Category Archives: news
ENDA has just passed the Senate 64 to 32! It still has to pass in the House, but national leaders are calling it an amazing bipartisan victory (by the way, the outtakes of that video are hilarious). For those of you who don’t know the back history of ENDA, it started back in 1994 and has been revised and stalled and revised and modified and burned for almost TWO DECADES.
So this really is awesome kids.
Below is a message that I sent to the QAPA listserve back in 2007 when ENDA went to the House floor excluding protections for Transgender people. It includes the statements that Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the HRC (yes the Human Rights Campaign is not always equal) sent to their constituents explaining why trans people needed to be sacrificed. This is also the summation of why I will never ever give money to the HRC or ever trust hometown boy Barney Frank.
Please read. This is not acceptable.
In the past few days there’s been a maelstorm of information flying around about the status of ENDA (employment non discrimination act) in the House of Representatives. Barney Frank, (D-Mass) made moves to exclude trans people from ENDA, in order to get it through the House. Right now, GLAD, HRC, and other LGBTIQ groups are protesting the segregation of trans people from ENDA. the following is directly from GLAD:
“We need your help today to ensure that no member of our community is left behind. Contact your Representative, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at 202-224-3121 and let them know that you oppose legislation that is not fully inclusive.
Our Massachusetts supporters have a unique opportunity to impact the course of this legislation by contacting the bill’s sponsor, Representative Barney Frank. Urge Representative Frank and Speaker Pelosi to let Congress vote on the original version of ENDA, HR 2015, the version that was asked for, worked on, and supported by the community.”
For those of you who don’t know, ENDA has previously been marred by an anti trans status. While the HRC repeatedly told the trans community that they would fight for a trans inclusive ENDA, they continually wrote it out in closed meetings. ENDA was created in 1994, and for 10 years, this debate had be going on.
The HRC in late 2004 finally committed to that position.
The HRC’s article and Barney Frank’s letters are below.
> ———— — Forwarded Message: ———— –
> From: “hrc” <email@example.com>
> Subject: HRC’s Statement on ENDA
> Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2007 22:31:16 +0000
> We know that everyone has been waiting to hear from HRC about the status of ENDA. A
> lot has changed since Wednesday.
> Besides trying to ensure that the Senate beat the filibuster on Hate Crimes—an
> achievement which can not get lost in this controversy—we’ve spent the last 48 hours
> gathering information and using all of our resources to stay on top of very fast-moving
> developments on ENDA. Rather than issue public statements and alerts while there was
> still a chance to make the situation better, HRC chose instead to engage directly with allies
> on Capitol Hill in an effort to save an inclusive ENDA.
> During this entire campaign to win an inclusive ENDA, we have been guided by the
> principle of trying to achieve the end result the fastest way possible. Without question,
> that result has been—and continues to be—an inclusive ENDA that covers the entire GLBT
> community. We will continue to use that as our benchmark as we move forward in this
> Unfortunately, we now know what we’re facing. The decision has been made, according to
> statements from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Frank issued this afternoon—the
> House will consider a version of ENDA that does not include gender identity.
> This is not what any of us wanted, and certainly not what we’ve been fighting for. But, it
> has been made clear that the House leadership and bill sponsors are moving forward with
> a non-inclusive ENDA even without the full support of our community. They view this as
> the best opportunity they will have this year to help the largest number of people—and
> have stated that they do not intend to miss this opportunity.
> Passing an inclusive ENDA is the right thing to do for our community, our economy and
> our country. However, we’re facing a stark reality.
> House leadership and the bill’s sponsors very firmly believe that if the House votes on an
> employment non-discrimination bill without gender identity, that legislation will pass—
> again, it will pass even without the support of the GLBT organizations.
> After trying everything at our disposal to change this outcome, we are just beginning to
> come to terms with what that means.
>Since 2004, the Human Rights Campaign’s policy has been to only support civil rights
> legislation that is inclusive of gender identity. That’s why we fought tirelessly for and won
> Congressional approval for a fully inclusive hate crimes bill. We’ve been fighting to pass
> the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for more than a decade. The breaking news that
> the House has decided to move forward on a non-discrimination bill that is not inclusive
> of gender identity is devastating. The Human Rights Campaign remains dedicated to the
> fight for full equality for our entire community and, in light of this new reality, continues
> to consult with members of Congress and our lobbyists to determine how we can achieve
> that goal.
