Beginning on Oct. 3, 2013, you will be able to receive Policy Matters directly in your inbox. It will still be posted to the blog, but you will now have the added convenience of delivery, direct to you!
Also, we’ve added a new time-sensitive advocacy section to Policy Matters. At the very top of each edition will be policy items that need your action, whether it’s calls, emails, letters, or rallying in person. Be sure to check the TAKE ACTION section, every other Thursday in Policy Matters.
Take Action: Marriage Equality with your Mayor
PFLAGers are urged to participate in a new initiative from Freedom to Marry titled “Light up the Map” as an effort to get more than 500 Mayors in all 50 states to support the freedom to marry, demonstrated first by joining Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Today, there are 356 Mayors on board. Ask yours to be one, too.
Your PFLAG message: As your constituent, I’m asking you to be a Mayor for The Freedom to Marry to support that love is love and marriage is marriage, including for same-sex couples.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us you completed this call, and tell us if they said Yes, too, please.
Take Action: Save the Date, Oct. 3, 2013, to take action on ENDA
PFLAGers will see an important action alert in the October 3rd issue of Policy Matters. You are encouraged to contact your U.S. Senators on that day as part of the ENDA Task Force’s National Call-In Day, to ask your Senators to vote YES on ENDA when it comes up for a vote and to thank them if they are already co-sponsors of this important bill for workplace equality.
Your PFLAG message: As your constituent, I’m asking you to vote YES when ENDA comes to the Senate floor for a vote because discrimination in the workplace is not a family value.
Important: Please email email@example.com to tell us you completed this call, and tell us if they said Yes, too, please.
IN THE NEWS:
Jennifer Natalya Pritzker Becomes First Openly Transgender Billionaire in Forbes 400
Among the 48 women noted in the The Forbes 400, the annual list of the richest Americans, is the first openly transgender woman billionaire, Col. Jennifer Natalya Pritzker, who voluntarily disclosed her transition on August 23rd and ranks at #327 with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion. There are 11 Pritzker family members on this year’s Forbes 400, which was announced on September 16th. A retired Army lieutenant colonel with 11 years active duty and then 16 years in the U.S. National Guard, Pritzker gave $1.35 million to The Palm Center to create the Transgender Military Service Initiative to sponsor state-of-the-art scholarship about transgender military service and to enhance the quality of public dialogue. Read Forbes' coverage here.
White House In-House Press Pool Adds Its First LGBT Newspaper, The Washington Blade
The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) added three publications to its White House in-town print pool on September 16th,, historically including The Washington Blade, the nation’s capital’s leading LGBT newspaper. Also added were BuzzFeed and The Guardian. The additions join such global powerhouse publications as The New York Times and some smaller outlets such as The Daily Caller. WHCA members on the in-town pools provide fellow press corps members reports on the President’s Beltway-based activities on a rotating basis. Read Politico's coverage of this landmark announcement here.
CW Accepts ZE, First Primetime U.S. TV Series About a Trans Teen and His Family
The CW Broadcast Network gave the nod to an historic television series, this nation’s first with female-to-male transgender teenager as the main character. ZE, titled to represent a gender-neutral pronoun sometimes preferred by gender nonconforming people, is being written by Brooklyn-based writer-playwright Kyle Jarrow and executive produced by Michael London, Executive Producer of the Oscar-winning film Milk. The story will cover the time during and after the teenager discloses his transgender identity to his family and starts presenting and living as male. No cast members or air date have been released. Read more about "Ze" here.
Dallas Pride Issues Family-Friendly Dress Code and Behavior Guidelines
Some considered the announcement an adherence to existing laws and city ordinances governing nudity and lewdness in public. Others called it an outrage when Dallas Pride organizers reminded participants about the need for the event to be family-friendly, and said that nudity and lewd behavior will no longer be tolerated. Parade organizer the Dallas Tavern Guild said the reminder came from law enforcement, not the organization, and called the pushback “much ado about nothing.” The warning was first issued in August at a meeting with representatives from all parade entries. Organizers said establishments with floats featuring dancers have been asked for them to wear swimsuits instead of underwear this year. A detective sergeant responsible for overseeing officers from the Dallas Police Department and Dallas Independent School District said any floats in violation of indecency standards will be warned in the lineup prior to the parade. If they fail to comply before reaching the parade route, they will be removed from the parade and individuals may be charged with class-B misdemeanor indecent exposure. Read more about Dallas Pride happenings here.
ON POLICY, LEGISLATION, AND LITIGATION:Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations (DPBO) Act of 2013 Introduced in Senate and House by Dems and Republicans to Extend Federal Employee Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners
According to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), nearly 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies including some top federal contractors extend employment benefits to domestic partners. On September 19th, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced legislation to extend employee benefit programs to cover the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees to the same extent as those benefits that cover legally married spouses of federal employees. The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013 (DPBO) was introduced as a bipartisan and bicameral bill that garnered 48 other legislative cosponsors as it was being introduced by both chambers of Congress. PFLAG National has added this bill to its Lobby Day list of supported legislation.
AFL-CIO Constitution Now Protects Gender Identity and Expression
The AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation, adopted on September 9th an amendment to its constitution to add specific language to ban discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. The language of the AFL-CIO’s constitution now reads: “To encourage all workers without regard to race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression to share equally in the full benefits of union organization.” The move by the federation was preceded by several of its member unions having already adopted similar provisions in their own policies. The federation is comprised of 57 national and international unions representing more than 12 million workers. Read more about this development here.
