
- Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chair, House Foreign Affairs Committee (202) 225-5021
- Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chair, (202) 224-4651