> This has been a long battle. HRC first started the quest for ENDA in 1994 . We’ve been
> pushing for an inclusive bill since 2004. Within two weeks, ENDA could pass the House for
> the first time in history, but not as an inclusive bill.
> For continuous updates please visit the HRC blog at http://www.hrcbackstory. org.
>Pelosi: `ENDA is an Historic Advancement for Gays and Lesbians’
>Washington , D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement this afternoon
> on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act:
>”For my 20 years in Congress, ending discrimination against gays and lesbians has been a
> top priority of mine. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, sponsored by
> Congressman Barney Frank, is an historic advancement for gays and lesbians and their
> families. I am proud to be the first Speaker to bring this legislation to the House floor,
> which was first introduced in 1994.
> “While I personally favor legislation that would include gender identity, the new ENDA
> legislation proposed by Congressman Frank has the best prospects for success on the
> House floor.
>”I will continue to push for legislation, including language on gender identity, to expand
> and make our laws more reflective of the diverse society in which we live.”
>STATEMENT OF BARNEY FRANK ON ENDA
> Being in the legislative minority is easy – pulling together to block bad things does not
> require a lot of agonizing over tough decisions. Being in the majority is a mixed blessing.
> On the one hand, we have the ability to move forward in a positive way on important
> public policy goals. Detracting from that is the fact that it is never possible for us at any
> given time to get everything that we would like, and so we have to make difficult choices.
> But it is important to remember that the good part of this greatly outweighs the bad.
> Going from a situation in which all we can do is to prevent bad things from happening to
> one in which we have to decide exactly how much good is achievable and what strategic
> choices we must make to get there is a great advance.
> The current manifestation of this is the difficult set of decisions we face regarding the
> Employment Non-Discrimination Act. We are on the verge of an historic victory that
> supporters of civil rights have been working on for more than thirty years: the passage for
> the first time in American history by either house of Congress of legislation declaring it
> illegal to discriminate against people in employment based on their sexual orientation.
> Detracting from the sense of celebration many of us feel about that is regret that under
> the current political situation, we do not have sufficient support in the House to include in
> that bill explicit protection for people who are transgender. The question facing us – the
> LGBT community and the tens of millions of others who are active supporters of our fight
> against prejudice – is wheth er we should pass up the chance to adopt a very good bill
> because it has one major gap. I believe that it would be a grave error to let this
> opportunity to pass a sexual orientation nondiscrimination bill go forward, not simply
> because it is one of the most important advances we’ll have made in securing civil rights
> for Americans in decades, but because moving forward on this bill now will also better
> serve the ultimate goal of including people who are transgender than simply accepting
> total defeat today.
>When the bill banning sexual orientation discrimination was first introduced by Bella
> Abzug and Paul Tsongas more than thirty years ago, it was a fairly remote hope. Over
> time because of a good deal of work, education of the general public, and particularly the
> decision by tens of millions of gay and lesbian people over that time to be honest about
> our sexual orientation, we have finally reached the point where we have a majority in the
> House ready to pass this bill. Those of us who are sponsoring it had hoped that we could
> also include in the prohibition discrimination based on gender identity. This is a fairly
> recent addition to the fight, and part of the problem we face is that while there have been
> literally decades of education of the public about the unfairness of sexual orientation
> discrimination and the inaccuracy of the myths that perpetuated it, our educational efforts
> regarding gender identity are much less far along, and given the prejudices that exist, face
> a steeper climb.
> We introduced legislation opposing sexual orientation discrimination with explicit
> inclusion of gender identity for the first time this year. Earlier this session under
> leadership of Speaker Pelosi, we were able to get through the House a hate crimes bill that
> provided protection against crimes of violence and property damage for lesbian, gay and
> bisexual people and people who are transgender. There was some initial resistance to the
> inclusion of transgender people but a very organized effort on the part of Congresswoman
> Baldwin, who took a major role in this, myself, and the Democratic leadership allowed us
> to overcome it, with the support of some of our Republican colleagues.
