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discrimination

My Bill Died

This legislative session, 1289 bills were introduced in Arizona. Every bill that didn’t receive a First Read by last Friday (February 22, 2019) is dead. If a bill doesn’t get a First Read, it doesn’t get assigned to a committee. If it doesn’t get assigned to a committee, it never gets voted on. I could not find a comprehensive list of all the bills that died (or that are still pending for that matter), but among the dead bills is my bill.

HB2289 would have given Arizona the ability to issue non-binary driver’s licenses. This law would have provided the legal recognition that non-binary people deserve to be treated the same as men and women. It would have helped alleviate the problems that arise when someone’s appearance is discordant to the gender they were assigned as birth.

The currently law only allows for male and female designations on IDs. There are no other options. Even if you present a non-binary birth certificate or a non-binary driver’s license from another state, they can’t issue you a non-binary driver’s license. Even if the MVD wanted to, it can’t issue a driver’s license with “X” for non-binary. (I know. I’ve tried. Ditto for leaving the field for sex blank. The computer won’t process the application without “M” or “F.”)  

During this legislative session, I called or emailed Speaker Bowers’ office almost every day. My friends called and emailed him too.  I never received a response, even when I specifically requested a call back. Each time I asked him to give the bill a First Read and assign it to a committee. My requests fell on deaf ears.

I never asked Speaker Bowers to support the bill. All I asked was that he allow it to be heard.

Issuing non-binary driver’s licenses is not a new idea. Currently, Washington D.C. and 6 states issue non-binary driver’s licenses: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, and Oregon. (Looking at the pending bills and previously passed laws in other states, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont are the most likely states to be next to grant non-binary driver’s licenses.)

Wait. Back up.

Arkansas! One of the states in the “bible belt” is more progressive and accepting of non-binary people than my state!

Granting non-binary people driver’s licenses that match their gender won’t change most people’s lives, and it shouldn’t be that expensive. It’s a matter of updating a form and some computer software. By not even letting the bill be heard, the State is telling non-binary people that we don’t exist, that we don’t matter, that we don’t deserve the same rights and acknowledgement as everyone else. The State of Arizona is saying we’re second class citizens at best.

This hurt. Having my bill die without being given a chance was a slap in the face and a kick in the gut. It made me want to figuratively crawl into a corner and cry.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/34757503063
Image by Ted Eytan from Werk For Your Health (Creative Commons License)

At the same time, I want to scream at anyone who says we don’t exist. I will shop in the men’s and women’s sections if I feel like it. I will cringe every time I hear someone refer to me as “ma’am” or “miss.” I want to take my non-binary birth certificate (thanks California!) and whip it out anytime someone claims we should be forced to use the bathroom based on what gender we were assigned at birth.

We know we exist. I’m not asking for your validation. I just want the same rights as everyone else.

If you’re curious about the status of a bill, you can look it up on the State’s website. A lot of good bills died last week.

Oppose the Salvation Army’s Discrimination

I generally enjoy Christmas. I like the decorations, seeing family and friends, and I absolutely love the music.

One thing I don’t like about Christmas is the incessant sound of Salvation Army bells.

The Salvation Army is a Christian organization that provides a variety of services for the poor and homeless. They are also against same-sex marriage and have a history of refusing services to same-sex couples. You can check out Dan Savage’s blog to read about the gay couple who was told they had to break up before the Salvation Army would help them. In one town, the Salvation Army provided the only shelter for families. They told a homeless family headed by a lesbian couple that the children and one partner could stay at the shelter but that the other partner had to stay out in the cold.

I generally allow people to have their beliefs, but I can’t wrap my brain around homophobia. Why should anyone care who someone else loves? Why do they find it so threatening?

I cringe every time I hear a Salvation Army’s bell.  To me they proclaim, “Gays are wrong.  Give us money to perpetuate discrimination. This business promotes homophobia by welcoming us onto their property.” I feel angry deep into the core of my being every time I hear it.

This year, I decide to do something about this problem. Whenever I see a Salvation Army bell ringer, I take their picture and post it on Twitter with a message about where homophobia is being promoted that day.  I also will not spend any money at any business that has a bell ringer in front of it.

I started asking the bell ringers if they were aware that the Salvation Army opposed same-sex marriage. None of them knew. One of the ringers told me that she personally supported same-sex marriage, and I informed her that by being a bell ringer, she was perpetuating homophobia. I hope it made her think.

I do not oppose charity or charitable giving; however, people have an obligation to know where their money is going and to align their pocketbooks with their beliefs. Please find charities that do not discriminate against same-sex marriage or the LGBT community and give your money to them.

SALK Day 22 – The Foster Group

Today’s sponsor is The Foster Group, a new and unique law firm with offices in Arizona and Indiana.  Founded by Troy and Kristen Foster, The Foster Group is staffed with exceptional lawyers with big firm experience who want to provide the individualized service and care of a boutique law firm.  These lawyers are former partners at large national law firms, have worked for federal and state judges, and have represented large international companies.

Troy Foster’s career has focused on education and employment law.  He has been named one of The Best Lawyers in America for many years.  Troy has also received the highest ratings for ethical standards and substantive ability by his peers.  Kristen Foster specializes in labor and employment law, trust and estates, education and special education law, family law, and media relations.  One of her previous positions was an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona, where she represented Child Protective Services. Along with being on the Boards of Directors for numerous organizations, the Fosters recently founded Henry’s Hope, an organization that is dedicated to the needs of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

The core principles of The Foster Group are commitment, hard work, trust, and dedication.  Their goal is to understand their clients’ needs and to provide them efficient and practical solutions to their problems.  The Foster Group is focused on providing high-quality, cost-effective services and being attentive and responsive to their clients.

The Foster Group specializes in labor law, education law, family law, trusts and estates, civil rights, and transactional corporate and real estate law.  It has a Human Resources Solutions Group that provides trainings, internal investigations, policy revisions, or high-level consultation work to companies.  Recently, The Foster Group has offered trainings in Arizona regarding the recent legalization of medicinal marijuana and its effect on the workplace.  It is also dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of individual who want to have their story heard in the news media, in print, or published in a book.

Troy Foster also offers his services as a mediator. He has experience mediating employment, civil, tort, legal and medical malpractice disputes.  His thoughtful nature and compassionate heart make me an ideal person to help parties resolve their problems.

The Foster Group is a unique and desirable place to work.  Unlike other firms that work their lawyers to death, The Foster Group only requires lawyers to bill 1600 hours per year.  Other firms require their lawyers to bill 1850-2200 per year, which is one of the reasons why lawyers are rumored to be addicted to stimulants and have heart attacks when they are 40.  The Foster Group also has a fun, event-driven bonus system, such as trips to Hawaii.  Additionally, the firm plans to launch a Community Involvement Program where it will hire an attorney to work full-time on pro bono cases.

The Foster Group can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is The Foster Group.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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