Local LGBT Blogger and Advocate Takes Cause to U.S. Capital

Mar 26, 2012

The Affordable Care Act and Marcellus Shale drilling were among the topics of discussion as 150 community representatives from Pennsylvania took part in the annual Community Leaders Briefing (CLB) in Washington, D.C. Friday.

Another topic was gay rights at the state and federal levels.

As Thomas Waters, Advocacy Chair for the Pittsburgh's Delta Foundation, waited in line to enter the White House, he spoke with Essential Public Radio. He urged the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) population to follow his lead.

"My big passion is encouraging every LGBT person or supportive ally to go out and talk to their legislator about how their lives would be impacted by state protections," Waters said. "I want to make sure the President's staff is aware of how important inclusive ENDA is."

ENDA stands for Employment Non-Discrimination Acts. 26 Pennsylvania municipalities including Pittsburgh have gay rights ordinances prohibiting discrimination in employment and housing. But Waters says that Pennsylvania is behind others when it comes to implementing statewide protections for the LGBT community.

"We do not have any statewide protections in terms of employment or housing or public accommodations," Waters said. "We don't have adequate anti-bullying legislation that helps make our schools safe for young queer people."

The overall purpose of the CLB was to give leaders information on tools and resources in their area and spur knowledge of public policy in their communities.