>We then began the work on passing a transgender inclusive ENDA. I was optimistic at first
> that we could do this, although I knew it would be hard. One of the problems I have found
> over the years of discussing this is an unwillingness on the part of many, including leaders
> in the transgender community, to acknowledge a fact: namely that there is more
> resistance to protection for people who are transgender than for people who are gay,
> lesbian and bisexual. This is not a good fact, but ignoring bad facts is a bad way to get
> legislation passed. I have for some time been concerned that people in the transgender
> leadership were underestimating the difficulty we faced in a broadly inclusive bill being
> Still this seemed to me an effort very worth trying, and, when I testified before the
> Education and Labor Committee on ENDA I spent much of my time explicitly addressing
> the need to include transgender people. In fact, I believe I spent more time on that than
> any other witness. Sadly, as the time approached for the vote to be taken in the
> Committee, we encountered a good deal of resistance. The great majority of Democrats
> remained committed to this, but with Republicans overwhelmingly likely to be opposed –
> even on hate crimes on the critical motion to recommit we were able to retain only nine
> Republican supporters out of two hundred Republican Members – it became clear that an
> amendment offered by Republicans either to omit the transgender provision altogether or
> severely restrict it in very obnoxious ways would pass.
> Responding thoughtfully to this requires people to accept facts. Some have tried to deny
> this unpleasant reality. The Democratic leadership, which is in complete sympathy with a
> fully inclusive bill did a special Whip count. There had been earlier informal Whip counts –
> polls of Democratic Members – that had showed significant support for a bill that included
> transgender, although even these informal checks never showed that we had a majority.
> But Members will sometimes be inclined to give people the answers they think the people
> who are asking the questions want until the crunch comes. In the crunch – the serious
> Whip count taken in contemplation of the bill – it became very clear that while we would
> retain a significant majority of Democrats, we would lose enough so that a bill that
> included transgender protection w ould lose if not amended, and that an anti-transgender
> amendment would pass.
>The question then became how to proceed. There were several choices. One was to go
> forward with the bill understanding that an amendment would be offered to strike the
> transgender provision. There was a proposal to have the Democratic leadership do that in
> what is known as a manager’s amendment, in the hopes of avoiding a divisive roll call on
> the subject. But the Democratic leadership did not want to take the lead in killing a
> provision to which its Members are committed as a matter of principle, and in fact, given
> Congressional procedures, there is no way to prevent a roll call even on that. People have
> claimed that the desire to achieve a roll call is aimed solely at protecting some Democrats
> from having to make a tough choice. That is of course a factor, and asking your
> supporters to vote with you on a matte r that is doomed both to lose itself and to lose you
> votes is not a good way to build up support. But it is also the case that a number of the
> Democrats were prepared to vote for the inclusion of the transgender provision even
> though they knew that it would hurt them politically. The main reason not to put this to a
> vote is our interest in ultimately adopting transgender protection. If we were to push for a
> vote now, knowing that the transgender provision would be defeated by a majority, we
> would be making it harder ultimately to win that support. As recent campaigns indicate,
> Members of Congress who are accused of switching their position on votes are pilloried,
> even when this is done unfairly as it was to Senator Kerry. Thus, forcing a vote on
> transgender inclusion now, which would without any question result in a majority against
> it, would make it harder to win when we have done better in our educational work,
> because Members who vote no now will be harder to persuade to switch their votes than it
> will be to get them to vote yes in the first place, never having voted on this before.
>In addition, going forward in this situation leaves us open to Republican procedural
> maneuvers in which they could succeed not only in getting rid of the transgender
> provision. This would not kill the bill, but it would substantially delay it, and would be
> have very bad psychological effect in a situation in which maintaining the right psychology
> –optimism – is important.
>That is why I believe that a strategy of going forward with a transgender inclusive
> provision that would certainly be stricken at some point in the procedure by a vote in the
> House would be a mistake.
> Leaders in the GLBT community, who strongly support the inclusion of transgender, now
> acknowledge that this would be the case – namely that the transgender provision would
> lose – so their proposed alternative was simply to withhold the bill from the House
>That is, their recommendation was that the Speaker simply announce that she was not
> going to allow the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to come up at all. I believe that
> would be a disaster – politically, morally, and strategically. While the reason for this would
> be the debate over how ultimately to achieve transgender inclusion, the impression that
> would be given to the country was that Speaker Pelosi, the first Democratic Speaker in
> thirteen years, and a lifelong strong supporter of LGBT rights, had decided that we could
> not go forward on what had been the major single legislative goal of gay and lesbian
> people for over thirty years.
