In 2009, Vermonters organized to overcome hate and legalize marriage equality. I remember this fight clearly, as it was my first year in the legislature and one of the most significant advances in civil rights for which I would ever have the privilege to cast my vote. Vermont was a leader then and we need that same leadership now.
While we have come a long way since marriage equality became a reality, the LGBTQIA+ community across the country still faces serious discrimination. And this burden is not felt equally across the community. Specifically, trans women and queer and nonbinary youth have been experiencing the brunt of this hate. As anti-transgender legislation proliferates in many states across this country, it is vital that we set the example in Vermont for what trans rights and protections can and should look like and then lead other states in securing similar safeguards.
In over half of U.S. states, people can still be denied the right to housing, employment, and education based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. We must pass the Equality Act to prohibit this discrimination in every state in America, and I will work hard in the State Senate to advance this important piece of legislation.
We must also stand up for and protect LGBTQIA+ youth who are disproportionately impacted by issues of homelessness, food insecurity, and drug addiction. Legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida only exacerbates the issues currently facing this community. We must also acknowledge that this legislation is often specifically designed to target trans and nonbinary youth, who are at particular risk of experiencing violence and discrimination. I will be an outspoken advocate in Montpelier to provide protection and resources at the federal level for LGBTQIA+ youth.