Tell Your Senator You Support LENDA

Yesterday, Senator Troy Carter’s Louisiana Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed out of the Labor and Industrial Relations Committee by a vote of 3 to 1. We are very appreciative of Sen. JP Morrell, Sen. Wesley Bishop, and Sen. Troy Carter for their unwavering support of LENDA (SB 155)!

Protecting people from discrimination is about treating others as we want to be treated. We need to update our laws so all employees, including those who are LGBTQ, are hired, fired, or promoted based on their professionalism, qualifications and job performance — nothing more, nothing less.

LENDA now heads to the full Senate for a vote! Tell your Senator you support LENDA because protecting people from discrimination, including LGBT people, is the right thing to do.

With Equality,

SarahJane Guidry

Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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LENDA Testimony from Dylan Waguespack

The Forum for Equality is pleased to post the testimony on SB 155 from one of our most valued partners in equality. Thank you very much, Dylan, for your bravery and honesty!

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

My name is Dylan Waguespack, and I’m here today representing Louisiana Trans Advocates, an organization working to provide social support, education, and advocacy for and by transgender Louisianans throughout the state.

Every year, I come to the table on this bill or some version of it. At this point, all of you have heard the legal and rational and historical reasons why this legislation is necessary and important. So earlier when I sat down to try and figure out what I would say today, I decided I’d do something a little different this time.

Almost all of you know me. I’ve worked on campaigns, lobbied on other issues, provided untold amounts of research and communications help to members in both chambers.

I’ve been coming to this building for five years. I work hard, and if you’ve had the opportunity to work with me on something, you know that my work product is good. I’ve worked on legislation that has made its way in front of each of you several times, more often than not prompting an immediate and unanimous yes vote from each of you.

I’ve lived in Louisiana all my life. I grew up in New Orleans. I graduated from Ben Franklin High School. I live in St. Gabriel now, on a little farm squeezed between Elayn Hunt Prison and Price LeBlanc’s cow pastures.

I’ve been a Christian all my life and every night before I go to bed, I pray to the same God as each one of you.

Every single person in this room today is more alike than different.

I’m nervous speaking to you today. Public speaking doesn’t make me nervous. But I am because I’m sharing something with all of you today that I’ve never spoken out loud to more than three or four people in this building. I’m transgender. I was born female and have medically transitioned to male under the supervision of professional health care providers.

This isn’t something that I hide. In every other aspect of my life, it’s something that almost all people know about me. Many of you already know this because my medical transition started after many of you met me. And one of the things that makes me proud to be a part of this process is that among the majority of those of you who do already know this about me, it hasn’t been a problem.

But still, I’ve had to squeeze out every last drop of courage in me to come to the table and say it. And that’s because in this building, every year, I’ve witnessed testimony from fellow lobbyists and members of the public and overheard conversations between members of the legislature and others who work in this building that conveyed contempt and disgust for people like me. I’ve even overheard a house member, one whom I’ve never spoken to nor spoken a word about, telling a colleague that they shouldn’t work with me. To avoid me. Not speak to me. Specifically because I’m trans.

I’m young. I’m 25 years old and have decades of work ahead of me, work that I hope keeps me here, in Louisiana. And before coming to the table today, I had to consider deeply what impact sharing this in the public record would have on my career and my ability to do the work I love and whether that outweighed the hope that I could change even just one heart today. Ultimately, I had to put my faith in God and in each of you and tell the truth. Because it’s that important.

It’s that important for the people who are like me but who haven’t had as easy of a path to walk as I have, as great of a support system. People who live in fear, who have to choose every day whether to be honest with the world about who they are and risk discrimination, harassment, and violence or to hide their true selves and have that eat away at them for the rest of their lives. There’s a reason that more than 40% of transgender people attempt suicide. And it’s not because of who we are, it’s because of the way the world responds to people like us.

I believe that most people are mostly good. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to summon the strength to come here today. And I don’t believe that anyone here would make a hiring decision or fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most white people aren’t racist and most men aren’t sexist, but all black people have experienced some form of racism and all women have experienced some form of sexism, big or small. I’m not here to tell you that our struggles are exactly the same, because they’re not. And I’m not here to ask you to solve all the world’s ills. We’d definitely need a few more special sessions if we set our goals that high. But I am asking you to do one small thing to help change one small piece of the world. I’m asking you to pass this bill onto the Senate floor. Because I’m one of the 70% of Louisianans who thinks it shouldn’t be legal to discriminate in the workplace against gay or transgender people.

I want to thank Senator Carter for again choosing to be a voice for people whose voices have been quieted by fear and intimidation. And I want to thank all of you for allowing me the opportunity to add mine to his, on behalf of people like me throughout the state.

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SB 155 Testimony from Forum’s Executive Director

Today, Forum for Equality’s Executive Director testified before the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee in support of SB 155 (the Louisiana Employment Non-discrimination Act). Here are Sarah Jane Guidry’s remarks:

LENDA seeks to update current employment non-discrimination laws. It will include protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by adding the definitions of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” for the first time in Louisiana law.

All people should be treated fairly and equally. That is why it is so shocking to realize in this day and age it is still legal under Louisiana law that someone could fire a hardworking individual because they are gay or transgender.