> Some in the transgender community and those who agree with them have given a variety
> of strategic arguments why they think it would be better not to go forward. One variant is
> that since the President is likely to veto the bill anyway, it does not make any difference if
> we fail to vote on it. But it should be noted that this is directly contradictory to the
> arguments that the LGBT community has been making for years. That is, we have been
> very critical of arguments that we should not push for votes on anti-discrimination
> legislation simply because it wasn’t openly going to win. People have correctly pointed to
> the value of getting people used to voting for this, of the moral force of having majorities
> in either the House or the Senate or both go on record favorably even if the President was
> going to veto it, and have in fac t been getting Members ready so if that if and when we
> get a president ready to sign this, we are closer to passage. To repeat, the argument that
> we should not take up legislation unless we are sure the President is going to sign it is
> about as opposite to all of the arguments LGBT people have been making for as long as I
> can remember.
>The real reason that people are now arguing that we should withhold any action on the
> antidiscrimination bill unless it includes transgender as well as sexual orientation is that
> they are, as they have explicitly said, opposed in principle to such a bill becoming law.
> That is the crux of the argument. There are people who believe – in the transgender
> community and elsewhere – that it would be wrong to enact a law that banned
> discrimination based on sexual orientation unless it fully included people who are
> transgender. I think this argument is deeply flawed.
> First, I would note that since I first became a legislator thirty-five years ago, I have spent a
> lot of time and energy helping enact legislation to protect a variety of groups from
> discrimination. In no case has any of those bills ever covered everybody or everything.
> Antidiscrimination legislation is always partial. It improves coverage either to some group
> or some subject matter, but never achieves everything at once. And insistence on
> achieving everything at once would be a prescription for achieving nothing ever.
>To take the position that if we are able to enact legislation that will protect millions of
> Americans now and in the future from discrimination based on sexual orientation but
> should fail to do so because we are not able to include transgender people as well is to fly
> in the face of every successful strategy ever used in expanding antidiscrimination laws.
> Even from the standpoint of ultimately including transgender people, it makes far more
> sense to go forward in a partial way if that is all we can do. Part of the objection to any
> antidiscrimination legislation is fear of consequences, which fears are always proven to be
> incorrect. There is a good deal of opposition now to passing even sexual orientation
> legislation. Enacting legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and
> getting a year or two’s ex perience with it, will be very helpful in our ultimately adding to it
> protection for people who are transgender. That is, if you always insist on doing all the
> difficult things in one bite, you will probably never be successful. Dismantling the
> opposition piecemeal has always worked better.
> For these reasons I have proposed along with the Democratic leadership the following
> strategy. First, we have introduced two bills. One will be ENDA as it has historically
> existed, banning discrimination on sexual orientation. A second will add transgender
> protections to that basic scheme. We will move forward with the ban on sexual orientation
> for which we finally – after thirty-plus years have the votes. After we are successful in
> winning that vote, I will urge the Committee on Education and Labor to proceed with our
> next step, which will be to continue the educational process that I believe will ultimately
> lead to our being able to add transgender protections. This will mean within a month or
> two hearing in the Committee on Education and Labor which, unlike the hearings we
> previously had on this bill, will no w be able to focus exclusively on transgender issues,
> and will give people a chance to meet transgender people, to understand who they really
> are, and to deal with the fears that exist. The other options are either to bring a bill to the
> floor in which the transgender provision will be defeated by a significant majority, making
> it less likely that we will be able to succeed in this area in the future, or ask the Speaker
> the House in effect put aside her lifelong political commitment to fairness and be the one
> who announces that we will not pass a bill banning discrimination based on sexual
> orientation even though we have the votes to do it. Passing ENDA in part and then moving
> on to add transgender provisions when we can is clearly preferable to either of these
> Dana L. Campbell
>Member Services Coordinator
>Human Rights Campaign
>1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW
>Washington , DC 20036
Hundreds of Immigrants and Allies from Across State to March Through Boston this Saturday, October 5, for Respect and Reform
Press Conference on Friday lays out collaboration of 50 area organizations in national day of action
BOSTON, MA – On Saturday, October 5, hundreds of immigrants and their allies from across Massachusetts will march through Boston demanding fundamental changes in immigration laws and policies, from the passage of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, to support for bills such as the Trust Act and Safe Driving Bill at the State House. Groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to SEIU chapters will join with some 50 immigrant organizations from across the state in this action, which will culminate in a rally at the Boston Common.
