Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Action Alert: NY Senate Vote on Gender Identity Protections

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | June 07, 2010 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: GENDA, Gender Non-Discrimination Act, New York, Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, SONDA

In 2002, New York State passed the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Law.nys.jpg There was a bitter fight at the time regarding transgender inclusion. Ultimately, the decision was made to pass the law without transgender inclusion, with the promise that a separate law would be passed regarding gender identity protection.

Eight years later, transgender New Yorkers are still waiting. The bill has been passed by the New York State Assembly, but the New York State Senate has consistently refused to do so. This is the same New York Senate that defeated marriage equality after several Senators, who promised to vote in favor, caved at actual crunch time.

There is, however, reason for optimism this time around. (How many times have I heard those words?)

GENDA, the Gender Non-Discrimination Act, sponsored by Senator Tom Duane, is going to a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 10 am on Tuesday morning.

There are 23 members on the committee, so 12 yes votes would be needed to send the bill to the floor for a full Senate vote. Advocates for the bill say there are 11 yes votes, and 6 unconfirmed.

In the full New York Senate, with 62 members, there are 32 yes votes and 15 unconfirmed.

If the Judiciary vote proceeds tomorrow and is positive, and the bill is scheduled for a Senate floor vote, New York State could see a gender identity protection bill pass into law this year.

Telephone numbers of the unconfirmed Senators after the jump. You know what to do. And please share on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Senate Bill 2406-A

Currently on Senate Committee Agenda
Senate Standing Committee on Judiciary
Senator John Sampson, Chair
10:00 AM, Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Room 124 CAP

Chairperson Sampson -- Kings County -- YES


DeFrancisco -- Onandaga County (518-455-3511 Email - Facebook)

Saland -- Columbia, Dutchess Counties (518-455-2411 Email - Facebook)

LaValle -- Suffolk County (518-455-3121 Email - Facebook)

Winner -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tompkins, Yates Counties (518-455-2091 Email - Facebook)

Lanza -- Richmond (518-455-3215 Email - Facebook)

Leibell -- Dutchess, Putnam, Westchester Counties (518-455-3111 Email)


Onorato -- Queens County
Schneiderman -- Bronx, New York Counties
Hassell-Thompson -- Bronx, Westchester Counties
Klein -- Bronx, Westchester Counties
Adams -- Kings County
Espada -- Bronx County
Breslin -- Albany County
Dilan -- Kings County
Savino -- Richmond, Kings Counties
Perkins -- New York County (Harlem, East Harlem, Upper Westside)


Nozzolio -- Cayuga, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Tompkins, Wayne Counties
Maziarz -- Monroe, Niagara, Orleans Counties
Diaz --Bronx County
Volker -- Erie, Livingston, Ontario, Wyoming Counties
Bonacic -- Delaware, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster Counties
Ranzenhofer -- Erie, Genesee Counties

Here is a link to the bill.

HousingWorks, which has been particularly active in this area, has a webpage detailing the history of GENDA.

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Ohio's fully-inclusive Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA; HB176) is in a similar condition. The Ohio House passed the bill last year, but Ohio Senate President Bill Harris believes that discrimination against LGBT people in employment and housing is wrong, but he does not see evidence that discrimination happens and does not exist in Ohio. Therefore, he says, there is no need for this law to fix something he says is not "broken" and refuses to send the bill to committee for hearings. Ohioans can contact Senate Pres. Harris at SD19@senate.state.oh.us or Senate President Bill Harris, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capital Square, 2nd Floor, Columbus, OH 43215, or call (614) 466-8086 with your story to show him discrimination DOES exist in Ohio and we need EHEA passed NOW!

In addition, in August 2009 the Bowling Green, Ohio city council overwhelmingly approved an ordinance extending protections in housing, employment, public education, and public accommodation to a broad group of classes including LGBT individuals. However, a successful recall petition drive has unfortunately placed both ordinances on the November 2, 2010 ballot for a public referendum. The Bowling Green [Ohio] Coalition for Justice is seeking support from individuals and organizations promoting broad civil rights protections. Please visit www.onebowlinggreen.org to find out ways you can get involved or support ONE Bowling Green.

We sure have our work cut out for us, Jenny. Good luck with Ohio and Bowling Green. What do you think your chances are, and what do you need to win?

Angela Brightfeather | June 7, 2010 9:27 PM

Well Jillian,

I was very involved in the original fight where we were sold down the river, thrown under the bus and trampled over by the NY Pride Agenda. It was shocking how underhandedly we were treated and even more shocking when one of the biggest no-trans inclusion negotiators from the NYS Pride Agenda, led the fight to push Trans people under the bus and within a few years, was awarded the helm at NGLTF, with great public apologies to the Trans Community for his actions and the promise that he would never do such a terrible thing again to Trans people.

The history of Trans inclusion in NY is liberaly sprinkled with gay men who didn't mind doing whatever it took and lesbian lawyers who shouted from the top of their lungs that Trans people didn't need to be included because they were already protected under Title VII laws (phooey!).

But I know Johnny Defrancisco, so I'm calling him tomorrow. I went to high school, ran track with him and know him to be an understanding an honorable man, even though he is a Republican, he as bucked the flow of that party many times to represent his constiuents in Syracuse and Onondaga County in an honorable way. He knows me and that I will probably be calling on this anyway, so perhaps I can bring up the old days and get to talk to him for more than one minute.

Due to the continual heroic actions of a few dedicated Trans people in NY, the GENDA bill has retained the life needed to carry on. Even more, the outright blood oath of the NY Pride Agenda and the public statement made so famous by them, "we are sorry, but we'll come back for you, we promise" which became the mantra of so many GLB organizations, has stuck in the minds of NY Trans people and organizations and they are not letting go of it. Thank God for that. Their persistent action on GENDA has served as an example to others that Trans people don't forget getting dumped on and after over 8 years, it is the Trans Community that has convinced the NY Pride Agenda that they can't back down from their promise, move on to marriage rights and other issues and continue to forget about those promises. Out of that persistence, a coalition has been formed which started with giving Trans leaders a place at the NY Pride Agenda table with their Board of Directors. Something that many other state groups like the State Equality group of organizations is still learning, that Trans leaders need a place at their table or they simply are not inclusive enough.

My hopes go out to those Trans people in NY who have worked on this for the past 8 years, and even to the Pride Agenda because if GENDA passes, it will mean that the GLBT Community in NY will be able to move on to bigger and better fights together in the second largest state in the U.S.A.

Good luck with DeFrancisco, Angela. By the way, the meeting is streaming live Tues morning 10am at http://www.nysenate.gov/event/2010/jun/08/judiciary-meeting

Let's hope it passes this time. It's been too long in coming.