Notes from the LGBTQ Rights Committee - Shore Area NOW

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Shore Area NOW LBGTQ Rights Committee met on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 at 6:00pm in Eatontown, NJ. In attendance were: Lynn Hansen, Aimee Rabino, Abbie Spector and Jill Stack.

The Committee discussed the boos, coups and wait and sees since the last meeting:

·       Boos

o   On October 5th, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced they would no longer protect transgender Americans from workplace discrimination due to Jeff Sessions reversal of earlier DOJ Policy which protected transgender individuals from workplace discrimination.

o   Kylie Perez, a young trans-identified person, was viciously attacked by classmates at East Side High School in Newark, NJ during the last week of September.Garden State Equality (GSE) worked with the Newark Board of Education on a resolution "Supporting School Safety and Educational Opportunity for LGBTQ Students". The resolution notes that all teachers, administrators and support staff will be provided with professional development training on issues affecting LGBTQ students. GSE felt this is vital because LGBT-inclusive curriculum has been shown to be the single most significant factor in reducing anti-LGBT bias among peers. So we are definitely on the right track working on S1405/A2739.

o   President Donald Trump's nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Jeff Mateer. Mateer has been extremely hostile toward the LGBT community by showing an extensive record of putting religious beliefs above the law.

o   The reversal of the injunction of Mississippi's HB 1523 which allows discrimination based on religious beliefs or moral convictions that:

·        Marriage is only for different-sex couples;

·        Sexual relationships are to be reserved to such a marriage; and

·        The terms male and female refer to an individual’s unchangeable sex as “determined by genetics and anatomy at the time of birth.”

·       Coups

o   A rainbow flag officially went up at noon on October 11th at the Stonewall National Monument in Manhattan, the first such flag to be permanently placed on federal land and maintained by the National Park Service.

o   New Jersey held its First LGBT Health Conference on October 6th in Bridgewater. It was free and hosted by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. This conference was put together to make the LGBT Community aware of laws regarding health care access and insurance coverage to help the community take care of their health.

o   Equality Day at Six Flags Great Adventure will be held on  Saturday, November 11, 2017. Exclusive ride time after the park closes.

o   The Third Shadow of the City Music Festival at the Stone Pony in AP raised funds for the Ally Coalition. The Ally Coalition is dedicated to raise awareness to support homeless LGBTQ youth and LGBTQ equality in support of LGBTQ shelters in the state.

·       Wait and Sees

o   Supreme Court Justices to hear case on religious objections to same sex marriage in 2018.

o   Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, bars discrimination in the workplace based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Does Title VII include sexual orientation? A Second Circuit Appeals Court will be deciding.

 

Lynn announced the following upcoming events:

·       Saturday, October 21st – 3rd Annual Queer Zine Fair in NYC

·       Friday, October 27th – Vendor and Craft Fair in Clinton to benefit LGBTQ of Hunterdon County

·       Friday, November 3rd through Sunday, November 5th - Gender Conference East Weekend in Newark

 

Jill shared that the new state legislation that has come up since our last meeting is AR289: Expresses opposition to President Trump's decision prohibiting individuals who are transgender from serving in military. AR289 was introduced on 8/24 and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee. The LGBTQ Committee decided to take a wait and see stance before taking any action on this bill as President Trump has been quiet on this topic since his tweet in July.

The LGBTQ Committee discussed the actions that were taken since our last meeting in August on the two bills that are our project:

· S1405/A2739 – “Requires boards of education to include instruction, and adopt instructional materials that accurately portray political, economic, and social contributions of persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and Transgender people.”

·  AJR94 – “Supports US Senator Cory Booker’s efforts to persuade Federal Trade Commission to prohibit practice of sexual orientation change efforts.”

S1405/A2739 had been referred to the Assembly Education Committee on February 8, 2016 and is awaiting discussion. AJR94 had been referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee on April 14, 2016 and is awaiting discussion.

In September and October, each LGBTQ Committee Member used media they were comfortable with (email, snail mail, fax, phone calls) to encourage the Education Committee and the Human Services Committee Members to put these bills on their agendas for discussion. There was no response back for most of the team except in the case of Lynn who received a response from Senator Shirley K. Turner (Senate Education Committee Member). Senator Turner shared that the legislature has been on recess since June and is not expected to return to regular session until November. Senator Turner shared that the chair of the Education Committee (Senator Theresa Ruiz) will make the going forward agenda in November for the committee in conjunction with the Senate leadership. The Senate leadership includes Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (who is also the primary sponsor of S1405). Senator Turner recommended that we contact the Senate leadership as well as our district representatives to inform them of our position on S1405.

Lynn then assumed the Assembly (where AJR94 is awaiting discussion) must work the same way as the Senate insofar as setting agendas in November.  The Human Services Committee Chairperson (Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle) must work with the Assembly leadership in agenda setting. The Assembly leadership includes General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald. Lynn recommended we contact the Assembly leadership as well as our district representatives to inform them of our position on AJR94.

The following actions surrounding pushing our bills forward ensued:

· Lynn will draft suggested correspondence to the Senate leadership, Assembly leadership and district representatives to request our bills be put on the agenda for discussion and forward it to the LGBTQ Committee Members.

·  Armed with the above, all LGBTQ Committee Members will reach out (using any and all the mediums that individual members are comfortable with) to the Senate leadership, Assembly leadership and district representatives requesting that discussion be brought to the floor on these bills.

Jill reported on Federal Bill HR2119 (Lieu): Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act. It was introduced in the House of Representatives on April 25, 2017 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce who then referred it to the Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection on April 28, 2017. Jill took the action to identify the members of the Subcommittee where this bill is residing and report on that at our next meeting along with what stage this bill is in. Our group will then discuss what action we can take.

We brainstormed the actions we can take with the general community to push our agenda along. We decided that a start would be to support GSE in their effort to bring an LGBT-inclusive curriculum into the schools as this is in direct support of S1405. GSE works directly with schools and Boards of Education. Aimee took the action to keep track of GSE's activities in the education area and keep the LGBTQ Committee abreast of those activities. With this information, the LGBTQ Committee will discuss how we can support GSE and develop an action plan.

The group then discussed the actions that we can take to grow our committee. One idea the group decided to pursue is to wear shirts at events to identify ourselves and hand out information cards to individuals who inquire about who we are. Jill and Aimee will look into cost-effectively getting the shirts through their friend who is in the business. Lynn will provide Jill and Aimee with shirt sizes. Abbie will start developing the logos to embroider on the shirts.

Lynn will develop the 2018 LGBTQ Meeting Schedule shortly pending input from Aimee. The first meeting will be held in the mid-February timeframe. Stay tuned with http://shorearea.nownj.org/lgbtq-committee.html for details.

Submitted by: Lynn Hansen