Tuesday was Empire State Pride Agenda's annual Equality and Justice Day. Early in the morning, hundreds of advocates boarded buses bound for Albany for a day of lobbying and workshops. The advocates were pushing for the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the Child-Parent Security Act as well as urging "the government to provide funding for programs for runaway and homeless youth and other vital organizations that provide health services to the LGBT community." GENDA would provide protections for transgender people from discrimination and the Child-Parent Security Act would strengthen the parent-child bond in families where both parents are not necessarily the biological parent or the child was created via artificial insemination or other such forms of reproduction.
In the past activists have lobbied for the Marriage Equality Act and the Dignity for All Students Act. This year however focused on transgender and parental rights. Advocate Janet Mock spoke at the event, celebrating grassroots activists and coalition partners. Other speakers included performing artist Ariel Speedwagon and Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff. Advocate Laverne Cox was also in attendance. She wrote about her experience going to Albany the week before with activists from Housing Works. The Housing Works group goes to the New York state capital every Tuesday from January to June to push for the passing of GENDA.
Along with some fabulous speeches, attendees also participated in workshops -- with topics ranging from "Acting Out Loud- Religion, Spirituality and Full Inclusion of LGBTQ Congregants" to "What is Gender Expression Diversity?"--and spoke with New York State lawmakers.
Even if you didn't get a chance to go Equality and Justice Day, you can still contact your senator about GENDA via Empire State Pride's website.