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In an anticipated, but still disappointing compromise between Democrats and Republicans, the House passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act that makes it illegal for an employer:

“to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

While on its face this law might seem like a kind of civil rights triumph (certainly Nancy Pelosi believes so), omitted from this legislation is language that would protect employees on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity. The New York Times reports that Democrats initially included the language for gender protection in ENDA, but removed it to garner Republican support and the chance of Bush withholding his veto. ENDA also includes language that allows religious institutions a blanket exemption from the nondiscrimination policy.

Democrats insist that progress in this civil rights area must be incremental for change to happen at all, but fail to admit the unlikelihood that a protection for gender identity could ever be passed on it’s own without tying it in with a broad base of other protections. Comprehensive legislation that is deferred until all provisions can be included would force the Republicans to lose face on this legislation as many state governments and large corporations already incorporate these protections and support them for promoting justice and economic prosperity. Thankfully the Senate still has to introduce its own version of the legislation, which many hope will restore the gender identity provisions. If you are looking to volunteer with phone banks or otherwise help organize around this issue, there are two organizations active in or near Brooklyn who support Transgender inclusion in legislation.

The Audre Lorde Project:

5 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11217-1607
Phone: 718.596.0342 Fax: 718.596.1328

About the ALP:

The principles guiding the work and development of The Audre Lorde Project as a progressive organiztion seeking social justice are as follows:

Recognizing the full diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, and Transgender (LGBTST) people of color, and our collective histories of struggle against discrimination and other forms of oppression, the Audre Lorde Project has been established to serve as a home base that LGBTST peoples of African / Black/ Caribbean, Arab, Asian & Pacific Islander, Latina/o, and Native/Indigenous descent can use to organize, support, and advocate for our diverse communites.

As such, ALP seeks to work with LGBTST people of color organizations and communities across differences of race/ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and life experiences (e.g. class, immigration status, HIV serostatus, health status, etc.) in order to develop and implement culturally specific and effective programs and services reflecting the needs of our communities.

Volunteer at the ALP:

Have you ever thought of getting involved with the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), but weren’t sure how to plug in? Are you looking for an opportunity to discuss and learn more about the critical issues facing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color communities?

Then come by and help out on our new volunteer night! The second Tuesday of each month! This Tuesday, November 13th 6:30pm! Learn about opportunities to volunteer at ALP. Help create general information guides and fun safer sex kits. We’ll provide the food and fun. Metro Cards provided upon request.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center:

208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212.620.7310 Fax: 212.924.2657

About the LGBT Center:

Established in 1983, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has grown to become the largest LGBT multi-service organization on the East Coast and second largest LGBT community center in the world. Every week, 6,000 people visit the Center, and more than 300 groups meet here. In addition, our myriad meeting rooms are booked months in advance, indicating the community is as hungry as ever for a place to call its own.

We provide groundbreaking social service, public policy, educational and cultural/recreational programs. We also serve as an incubator for grassroots groups that meet here. Indeed, we were the birthplace of organizations such as the AIDS activist group ACT UP and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the principal organization combating homophobia and stereotyping of gays in the media.

Volunteer at the LGBT Center:

An enriching, rewarding, and fun way to participate and to contribute to the community is to volunteer. Nothing takes place at the Center that does not require some level of volunteer energy and expertise. Volunteers fuel the Center’s engine by building community and family. Some come with specific knowledge, such as architects, bankers, lawyers, teachers, painters, parents, event planners and producers, activists, archivists, editors, photographers, and builders. Others come with patience, time, and the willingness to provide whatever support is necessary so long as it benefits the larger community. We, the Center, could not survive and could not serve the community without volunteers.

Sign up to be a volunteer here.

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Hi.

Last Friday I received an email from a co-worker and attached to this email was a coupon from Blockbuster. Excellent. Now, like most 21st century beings I have Netflix, and even though I’ve had the same two unwatched Netflix DVDs sitting under my coffee table for the past month and a half, I felt compelled to utilize this great deal that had fallen onto my lap. This Blockbuster coupon was for two free rentals, two 20 oz. sodas, and a bucket of popcorn. Did you get that? Not just a packet of popcorn but a BUCKET. Impossible to turn down an offer like that. Am I wrong? (Am I?)

So, as one might assume, I went down to my local B-bust after work to collect my goodies. After spending a good half hour deciding which movies I wanted: “8 1/2” and “The Aristocrats” (not to be confused with Disney’s “The AristoCATS”), I made my way to the checkout line. While in line I picked out two sodas (Cherry Cokes) and my bucket of kettle corn. Then, once face to face with the cashier, I handed him my coupon. It was at this very moment, at the initial point of the transaction, I had the realization that maybe, just maybe, this coupon was not valid. As he scanned my printed out email, I saw that the look on the cashier’s face was not a welcoming one. So I asked, “Um, is this coupon not legit?” And he had the courtesy to say, “Let me just check to be sure,” even though by this time we both knew I had fallen victim to a cruel joke.

Hence, I was denied. Denied at the register. While holding two bottles of soda and a bucket of popcorn, no less. The cashier was nice enough though. He asked me if I wanted to keep anything, allowing me the option to say, “You know, I’ll just take everything anyway.” However, I was not about to spend $15 on items that I didn’t even want in the first place. My pride may be strong, but it is not rich. But I did decide to take one movie, I guess my pride is worth $4. Though, I’m sure it was clear that if given the choice, I would’ve just left the store movie-less. And to answer your question, no, I did not have a choice in the matter.

The cashier next thought he’d relieve the situation a bit by putting in his two cents about my film selections stating that, “‘The Aristocrats’ wasn’t all that good.” I responded with, “That’s great. I’m glad you let me know that even my choice in movies is questionable, almost as questionable as my gullibility.” My reply was obviously said out loud in my head only. But I’m convinced my red face spoke volumes on its own. Also, it should be said that I appreciate the cashier’s efforts to alleviate the situation by chatting, but I was not feeling it. Mainly because it was holding up the check-out process.

Therefore, the moral of this story is, don’t ever use an emailed coupon. Unless you have a reliable source backing it up.

 

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