Chair, Correction Committee
Daniel O’Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly, has been a progressive voice advocating fair and sensible legislation since he was elected to represent the 69th District in 2002. With his election, he joined Deborah Glick, the first openly LGBT member of the New York State Legislature. Born in Queens and raised with his four siblings in Commack, Long Island, O’Donnell put himself through college and law school, earning a B.A. in public affairs from George Washington University and a law degree from CUNY Law School. After seven years as a public defender in the Brooklyn office of the Legal Aid Society, he opened his own public interest law firm on the Upper West Side. His community practice helped clients with tenant representation and civil rights litigation ranging from employee discrimination to First Amendment rights. Since childhood, O’Donnell has aspired to improve his community as a government representative. As soon as he arrived in Morningside Heights, he set out to do just that. Before he became an Assembly Member he was an active member of Community Board 9, and in both positions he has worked tirelessly to provide community members with just policies and improved access to government services. His district includes Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and parts of the Upper West Side and West Harlem. He proudly hosts many community events for his constituents each year, including book drives, health fairs, quality of life forums, flu shot clinics, and an annual Community Reading Challenge for students from pre-K through the eighth grade. During his tenure in the Assembly he has been the prime sponsor of several trailblazing bills, most notably the Marriage Equality Act, a bill O’Donnell has led to passage in the Assembly five times since 2007, and which was finally signed into law in June 2011, and the Dignity for All Students Act, which requires public schools in New York to combat bias-based bullying and harassment. Two other notable successes include “Ian’s Law,” which prevents insurance companies from canceling entire categories of coverage in order to dump high-cost patients, and a law that repeals unconstitutional loitering provisions that historically have been used to discriminate against the homeless, gay men, and panhandlers. He currently serves as Chair of the Ethics and Guidance Committee and Chair of the Codes Subcommittee on Criminal Procedure. His Standing Committee Assignments include: Codes; Education; Environmental Conservation; Judiciary; Oversight, Analysis & Investigation; and Tourism, Parks, Arts & Sports Development. He and his husband, John Banta, were finally married in January 2012 after 31 years as a couple. They have lived in Morningside Heights since 1990.