This year we have seen unprecedented movement on LGBT issues in the 111th Congress with long overdue legislation pending in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Today, more than ever before, federal bills provide an opportunity to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people nationwide. From the Uniting American Families Act to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, NCLR is working to ensure that all members of the LGBT community will be included in federal protections.
But it will take all of us to pass this legislation. With the August congressional recess before us, it is the perfect time to schedule meetings with your Representatives and Senators while they are at home in their districts. We know nothing is more effective at moving individual members of Congress than hearing the voices of constituents. Congressional action to end discrimination against our community is long overdue. We must not let this opportunity pass! Even if you have never done so before, I urge you to schedule meetings, make phone calls, and send letters and emails asking Congress to support legislation that protects LGBT people.
We need to hold their feet to the fire, and it will require our entire community to engage with our federal elected officials in order to see change in Congress. Right now, we have the potential to see these three bills reach President Obama’s desk, and he has committed to signing them. It is time for us to unite, to be visible and vocal, and demonstrate that our community deserves the same protections and equality as the rest of the nation. We have accepted our second-class status for far too long. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations of LGBT people to demand that our federal representatives take meaningful steps to end blatant government discrimination against our families.
This is why NCLR is committed to engaging not only in litigation, but also in public education and public advocacy for changes in federal law. We play a distinct but vital role in the arena of federal advocacy, especially in working to ensure that those most vulnerable are included. NCLR has two of our most seasoned attorneys, as well as a full-time ENDA organizer, based in our Washington, D.C. office. We have a long history of being involved in federal legislation—as advisors, policy experts, witnesses, and authors. NCLR is committed to bringing our unique point of view and cutting edge legal expertise directly to lawmakers. We will continue to have the conversations that need to take place. We will continue to be instrumental in building and maintaining coalitions. We will invest the necessary resources to take advantage of the opportunities within reach.
The time is now, my friends. We must be our own fierce advocates.