The Boston gathering will be among 166 actions being held throughout the U.S. on October 5 to raise a collective voice for immigrant dignity and respect. These events will occur in 141 cities in 40 states and the District of Columbia, and will include the participation of 13 House Reps, 1 Senator and 2 Governors.
Yesterday, five U.S. Representatives from across the nation introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act,” a bill that contains bipartisan-backed provisions from the Senate immigration bill, as well as the border security bill passed unanimously by the House Committee on Homeland Security. In the actions on October 5, immigrants and their allies will demand that House Speaker John Boehner allow this bill to move forward for the well being of immigrant families and the prosperity of our nation.
Organizers will hold a press conference on the morning before the march, Friday October 4, at 11:30 a.m. in SEIU 32BJ District 615, 26 West Street, Boston MA
Press Conference Speakers Include
- Eva Millona. Executive Director of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
- Roxana Rivera, District 615 Leader of SEIU 32BJ
- Patricia Sobalvarro, Executive Director of Agencia Alpha
- Natalicia Tracy, Executive Director of the Brazilian Immigrant Center
- Magalis Troncoso, Executive Director of Dominican Development Center
- Affected Immigrant Family
DETAILS OF THE MARCH, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5
WHO: Hundreds of Immigrants and Allies
WHAT: March for Immigrant Respect and Immigration Reform
WHERE: Copley square to Boston Common
WHEN: Saturday, October 5, Starting at 12 Noon
SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY
- Buses will come from Fitchburg, New Bedford, Brockton, Lynn, Springfield, Williamstown and Worcester and gather in Boston
- Hundreds of marchers will gather at the corner of Boylston St and Dartmouth St (public sidewalk in front of the Public Library in Copley at 12 noon
- Public figures will be the “Leaders of the March,” guiding participants towards two Bank of America branches on Boylston St. to deliver a letter demanding a public statement against anti-immigrant politics and in support of Immigration Reform.
- The march will continue down on Boylston St. to turn on Charles St.
- Attendees will arrive at Boston Common’s corner of Beacon St and Charles St. to begin the 1 hour program on the stage with music and the testimonies of 3 families and request the commitments of our MA congresional delegation to meet with Speaker Boehner and demand to enact immigration reform NOW.
THE MESSAGE OF THE MARCH
The Boston rally will demand an end to the deportation practices that have driven 11 million immigrants into the shadows, and the passage in the House of Representatives of a comprehensive immigration reform bill with a path to citizenship, which would accord these immigrants the full respect of the society to which they belong and strengthen the economy to which they contribute. Marchers will also call for the passage of important state bills such as the Safe Driving Bill and the Trust Act, measures that would increase the safety of our roads and return real security to our communities
The march will be held at a crucial moment — the final days in which the U.S. House of Representatives can move forward with an immigration reform bill this year. After the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan immigration legislation (S. 744) that includes a pathway to citizenship in June, progress was blocked by House Speaker John Boehner, who refused early this summer to bring any comprehensive bill to the floor of the House. Now, after a summer of actions in which 26 members of Boehner’s Republican party have declared their support for reform, the combined force of labor, community, ethnic and faith organizations will call for Speaker Boehner to stop blocking the passage of comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship —a concept now supported by a bipartisan majority of representatives.
To that end, the rally will call on all members of the Massachusetts delegation to the House — all of them Democrats — to raise their voices publicly for consideration of a comprehensive bill, one with a path to citizenship and without militarization of the border. The rally will begin with a noon and march from Copley square past several branches of Bank of America, which supporters will publicly call to stop supporting Speaker Boehner with campaign contributions.