South Dakota Transgender Worker Wins Landmark Legal Settlement of $50K; EEOC Backs Victory
Cori McCreery, 29, a store clerk for a private employer in Rapid Valley, SD, is a transgender woman who accused her employer of workplace discrimination. On September 16th she won a settlement of $50,000, the maximum statutory amount in damages possible from a business with fewer than 100 employees. Lambda Legal filed a claim on her behalf in March 2012 because after being promoted in 2010, she was terminated after she announced she would transition from male to female. The settlement also includes public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the workplace on workplace protections, a yearly three-hour all-staff mandatory training on workplace protections, as well as a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery. The foundation for the suit is the prohibition of gender discrimination determined under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, upheld in a ruling in April 2012 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which ruled that transgender and gender nonconforming discrimination is prohibited under current law. That ruling was in another case, Macy v. Holder, filed by the Transgender Law Center, which laid the groundwork for the settlement in McCreery's case. Read about McCreery's current work, the case and a quote from EEOC Chair Chi Feldblum here. It’s important to mention that the EEOC ruling in Macy v. Holder is not equivalent to having an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) becoming law because the EEOC ruling requires a judge to be persuaded by and uphold it. It nonetheless is a powerful tool to enable trans* and gender nonconforming workers to seek legal protection against employment discrimination through this EEOC ruling that can be implemented in all 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), and in four U.S. territories. PFLAG National believes that before we can say that transgender are consistently fully included, we still need an inclusive ENDA, an inclusive Executive Order from the President, federal laws that include housing and education, and state and municipal anti-discrimination laws and ordinances that include gender identity.
Expect Action in Late Fall for Pro-LGBT Legislation Led by ENDA Senate Movement
U.S. Senators and Representatives have returned to Congress for the fall session with hopes remaining high for The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to move to the Senate floor for a vote in late fall. However, ENDA is not the lone federal LGBT-focused bill that is being advanced this fall. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), both of which have language included in the Elementary and Secondary School Reauthorization Act (ESEA) in the House and Senate, are still alive and being considered to be tagged to that or another bill such as The Strengthening America’s Schools Act, which receives the opportunity to reach House and Senate floor votes. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) continues to gain cosponsors and has been introduced in the House and Senate and with leadership by both Republicans and Democrats, and immigration reform, which will possibly include LGBT friendly provisions, is also expected to stir more discussion and action in the fall, possibly in October. Read more about the fall legislative landscape here. and be sure to keep reading Policy Matters for further ways to take action in the upcoming months. And click here to register now for the 2013 National Convention and join us for PFLAG Federal Lobby Day!View an At-A-Glance Summary of State-by-State Marriage Equality Efforts in Push For Fifty
June 26th and the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rulings striking down Section 3 of DOMA and outlawing Proposition 8 in California seem forever ago, . While federal gains for same-sex couples have compounded, the effort moves forward to secure marriage equality in all states. Take a look at your state and others to see the run-down of legal challenges, legislative efforts and referendum progress in all states that do not yet have marriage equality or civil marriage here.
DEAR POLICY MATTERS
Dear Policy Matters:
It’s the middle of September, and I’m excited but feel uncertain about how to be ready to enroll in The Affordable Care Act on October 1st, and being an LGBT person, I heard there’s something special for us called Out2Enroll to get more LGBT people to register for Obamacare. How long do I have to sign up, and when would insurance coverage take effect? I feel like I should know this, but I don’t. Can you help? Can you help me know more about Out2Enroll?
Yes, we can help. From October 1st through March 31st, people can register for Obamacare at www.healthcare.gov, but you won’t find the path to register until October 1st, so if you look today, you’ll find other information but not how to enroll. Don’t be nervous. It’ll be there on October 1st and before then, we’ll do updates in Policy Matters to guide you.
First, as an LGBT person, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a dedicated effort to get us to sign up for healthcare coverage called Out2Enroll. PFLAG National will be active in this initiative as it rolls out on Oct. 1. In preparation for this effort, there was extensive focus group research done to identify what barriers exist for LGBT people to gain access to affordable care, from being asked questions by providers that are not relevant, to having past negative health access experiences to not feeling included in the the messaging outreach for invitations to secure care to the presence of pre-existing conditions, which health insurance companies can no longer use to deny access to healthcare for anyone, including LGBT people.
Out2Enroll’s national mobilizing effort kicks off on Oct. 1 and includes a nationwide, 24/7 Consumer Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 and is available in 150 languages during any call. There will also be a special text service launched on Oct. 1 so that transgender and gender non-conforming people who feel misidentified on the phone if their voice does not appear to match their gender identity or expression. For now, to learn as these elements are being prepared, sign up at www.Out2Enroll.org at the email sign-on in the middle of the screen. After Oct. 1, there will be more information populated there. In advance of that, we are promised to receive emails and an option to receive text messages if we prefer. For now, sign up and receive informative emails. Valerie Jarrett, Special Advisor to the President, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, led an LGBT-focused White House meeting about Out2Enroll last week. You can watch the video of that meeting here.
Here are five steps that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommends to prepare for October 1st to be ready to enroll in Obamacare, applicable for LGBT people and everyone else, too:
- Be sure to sign up at www.healthcare.org now to get advance news items. You can receive emails and text messages to guide you with advice before October 1st. Do it today.
- Know your annual household and individual income.
- Set up a budget. To know what you can spend on insurance, it would help to create a family or individual budget, noting what you have and what you currently can spend for different household and personal items.
- Learn on www.healthcare.gov now how coverage works. Learn the terms so that you know the difference between a co-pay, deductible and monthly premium. Learning that now can make it gentler on you when you sign up on Oct. 1.
- Find local help. Every community health center in the U.S. is set up to assist you with learning about your healthcare needs. There will be navigators, individual counselors set up at libraries and other city facilities across the country in advance of, on and after October 1st. If you have trouble finding a local resource, let us know, and we will help you find one near you.
Good luck! You can view some footage of remarks by Sec. Sebelius here available online here.