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(c) by Mary Griggs

I attended the Louisiana Rally Against the War on Women today in Baton Rouge and was impressed by the speakers who addressed many facets of women’s rights–from violence against women and victim blaming to reproductive choices; from abortion to the Equal Rights Amendment. While the numbers of those gathered did not break a hundred, it was great to be a part of a nationwide movement to unite women against the attacks from religious extremists and legislators. For more information on the movement, go to http://www.unitewomen.org. The Facebook page for the Louisiana Unite Against the War On Women is: http://www.facebook.com/groups/CAJUNWOW/

I also gave a speech on the Lesbian Agenda that was pretty well received. I’m posting it here:

I’m speaking to you today as a lesbian with an agenda. Yes, it is true—we have an agenda!

Our agenda isn’t so big, so unmanageable, so unrealistic that is an impossible dream. No, our agenda is really quite simple. We want equality. We want to be treated fairly, with the same legal protections as everyone else.

For example:

We want to work without being afraid of losing our job if our boss learns we are not straight.

We want to be safe in our homes and not risk eviction because our landlord sees our lives as a violation of some morality clause.

We want the students of this state to be safe from being bullied for any reason but especially we want them to be safe from abuse because of their real or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.

We want families in this state to be made stronger by laws that focus on the best interest of the child and not on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the parents.

We want loving gay and lesbian couples to be eligible for the same rights and responsibilities of marriage as the meanest murderer on death row who marries their pen pal receives as a matter of course.

We want our transgender brothers and sisters to not be at risk of violence for just being themselves or for using the bathroom of their choice. We don’t want them to face discrimination in health care due to bias against gender non-conforming people.

We want to be free from humiliation or refused service in any public place like a restaurant, a bar or a hotel because we showed the slightest signs of affection to our partners.

We want to walk the streets without fear harassment by law enforcement or other authority because they don’t approve of our orientation or because we can’t conform to their gender binary system.

We want our LGBT service members to, not only serve openly and proudly, but to have their partners treated with the same respect and be eligible for the same benefits as other service members families.

Unfortunately we live in a state where none of these are guaranteed. In fact, we’re in a city that can’t even pass a non-binding resolution to welcome people of all genders and orientations. There is a lot of work to be done but I believe we can do it if we work together.

What unites Americans is equality. It is probably a reason many of you are here today. It will hopefully be what gets you to the polls in November. I call on every one of you to join the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. Equality will be a reality if we stay united!

I want to end by mentioning a couple of bills that will be heard this session:

Senate Bill 100 is a public employee non-discrimination bill that would protect employees of the state from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This bill will be heard on Thursday, May 3. Contact http://www.ForumForEquality.org for more information.

As most of you know, the enumerated anti-bully bill that was written in coalition with educators, disability rights advocates and LGBT activities was gutted in committee and then withdrawn by the author. We thank Rep. Smith for her dedication and we are happy that she has not given up on passage of HB 407 or its sister bill in the Senate SB 619 but we also face several bills, including a religious right to bully bill sponsored by the Louisiana Family Forum that must be defeated.  Go to www.stopbullyinglouisiana.org to find out how you can help protect all of our students.

Thank you!

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