The New England Coalition for Keeping Families Together: American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLU), American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), ADL’s Latino-Jewish Roundtable, Anti-Defamation League, The African Council, Agencia ALPHA, Berkshire Immigrant Center, Birfly Conexion Juvenil Inmigrante, Boston New Sanctuary Movement (BNSM), Boston College Students, Brazilian Immigrant Center, Brazilian Ministers Network (BMNET), Brazilian Women’s Group, Brockton Interfaith Community, Centro Presente, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores de New Bedford, Centro Comunitario de Trabajadores de Lynn, Chinese Progressive Association, Chelsea Collaborative, Citizenship Brazilian Movement, Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Comite de Refugiados El Salvador (CORES), Dominican Development Center, East Boston Ecumenical Community Council (EBECC), Emerson College Students / EmersonUNITE, Harvard College Act on a Dream, Harvard Kennedy School Students, Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC), Immigrant Worker Center Collaborative (IWCC), Jobs with Justice, Just Communities of Western Massachusetts, La Comunidad Inc, Latinas Know Your Rights, Latinos Unidos de Massachusetts (LUMA), Maria Luisa de Moreno International Foundation, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA Coalition), MassCOSH, Matahari Eye of the Day, MIRA USA, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston, New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees, Oiste?, Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA), REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, SEIU 32BJ/615, SEIU 1199, SEIU Local 509, Student Immigrant Movement, UNITE HERE Local 26, Williams College Students, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD).
For Immediate Release
June 27, 2013
Contact: Ben de Guzman
NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs
Washington, DC: Today, the Senate voted 68-32 to pass long-awaited comprehensive immigration reform, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) sees progress in today’s vote for the Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities we serve, but also some challenges and some hard questions that are yet to be answered as the bill moves to the House of Representatives. We continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform legislation that works for all families, immigrant and citizen, LGBT and straight, alike.
The legislation includes provisions important to AAPI LGBTs, including: a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; elimination of the backlog of family visas; elimination of the one-year deadline to file for asylum; and some specific improvements for conditions in detention centers. Unfortunately, the immigration package also strikes a twofold blow to AAPI LGBT families. The deal ends sibling sponsorship and family sponsorship for married children over 30. After bitter negotiation, it also fails to include the sponsorship privileges for foreign same-sex partners of Americans that married straight couples enjoy.
The vote comes on the heels of a celebrated historic victory for marriage equality at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. The ruling resolves immigration issues for certain binational same-sex couples, but NQAPIA continues to fight for all those affected by the broken immigration system. At least 267,000 undocumented immigrants LGBT, a population that is disproportionately Asian. As crowds cheered on the steps of the Supreme Court, NQAPIA delivered over 2,700 postcards to the Senate in support of comprehensive immigration reform, proving the LGBTQ movement can walk and chew gum at the same time. Joined by Tony Choi, an openly gay undocumented immigrant from Korea, NQAPIA gave postcards directly to Tony’s Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the “Gang of Eight” who pushed the legislation through, as well as Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first openly lesbian Senator.
“We witnessed history this week” said Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs, “and our communities are at the center of all the action on both comprehensive immigration reform and marriage equality. We’ve never been a single issue community, and we’ve proven that the movement can walk and chew gum at the same time. Now we take the fight from the Supreme Court and the Senate to the House, the next battleground for immigration reform.”
Immigration Reform Needs a Comprehensive Approach from the LGBT Community: Boston Asian Americans Weigh In
by Maxwell Ng, Debasri Roy, and Ben de Guzman
Former Representative Barney Frank’s response to Senator Leahy’s decision to withdraw the amendments that would support LGBT binational couples to S744: The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, during the bill’s markup, recognizes the challenging divide before the Senator. By dropping these amendments, he would potentially alienate the LGBT constituency; but on the other hand, the threats of a breakdown of the entire bill on this one issue was real for the Senator. Representative Frank is certainly no stranger to tough decisions about legislation. In 2007, his work on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) created controversy and dialogue within the LGBT community, whose ripple effects can still be felt. Because this is a broader bill and begins to provide some much needed relief for LGBT immigrants, what is needed is not narrowly defined identity politics about which provision serves which community, but both a nuanced analysis of how LGBT communities (immigrant and citizen alike) are affected by this legislation, and a commitment to do better.
We represent the Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA) and Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA), local organizations based in Boston, as well as the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). As Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) who also identify as LGBT, we understand the potential impact of these compromises. As Massachusetts locals, we are thankful for Barney Frank’s service as a leader in LGBT politics, however we emphasize that his voice is not a current representation of the diverse demographics of the LGBT population. We join a growing chorus of voices that recognize the multiple ways in which our intersecting communities have a stake in the current immigration proposal.
