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Monday, November 13, 2006

State Senate Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approves Trangender Equality Bill
-First step toward being
enacted into law

TRENTON
, Monday, November 13, 2006 -- Moments ago, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6 to 0, with one abstention, to approve a bill to provide equality to New Jersey's transgender citizens. The abstention was Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth). The Committee includes Sen. Tom Kean Junior (R-Union), who voted in favor.

The bill now goes to the Assembly Judiciary Committee and then to a vote of the full Assembly and full Senate.

The bill would add a citizen's "gender identity or expression" as a basis for protection under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The bill has been a top priority for Garden State Equality, which has taken a number of landmark measures to advance the bill.

Last year and early this year, Garden State Equality produced and aired the first television commercial in American history on discrimination faced by the transgender community. Garden State Equality will now put the commercial back on the air, effective later this week. You may watch the commercial at www.GardenStateEquality.org and by clicking on Trans Equality on our home page.

This past summer, Garden State Equality, together with the transgender organization Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, held Equality Day at the State House, focusing largely on the transgender equality bill. In September, Garden State Equality, GRAANJ and New Jersey Stonewall Democrats produced a program on transgender equality at the annual Democratic State Conference.

And this Thursday, November 16th at 7:00 pm in downtown Montclair, Garden State Equality and GRAANJ will hold the first-ever Walk for Transgender Remembrance and Equality. We invite you to join us Thursday at 7:00 pm at the First Congregational Church UCC, 40 South Fullerton Street, Montclair, from which we will walk to nearby houses of worship. There will be a free, light dinner for all participants at the end of the Walk.

"Passage of this bill has been one of Garden State Equality's top two priorities, along with marriage equality, from the very founding of our organization," said Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality. "There's work ahead of us, to be sure, but today's victory at the Senate Judiciary Committee dramatically increases the chances that the bill will be enacted soon. We deeply appreciate our magnificent partner, the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey."

Added Denise Brunner of Garden State Equality and GRAANJ: "New Jersey needs this bill desperately. Our state is facing a transgender discrimination emergency, with some of our citizens facing hundreds of job rejections each simply because they are transgender." This past fall, the Democratic State Committee appointed Brunner deputy vice chair of the party, the first transgender New Jerseyan to hold so high a position.

Across the United States, eight states currently have transgender equality laws, including California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Washington State, as well as the District of Columbia. Together, the jurisdictions represent 31 percent of the nation's population, with New Jersey lagging behind.

According to the latest statewide poll on the issue, a 2005 Zogby-Garden State Equality poll, 70 percent of New Jersey supports the transgender equality bill, with only 19 percent opposed. 77 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 59 percent of Republicans support the bill. Support is highest in the African-American community, at 86 percent.

via e-mail received from Garden State Equality 11/13/06

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