April 30, 2013

Assembly Approves Landmark Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, bill sponsor Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Governmental Operations Committee Chair Steve Englebright, and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). The measure would protect transgender New Yorkers from discrimination under the state's Human Rights Law.

"For too long, transgender New Yorkers have struggled to gain employment, safe housing and educational opportunities because of a loophole in our state's Human Rights Law," said Silver. "Through today's approval of GENDA we hope to eradicate this discrimination and ensure a brighter future all New Yorkers regardless of their gender identity or expression."

"This is an important and overdue protection of human rights," said Gottfried. "The experience of transgender individuals is unique, and the discrimination they face should be unambiguously identified and rejected in our state's civil rights laws, just like discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, disability, or ethnicity. No New Yorker should fear losing a job or a home because of their gender identity."

"Gender identity or expression should not be used as an excuse for discrimination and intolerance," said Englebright. "With the approval of this bill we are one step closer to ensuring civil rights protections are afforded to all New Yorkers."

"Transgender New Yorkers disproportionately suffer from discrimination in areas of everyday life," said Lentol. "This important piece of legislation will extend basic civil rights and empower transgender communities across the state with the protections they are entitled to."

GENDA (A.4226) ensures that all New Yorkers, including those who identify as transgender or present their gender in a way that differs from what is traditionally associated with their birth sex, are protected from discrimination in housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and other areas of everyday life under the Human Rights Law. The measure also expands the state's hate crime protections to explicitly include crimes against transgender people.

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick said, "GENDA appropriately extends long overdue civil rights protections to the transgender community. I am confident that fairness and justice will result in passage, and I call on the NYS Senate to embrace the 21st Century and approve this crucial bill."

Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell said, "Today, with the passage of GENDA, the NY Assembly demonstrated its continued dedication to justice for all. New Yorkers should not have to hide who they truly are to avoid harm. Under Speaker Silver's leadership, I'm very proud the Assembly leads the way in this fight and I am hopeful that we will finally be able to extend the protections of law to all our citizens."

Assemblyman Matthew Titone said, "GENDA acknowledges that discrimination against any person because of their gender identity or expression will not be tolerated. When we say we are for equal rights for all, we have to ensure the 'for all' includes transgender people. Through the approval of this measure we are doing just that and taking a crucial step forward in supporting the civil rights of the transgender community."

Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, "It is with pride that I joined my Assembly colleagues in advancing the rights of transgender New Yorkers with today's passage of GENDA. Throughout my life I have been committed to equal rights for all New Yorkers. And while it's currently illegal in our state to discriminate on the basis of sex, age, race, creed, national origin and sexual orientation, there are no protections based on gender identity and expression. GENDA would extend the current law to all New Yorkers. I will fight to ensure that New York continues to lead the nation in fighting for true equality for all our citizens and for the end of prejudicial, exclusionary laws once and for all."

Assemblymember Micah Kellner said, "All of the members of the LGBT community deserve to be treated with equality and justice. No one should be discriminated against on account of their gender identity or expression, and I am proud to stand with the majority of my Assembly colleagues to enshrine that principle into law."

Nathan M. Schaefer, executive director, Empire State Pride Agenda said, "LGBT New Yorkers have made significant strides towards equality with legislative victories on hate crimes, bullying, and most recently, marriage equality. And yet, we have work to do. In many places across New York, people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and experience discrimination just because of their gender identity or expression. The time to extend basic civil rights to transgender New Yorkers is long overdue. We commend the Assembly for recognizing this need and passing GENDA for the 6th time."

Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., CEO of Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and chair, NYS AIDS Advisory Council said, "GMHC salutes the NYS Assembly on the passage of GENDA. Transgender people face undue discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. This discrimination can further compromise the health outcomes of transgender New Yorkers, especially those living with HIV. Discrimination drives the HIV epidemic, hindering efforts to provide meaningful education, intensifying the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS, and discouraging people from seeking testing, care, and counseling. Thank you to Speaker Silver and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried for their work on this bill. We hope to see it passed in the NYS Senate soon."