Press

Final Debate On Gay Marriage And Job Discrimination Bills

Date: 
September 09, 1996

The clock is ticking down on what some activists are calling the most historic debates for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the history of the U.S. Senate. Tomorrow, Sept. 10, senators will vote on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The last-minute lobbying wave is now cresting.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has sent out legislative alerts to its nationwide network of activists and members urging them to weigh in on the debate. NGLTF has also taken out a full-page advertisement in Roll Call, the "newspaper of Capitol Hill," that urges senators to vote no on DOMA and yes on ENDA.

The ad states "No to Discrimination and Yes to Fairness," and "Fairness, Equality and Justice, Simple concepts with profound meaning for Americans." It ran in today's issues of Roll Call and is endorsed by 10 major national gay and other civil rights groups, including NGLTF, the Human Rights Campaign, People for the American Way, American Civil Liberties Union, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum, Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, National Advocacy Coalition on Youth and Sexual Orientation, and National Organization for Women.

In addition, NGLTF has set up a toll-free hotline for people to send both their senators a telegram urging them to vote no on DOMA and yes on ENDA, and urging President Clinton to veto DOMA and sign ENDA should they arrive on his desk. The number to call is 1-800-651-1482; telegrams cost $9.95 to send three. People may also call their senators directly through the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202)224-3121 or visit our homepage at http://www.ngltf.org/wuform.html.

"It's important to defeat DOMA and pass ENDA. But no matter what the final outcome on these bills is, we have already made history," said Melinda Paras, executive director of NGLTF. "These debates have broken the legislative log-jam that has blocked Congress from seriously discussing our civil rights. What was unimaginable only a few years ago is happening today. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equal rights have taken center stage in America, and we can never go back to the days of silence."

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.