I realise that I'm probably going to offend at least a few people with what I'm about to say, but so be it.
Back when marriage equality was going before the NY State Legislature, I can recall how fired up every major pro-gay (I'm not going to say LGBT for reasons that should be obvious shortly) was. My twitter feed was nearly a constant stream of pro-marriage sentiment. Pro-same sex marriage (and anti-same sex marriage) stories abounded across the media. Albany was flooded with supporters. I can recall reading updates on The Bilerico Project from Rev. Emily C. Heath, who came from out of state to show her support in Albany. Gov. Cuomo himself had long since endorsed marriage equality. There was an energy in the air so thick you could have operated an entire gay pride float solely on the sheer rainbow colored exuberance.
Now, a little less than a year later, GENDA was able to pass (for the fourth time) the NY State Assembly, and now needs to pass the Senate in order to become law. For those who are unaware, GENDA provides key protections for Transgender and Transsexual individuals by preventing discrimination based upon gender identity, as well as strengthening hate crime legislation for crimes committed against Transgender/Transsexual. Unfortunately, GENDA faces what could charitably be called an uphill battle in order to become law. Actually, to be more accurate, it's most likely going to be dead on arrival.
Now here's where things get really disturbing. All of the mainstream organizations that put so much effort into marriage equality, now appear to be taking a nice easy rest rather than working to ensure that GENDA at least has a chance at passing. At a time when pro-LGBTQ organizations should be using the momentum gained from the passage of marriage equality in New York State, they instead appear to be applying to the brakes. There is no energy, and barely a whisper of support from any of the mainstream organizations. I have yet to notice a singel pro-GENDA tweet on my twitter feed. I have not heard of any endorsment from Gov. Cuomo and a quick google search turned up nothing.
Furthermore, all of this is occuring with Justice and Equality Day less than a week away, in which GENDA has at least been decided will be the focus. Maybe I'm asking too much, but I do feel the energy is missing. I have not heard of any endorsment from Gov. Cuomo and if there is coalition building going on, it's going on quietly and behind closed doors.
So let me say it: this is complete and utter bullshit. Transgender/Transsexual individuals (even when compared to gays and lesbians) are more likely to be fired from their jobs, be denied housing, or have to deal regularly with the threat of extreme violence. SONDA already exists to protect people from being fired or denied housing based upon sexual orientation, but there exists no such laws to protect against those issues based upon gender identity. That is, it is illegal to deny housing or fire an employee for reasons related to their sexual orientation but perfectly legal to do so based upon gender identity.
Maybe there are reasons for this situation but I'm not interested in hearing them. I'm tempteted to point fingers, but I only have 10. There is no excuse for the lack of effort and the double standards exhibited by the mainstream pro-LGB (and allegedly pro-LGBT) organizations here. There is a long and extensive history of pro-LGB organizations focusing on pro-LGB issues and completely ignoring the needs of Transgender/Transsexual individuals. This history now seems doomed to repeat itself ad nauseum.
If the mainstream organizations could come together and build the necessary coalitions to pass marriage equality in New York, why is it so much harder to pass something much more basic (and more important to the indviduals who would benefit from it) such as GENDA?
Marriage Equality was strongly opposed by multiple organizations, such as National Organization for Marriage, and became a lightening rod of controversy. At this point in time, GENDA has mostly flown under the radar, which at least has prevented it from coming under the same level of scrutiny. Maybe this is part of the strategy being used by the mainstream LGB organizations, keep GENDA's profile low in order to prevent it from earning the same level of scorn.
I really doubt that is the strategy being used though. My sense is that even if GENDA was more in the spotlight, it still would not be facing down the same opposition that marriage equality faced. Try finding clobber verses for the fundamentalists to use against it and you're going to come up short. Furthermore, whereas even state sanctioned marriage is viewed as a religious concept, employment is not typically subject to the same moral scrutiny. In short, I actually think passing GENDA would be easier than marraiage equality, particularly with the momentum that we gained less than a year ago.
Therefore, the question becomes why is it legislation that when compared to marriage equality, should (in theory) be easier to pass and would have a greater impact for the population that has more need of it, be getting the silent treatement?
I have no words other than to say that I am saddened by the mainstream LGB(T?) organizations lack of public support for GENDA. At a time when we could have another victory on our hands, we have only the barest echo of a whisper.