Shortly after noon on Tuesday, members of the UCSB’s Campus Democrats and Queer Student Union marched across campus to rally support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) , a proposed federal law that would prohibit discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation. While two similar bills were introduced to the House of Representatives, House Resolution 3685, which does not prohibit discrimination of employees who are transgender, passed the House on 11/7 by a vote of 235 to 184 and is now on the Senate Legislative Calendar awaiting vote.
“We’re celebrating that we’ve gained some amazing ground,” said Amanda Wallner, a spokeswoman for Campus Democrats who, along with approximately one-hundred other supporters, participated in the rally. Garbed in black, pink and red, the participants wove their way through campus, chanting “The queers and allies will never be defeated!” and “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want it? Now!” drawing the attention of nearby students on foot and bicycle, many of which were forced to yield.
By 1 p.m., the marchers arrived at Storke Plaza, where representatives of Campus Democrats and Queer Student Union, along with two guest speakers, shared their opinions on ENDA. “We want to show our support for other states,” said Nina Garcia, co-chair of the Queer Student Union, who mentioned that although it’s illegal in California to discriminate an employee based on sexual orientation, 31 states currently do not prohibit this form of discrimination.
“This is the modern version of the Salem witch hunts. The only way we’re going to move forward as a people is to move forward together,” said UCSB professor Aaron Belkin, who spoke at the rally. Belkin, professor of political science, offers a course on sexuality minorities in the military , which focuses on homosexuals in the military. “We cannot give into the politics of divisiveness.” Besides omitting gender identity in its scope, H.R 3685 does not apply to members of the Armed Forces, businesses of less than fifteen people and religious organizations.
Daniela Sea, an openly gay actress who portrays a transgender character on Showtime’s The L Word, spoke and sang at the rally, lending support to those who’ve faced adversity for their sexual orientation. “I like seeing all the different factions of people,” she said. “All the good people come out for this kind of stuff. It’s inspiring,”