As hard working individuals, the LGBT community wants to be judged based on performance and qualifications — nothing more, nothing less. We take pride in our work and providing for ourselves and our families by earning a living like every other citizen.

All hardworking people, including those in the LGBT community, should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state, and everyone should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for

themselves and their families. This is what updating this law is all about, because nobody should have to live in fear of being fired because of who they are or whom they love.

Protecting people from discrimination, including gay and transgender people, is about treating others as we want to be treated. Even though we all have different beliefs, what’s most important is focusing on what we have in common: taking pride in our work, respecting coworkers and customers, and getting the job done.

Most employers want to do the right thing, but there are always a few people who will only do what’s right when the law requires it. For those times when good judgement breaks down, we need laws so all employees, including those who are gay or transgender, are hired, fired, or promoted based on their professionalism, qualifications and job performance — nothing more, nothing less.

It is also about striking a balance. Updating our state law would protect gay and transgender employees from discrimination while including reasonable exemptions for small business employers as well as protecting the constitutional rights of churches and religious organizations.

Gay and transgender people are our friends, neighbors, family and co-workers. They work hard, serve in the military, and pay their taxes. When they apply for a job, they should be treated like everyone else and not be discriminated against.

Louisiana’s state motto is “Union, Justice and Confidence” – this should mean a place where people work hard and have faith in their state. Updating our law would help ensure the confidence of gay and transgender citizens of a fair opportunity to earn a living, meet our obligations, provide for ourselves and our families, and to build a better life and a better Louisiana, together.

 

 

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They need to hear from you

Senator Troy Carter’s Louisiana Employment Non-Discrimination Act (LENDA – SB 155) that expands employment protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will be heard tomorrow, Wednesday, May 17th at 8:00am in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

All hardworking people, including those in the LGBT community, should be treated fairly and equally by the laws of our state, and everyone should have the opportunity to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. This is what updating the law is all about! Nobody should have to live in fear of being fired from their job for reasons that have nothing to do their job performance.

All people should have full lived equality in the Pelican State. Tell the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee that you support LENDA and that protecting LGBT people from discrimination is the right thing to do.

With Equality,

SarahJane Guidry

Executive Director, Forum for Equality

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We can be fired in Louisiana

Senator Troy Carter has introduced the Louisiana Employment Non-Discrimination Act. LENDA (SB 155) will include employment protections for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Louisiana’s state motto is “Union, Justice and Confidence” – this should mean a place where people work hard and have faith in their state. Updating our non-discrimination laws to include the LGBT community would help ensure a fair opportunity to earn a living, meet our obligations, provide for ourselves and our families, and to build a better life and a better Louisiana, together.

All people should be treated fairly and equally. That is why it is so shocking that in this day and age it is still legal under state law to fire hardworking individuals because they are gay or transgender.

The LGBT community wants to be judged based on performance and qualifications  — nothing more, nothing less. Tell the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee that you support LENDA and that protecting people from discrimination, including LGBT people, is the right thing to do.

With Equality,

SarahJane Guidry

Executive Director, Forum for Equality

PS. Get your Louisiana Pride t-shirt today! Your contributions toward this work are needed now more than ever. By purchasing and proudly wearing one of these shirts, you are celebrating how far we’ve come – and investing in the work we will continue to do together.

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Give NOLA Day!

Today is #GiveNOLA Day, a 24-hour event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation to support nonprofits in the New Orleans area. We are participating, so make sure to show us some love!

Follow this link to our donation page!

We want to toast to all of those that give to Forum for Equality on GiveNOLA Day – May 2, 2017! And what better place than Treo? Come enjoy their popular handcrafted cocktails with us as we celebrate YOU!

We want to treat all of our donors of $25 or more to a specialty cocktail as we cheer to the victories we’ve made over the past year. Treo will also be donating 10% of all the drinks purchased that evening back to Forum for Equality!

We are looking forward to seeing you at Treo (3835 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana 70119) for an extra-happy Happy Hour! Facebook event page HERE!

You can make a donation to Forum for Equality on Tuesday, May 2nd for GiveNOLA Day here: https://www.givenola.org/forumforequality

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Make an impact on this election

This is a historic week for Forum for Equality and the LGBT Community.

On Monday, Judge Paula Brown was sworn in as a Judge on the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, and this Saturday we can elect Suzy Montero to the Civil District Court in New Orleans. Both have been longtime out and proud members of Forum for Equality. To finish strong, we need your help.

Ways YOU can make an impact:

  1. VOTE!
  2. Ask your friends and family in Orleans Parish to vote for Suzy!
  3. Come out and volunteer with Forum for Equality this Saturday, April 29th as we work to elect Suzy Montero! We will be stationed on Elysian Fields Avenue at Dauphine Street on the neutral ground. Come out and wave signs with us!

Forum for Equality will be out there bright and early starting at 8:00 am and won’t go home till the sun goes down. We will have t-shirts, signs, handouts, drinks, snacks, and a lot of enthusiasm to put an exclamation point on this historic week!

With Equality,

Kenny Tucker
Chair, Forum for Equality PAC

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