BY A VOTE OF 31-5, NEW JERSEY STATE SENATE PASSES HISTORIC TRANSGENDER EQUALITY BILL -- STATE ASSEMBLY EXPECTED TO APPROVE BILL THIS THURSDAY
New Jersey set to become the third largest state in America, after California and Illinois, to have a statewide law outlawing discrimination based on "gender identity or expression" New Jersey's law would protect the transgender community from discrimination across the board
Monday, December 11, 2006 --
By a vote of 31-5, the New Jersey State Senate has just passed a bill to outlaw discrimination against New Jersey's transgender citizens. Voting "no" were five Republican Senators: Bark, Ciesla, Kavanaugh, Littell and Palaia. The New Jersey State Assembly is expected to pass the bill this Thursday.
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 bold measures to advance the bill; and for the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, the statewide transgender organization.
In 2005 and 2006, Garden State Equality aired the first television commercial in American history on discrimination faced by the transgender community. 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 and GRAANJ held Equality Day at the State House, focusing 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.
Several other organizations deserve tremendous credit for championing transgender equality, including the state's leading progressive blog, BlueJersey.com, as well as the NJLGC and the ACLU of New Jersey.
"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. "When it comes to discrimination against the transgender community, New Jersey sings with one voice: We will not turn back time. Let us share equality for all."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. having lagged behind.
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.
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.