At the Consultation: LGBT Equality From Marriage Equality to Trans Rights

April 15, 2015
On April 26-28, hundreds of Reform Jews will gather in Washington, D.C. for the RAC’s Consultation on Conscience, the Reform Movement’s flagship social justice event. On Monday, April 27 at 2:00 PM, Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry, will join Rabbi Denise Eger, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jen Kaufman, Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Judith Schindler, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El, for a discussion on LGBT equality. A live stream will be available on the RAC homepage if you are unable to join us in person at the Consultation. In the meantime, you can brush up on some of the latest developments in the fight for LGBT equality! Marriage Equality: Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor v. the United States striking down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman for federal purposes, a slew of court cases have resulted in marriage equality in the majority of U.S. states. Nearly 72% of the U.S. population lives in a state with marriage equality, and on April 28, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the marriage equality cases. Non-Discrimination Protections: Recent bills in Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina, which would have allowed discrimination against minorities and vulnerable populations, highlighted the need for comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. In the majority of states, it is legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in many facets of life, including employment, housing and public accommodations. Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have both announced that they will jointly be introducing legislation that would offer comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT people. Anti-Bullying Efforts and Banning Conversion Therapy: On the heels of the suicide of Taylor Alesana due to transphobic bullying, President Obama announced his opposition to conversion therapy. Meanwhile, members of Congress have reintroduced legislation to ban bullying against LGBT students (and other protected classes) and to prohibit discrimination in schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Union for Reform Judaism joined a letter this past Tuesday on the latter bill, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, urging the Senate HELP committee to include it in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Transgender Rights: The transgender rights movement continues to lag behind the LGB Rights movement, with transgender individuals facing higher rates of poverty and worse health outcomes than their cisgender counterparts. Violence against transgender individuals, especially trans women of color, continues to be a reality for many trans people, who already face many forms of discrimination. Although the Reform Movement has advocated for transgender rights in the past, the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution this past month on the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in order to strengthen the Reform Movement’s policy on LGBT rights. These are just a few of the many areas in which the fight for LGBT equality continues. To learn more and hear from leading national experts on the issue, tune into our live stream of the LGBT equality plenary at the Consultation on Conference on the RAC homepage at 2:00 PM on Monday April 27.

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