Press

Task Force hails Vermont Legislature's passage of bill protecting transgender people from discrimination

Date: 
May 04, 2007

MEDIA CONTACT:
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
media@theTaskForce.org
646.358.1465

WASHINGTON, May 4  — In a concurrence, the Vermont Senate on May 3 approved a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in several areas, including employment, public accommodations, housing and credit. The measure passed the House on May 2 by a 118–28 vote. It first passed the Senate on March 16 with a 27–1 vote.

If signed by Gov. Jim Douglas, Vermont will join nine states and two similarly pending states that ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. On July 1, when the law is scheduled to take effect, 36 percent of the U.S. population will be protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. Douglas, who last year vetoed a similar bill, has reportedly said he will sign this version.

Over the last several years, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc., has worked with Vermont TransAction and Vermont Rep. Bill Lippert to pass this legislation. The Task Force provided extensive legislative drafting assistance, strategy, talking points and trainings for transgender and allied activists in Vermont, jointly sponsored by the National Center for Transgender Equality. Vermont TransAction is a coalition of individuals and organizations, including the R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center and the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, which worked to pass the gender identity and expression nondiscrimination legislation.

Supporting transgender rights is a longstanding priority of the Task Force. In 1999, the Task Force stopped supporting the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it was not transgender-inclusive. In 2001, the Task Force created the Transgender Civil Rights Project, and it remains the only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organization to have a full-time attorney focusing on transgender-inclusive legislation. Passage of legislation protecting transgender people from discrimination in states that previously passed sexual orientation protections, such as Vermont, continues to be a high priority for the Task Force.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“Without a doubt, transgender people face more discrimination than any other minority in this nation and with Governor Douglas’ signature, Vermont will join the growing list of states that have recognized this gross injustice and taken steps to correct it.

“This victory marks a step toward full equality and we applaud our partners Vermont TransAction, the R.U.1.2? Queer Community Center and the National Center for Transgender Equality for making it happen. We also thank Rep. Bill Lippert for his leadership on this bill, as well as Rep. Jason Lorber and Sens. Diane Snelling and Dick Sears.

“It is now time for the three other New England states that have already banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire —  to follow the lead of Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont and protect their transgender citizens. Equality is not to be divvied out to a select few; it is a fundamental human right for all.”


Statement by Jes Kraus, Vermont TransAction

“We are relieved that our legislators have taken the important step of ensuring that all Vermont citizens are treated equally regardless of their gender identity or other gender-related characteristics. TransAction, a small, hard-working group of trans Vermonters and their allies, has spent two years working with and educating our legislators and fellow citizens to achieve this significant victory for civil rights in our state. We could not have been successful without the tremendous amount of assistance and resources from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project and its director, Lisa Mottet, in particular. She has spent hours sharing her legal knowledge and insight and assisting us at every step of this process.”

–30–

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and 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.