We consider any attempt to pit the LGBT community against immigrant rights advocates as a false choice. The current broken immigration system affects the LGBT community in a variety of ways, not just those of us who are in binational couple relationships. There are a number of areas in immigration that need reform that affect many of us who are LGBT. At a recent Boston LGBT Immigration Forum we hosted, an LGBT identifying young person shared her story about the emotional impact of her father’s deportation due to antiquated immigration laws. Her experience reflects the often unseen but just as real consequences of an immigration system that no longer addresses the needs of those who wish to live the American dream.
Additionally, the removal of family immigration categories emphasizes the merit based hierarchy of criteria such as education, employment, and country of origin. These were previously taken into consideration but were not the basis for admission. Many of us share rich personal stories about how our immigrant ancestors came to this country. These stories would not exist if family categories were removed. Today, there are approximately 4 million people trapped in the backlog of family petitions, almost half of which are waiting to reunite with Asian American families, many of which include LGBT members. As S744 moves to the Senate floor, we know that there will be additional opportunities to fight for an inclusive immigration reform.
We are committed to compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform, and we will continue to fight for legislation that achieves this. It is an overdue and necessary step forward for a strong and diverse modern America.
Maxwell Ng, Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA)
Debasri Roy, Massachusetts Area South Asian Lambda Association (MASALA)
Ben de Guzman, National Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
In light of recent events, we just want to emphasize how important community and support systems are. We had the honor of having Marsha Aizumi come speak at Makeshift earlier this month and prior we had a group discussion about coming out (part of our QAPA Speaks Out series). The Boston Marathon bombings showed us that we can unite together to heal. When we are reminded of our mortality, we feel the universal vulnerability that deeply connects us.
When we are struggling with our sexual orientation, coming out, or grief, we turn to those that we love and trust most. Marsha Aizumi showed us the power of a family’s love and acceptance. Our Coming Out discussion revealed that many of us relied on close friends to give us courage and confidence. The Boston Strong spirit that runs through our area now shows that even strangers can instinctively rush to rescue in times of our need. The point is – you never nor should you have to go through any of these life changing moments alone.
We are so thankful for those that have come to our events, and even those who haven’t just yet. QAPA is nothing without the care and consistent support we have received. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if there is something we can help with. We are more reliant on each other than we ever realise, and we hope to see you soon.
Special thanks to Marsha Aizumi for graciously sharing her new book and personal journey with her trans* son. If you would like to read her heartwarming story, please check out her book, “Two Spirits, One Heart.” Special thanks to MakeShift for generously helping us provide the space for the intimate event.
A few weeks ago, our friends John and Belinda at API Famnily Pride poised the question, “How Do We Make The Transgender Community Part Of Our Conversation?
It’s kind of a funny question to ask, since Trans* people are and have been the backbone of the Queer Civil Rights movement.
During Barack Obama’s speech during his inauguration, he passionately linked three locations together: Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement, Selma, the birthplace of the black civil rights movement, and Stonewall, the bar that is often cited as the birthplace of the LGBT civil rights movement.
Note that I said the birthplace of L-G-B-T civil rights. I did not say gay civil rights.
NPR, has since graciously offered a quick history lesson to any who didn’t understand the President’s three references. But in all the synopses of the Stonewall Riots, the “historic” voice was so narrowly presented that anyone reading/listening can easily deny the richness that sparked the next 40 years of civil rights activism. The people who rioted for FIVE DAYS were transvestites and bull daggers and drag queens and cross dressers and nancy boys and fags and faeries and butches and femmes and people like you and people like me. Some of them were on the fringes of society, and yes, it can be argued that some of them were on the fringes of queer society. But they were there and they were the reason why City Hall plaza flies a rainbow flag, and why Pride is celebrated in June.
People often like to separate out the T from the LGB community. I understand. I am a self identified transman, and I can tell you that my own personal journey of identity has been focused around gender and NOT sexuality; a key distinctive difference. However gender expression is such a crucial and HISTORIC piece of the queer rights movement, and safeguarding gender identity is not just protection for Trans* people. It’s protection for everyone who does not fit the image of Suzy Homemaker of John Q. Public. It protects butch lesbians and effeminate men and everyone who isn’t David or Victoria Beckham.
