More LGBTQ candidates for public office and more local policy reforms will be sought through Equality Guam, a new LGBTQ advocacy group supported by the island's lieutenant governor and public auditor, as well as by the Human Rights Campaign.
The group held its first general membership meeting Saturday to elect part of its governing board and to receive updates from stateside leaders and advocates who are helping to advance fair treatment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans in both federal and local governments. Guest speakers included state house representatives Leslie Herod, a Democrat from Colorado, and Brian Sims, Democrat from Pennsylvania; Ruben Gonzales, executive director of the Victory Institute; and Reggie Greer, White House director of priority placement and senior adviser on LGBTQ+ engagement.
"We need to be in (elected offices) so we can make sure we undo all of the harm and systemic discrimination that has been placed on our family – our peoples for generations," said Herod, who identifies as a queer Black woman. "That's LGTBQ people; that's people of color; that's immigrants, people from different backgrounds – anything other than the ruling class, to make sure we actually are able to have the same progressive and bright future as anyone else."
An example of systemic discrimination against transgender Guam residents is the requirement to complete surgical procedures before the gender on one's birth certificate can be changed. An unsuccessful attempt to update this law was authored by then-Sen. Fernando Esteves in 2018. Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio told The Guam Daily Post that advocacy for trans people will be an active effort from Equality Guam.
"One of the things that has been driving us in this organization is a realization that transgendered residents of Guam are at a considerable economic disadvantage with employment. There's lack of health care. ... It is something that I personally care about. We'll talk about that and strategize about how we respond to this community," Tenorio said.