Hello everyone! My name is Ellie Martinez and I am a recent graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University where I studied Communication Studies and Spanish. Since January, I have had the opportunity to serve as a Legislative Intern at OutNebraska. My role involves monitoring the hundreds of bills filtering through the Nebraska Legislature, actively tracking bills as they relate to the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ individuals, assisting in the creation of policy briefings, staying (virtually) involved with local allied organizations, participating in phone banks, tabling at Pride events, providing resources for LGBTQ+ Nebraskans, and so much more.
I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of such important legislation this year. Some notable bills included adding gender identity to the designated list of hate crimes, prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, prohibiting conversion therapy, eliminating the gay panic defense, providing for a gender neutral designation on driver’s licenses, and eliminating language in Nebraska’s constitution stating that marriage is between one man and one woman. I even wrote personal testimony for a bill that would prohibit discrimination based upon sexual orientation and gender identity. It was a daunting experience to be that vulnerable in front of strangers, but so worth it. I am grateful to have had Mar and Abbi as my mentors through this process, and now I feel confident to do it independently in the future.
OutNebraska provided me with the tools and resources to take my learning into my own hands. Through immersive experiences, training sessions, and textbook reading I have a newfound appreciation for our unicameral. I now know exactly how a bill is passed, from creation to fruition. I not only understand the unicameral’s legislative process, but also how it came to be, its benefits, and the political philosophy that inspired it. Although the legislative process is only one small part of the legal world, having this experience has given me a great foundation to begin law school in the fall.
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with this amazing organization and I am very sad to say goodbye. As I move on to my next adventure in life, I will continue to use the knowledge I’ve gained as I continue to fight for social justice through the legislative process. Thank you OutNebraska for all your hard work and allowing me to be a part of your change making process!