So as we go forward and divide up among our respective Ls, Gs, Bs and Ts, let’s try to remember that it was once “us” verse “them”. And as I sit here wrapped in the comfortable blanket that those brave souls fought to provide for me, I ask you to remember the cataclysmic movement where we defined our spirit of unity and defiance TOGETHER in the face of opposition.
Our hearts and condolensces to his family.
Senator Inouye was the highest ranking Asian American member of the US Government.
It’s Trans Awareness Week (TAW) across the country; that means communities everywhere are busy holding educational and social events. This week of events culminates with an event called Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR): a candlelight vigil where we remember and memorialize people around the world who have died for being Trans or gender non-conforming. TDOR started here in Boston, after a woman by the name of Rita Hester was murdered in Allston just for being who she is: a Trans woman of color.
Rita Hester was murdered in Allston
just for being who she is
When I was still a baby queer, I like so many others trying to figure out identity, searched high and low for community. I had been exposed to the lesbian and gay community; a community that has become it’s own culture, complete with genre music, media icons and cruise ships. As compelling and as shiny as this world of unicorns and rainbows is, it was not where I belonged.
What I found instead, was TDOR, and let me say, it was a stark difference. TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA. There are no Dykes on Bikes or Go-Go boys. It is NOT a celebration. It is a somber, solemn event, where the names of murder victims are read from a frighteningly long list. And as dark as this event can be (there is often weeping involved) it continues to be one of the largest events for the Trans community: a time to be with friends and loved ones, and time to recognize our fallen.
TDOR is not a glitter clad parade down Main Street USA.
I like to remind people that gay pride in the USA was catalyzed by the Stonewall Riots in NYC. On that fateful night in June of 1969, a group of drag queens and butch dykes had the gall to fight back. They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity. The modern gay civil rights movement owes it’s start to Trans and gender non conforming people who were getting abused, killed and persecuted.
They took a stand and said they would not be targeted any longer for their gender presentation or identity.
TDOR is in all our roots. Please remember. To find a TDOR event in your neighborhood, please visit http://www.transgenderdor.org/.
Maxwell N. is an American Asian transman who has lived in Boston for almost 15 years. He is the Vice-Chair of the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition (MTPC), a founding member of the Trailblazers, the Boston based softball team for trans and gender variant people, and serves on the Steering Committee for QAPA (Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance). He is passionate about visibility for Queer Asians, and strives to bring the issues that impact our enriched communities to the forefront. In his professional life, he works as an architect.
So once upon a time, I was a bully.
What can I say, except, the high school food chain was, and is, very hierarchical. There was always someone above you, and if you were me, you were desperate to also have someone under you. I thought that hazing and bullying were a weird societal right of passage. In fact, because I played sports, I expected to be hazed as part of the ritualistic team bonding experience. Older students would talk about getting kidnapped in the middle of the night by the upper classmen and laugh with glee over the shared tomfoolery. I saw those teammates who were all so close, and longed to be part of the group. I *longed* to be bullied. This misguided impression also made me think that as I got older, it was my job to haze those who were younger than me- so that they could also share in the misery.
I didn’t know until after graduation that the actions I initiated and participated in were bullying. My mother conveyed to me that those same underclassmen, would cross the street if they saw me coming, and had been so afraid of me, that they needed to warn their parents about me.
I was shocked. I was horrified. I had become that person. To add further insult, I was under the dubious perception that those people were my friends and that we were sharing in an experience that was fun and funny.
I am an adult now. I am a fully functioning member of society. And in my pursuit of my manhood, I have faced obstacles and oppression and real, real hatred. As a transman, I know what it means to be afraid: afraid of the world around you, of not fitting in, and always being the outcast. And as proud as I am now of the man I am, I am still deeply embarrassed about the actions that I participated in as a teenager.
I am no longer in touch with those that I bullied in high school. And as much as I would like to apologize to them, I can’t assume that they want to communicate with me. I want to believe that they are all doing well, having grown past the awkward years and are now confident and stable adults. So instead of burdening them with my guilt, I shall toss my apology into the sea of the internet, and hope it does some good.
I am sorry for being a bully.
We’re Queer. And we stand against Bullying.