www.ambiente.us SEPTEMBER | SEPTIEMBRE 2009
Senator Bill Nelson on EDNA
by CJ Ortuño
Miami, Florida... Last week I attended a meeting with Laura Fatovic, Regional Director
for Senator Bill Nelson, the Democratic Senator from Florida, and fifteen
volunteers/constituents to urge that Senator Nelson support ENDA. An hour before the
meeting, we had gathered at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce to collect our
At the meeting, we filled an entire conference room table and had to begin a second
row of chairs behind the first; we event had folks standing up. We had men and
women, gay, straight, and transgender representation. The first thing Laura said was,
“Wow, it is impressive the number of people you have with you.” I introduced myself
and the group began telling their stories.
What a moment in my life, to be at the table and hear the personal stories of how this
single piece of legislation would touch the lives of Americans in all four corners of the
I heard a straight woman speak of her lifelong friend who at the age of 45 decided that
she had to be the person she had always know she was. And how
her troubles of staying employed while transitioning would not have to be the fate of
those who would follow in the same footsteps, if ENDA passed.
I heard a gay man talk about how he does not attend his company
picnics or holiday parties, because he does not want to live a lie.
I heard a friend talk about visits to his lesbian sister in Bradenton,
Florida, where he and his partner have to pretend to be brothers
while visiting her at work. “…law changes attitudes”,
“I’ve made my company 5 million dollars in the past year, but I
can’t be open at work”,
“As the foreman for a grand jury on Homeland Security I’m suited
to protect my country, but can’t mention my boyfriend at work”,
“I graduated magna cum lade from law school and could not get
a return phone call from employers until I removed my
association as president of a gay law group”,
“I do not exist in a big part of my partner’s life… his job.”
These are actual statements from the meeting and a powerful
moment in my career.
After everyone spoke, Laura thanked us for our time. We are hopeful that the Senator
will decide to sponsor and support ENDA.
I saw the rubber touching the road today and it was powerful. We need to encourage
constituents to visit with every U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator, share their
personal stories, and urge their elected officials to take action now. Seeing the human
side of politics reconfirms my belief in the process and refuels my resolve.
We are doing this kind of work with people like you telling genuine stories of
discrimination, prejudice, and triumph. I urge all of you to partner with your organization
of choice to make federal change real. I believe that if we do this in every Congressional
district across the country, we can get ENDA through Congress and to the President’s
A special thank you to HRC for providing us with talking points, volunteers, and
CJ ORTUÑO | Executive Director | SAVE Dade
Safeguarding American Values for Everyone
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