New York Senate Ends Session, Fails to Take Up Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA)

New York's Senate ended its session last night without taking a vote on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) despite pressure from advocates and major newspapers across the state. In April, the Democratic-led Assembly passed the bill for the sixth time.

SchaeferSaid Empire State Pride Agenda's executive director Nathan Schaefer in a statement lamenting the failure to take up the bill:

The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) made historic progress during the legislative session that just concluded. A broad, deep and diverse statewide coalition of law enforcement, labor, faith, civil rights, LGBT, progressive and women’s organizations stood shoulder-to-shoulder and called for GENDA. The community was united behind language that offered strong protections, particularly in the areas of housing and employment.

We are confident that we had a bi-partisan majority of the Senate to pass the legislation and send it to the governor for his signature. GENDA, like many other key pieces of progressive legislation was defeated – not on its merits, but by the adamant refusal of the Senate leadership to bring the measure to the floor for an up-or-down vote. What were they afraid of? The Empire State Pride Agenda, on behalf of tens of thousands of transgender people and their families and others who wish to live their lives without fear or discrimination because of who they are, is angry and disappointed. Frankly, New York State deserves better. Today, the fight for GENDA continues. We are convinced that the passage of GENDA in New York State is inevitable, and the Pride Agenda will not rest until all New Yorkers are afforded equal civil rights statewide.”

GendaThe New York Times had urged passage of the bill in a June 12 editorial:

There is a good chance it would also pass the Senate, with nearly all Democrats and some Republicans voting in favor. The challenge is getting the bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote before the end of the legislative session, scheduled on June 20.

Senator Jeffrey Klein, the Democratic leader in the Senate’s coalition leadership, must insist on a vote. He should tell Senator Dean Skelos, the coalition’s Republican leader, that bottling up bills like this one is not part of their power-sharing deal. It would help if Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a supporter of the bill, would commit political capital to enacting the legislation before the session ends. Sixteen states — including New Jersey and Connecticut — and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-discrimination protections covering transgender people. New York should not lag on this important civil rights issue.


  1. says

    “What were they afraid of?”

    Perhaps they were afraid of the law passing, and transgender people being allowed some very basic rights?

    Children fear the dark because they don’t know what’s in the dark, and they fear what they don’t understand.

    Looks like we’ve got some overgrown children in the senate “leadership” – afraid to allow all humans *express* who they are without discrimination. Time for a change in “leadership”, anyone?

    What year is this again? It certainly feels like we’re stuck in the 1950’s!

  2. Jude says

    I wonder if the Empire State Pride Agenda needs new leadership, or some strategy shift. After the great success of marriage equality in NY, it seems like gay issues are just not being handled as deftly here.

    I live in the NY district where Roy McDonald — one of the 4 brave republican state senators who voted for SSM — was ousted in a primary by anti-gay Kathy Marchione over his SSM vote. McDonald was still on the Independence line, but publicly dropped out of the race.

    The Democratic candidate — an out lesbian who is pro-equality for all and also has a strong business background, plus success in winning a local district that has a republican edge (in other words, a strong candidate)– received $0 from Empire State Pride Agenda. Zip.

    I understand full well the disappointment when McDonald lost his primary — I was right there with it. But to give up fighting against the ultra-religious anti-gay fanatic who won with less than a majority of the vote was a pathetic wrap-up.

    Pride Agenda and Albany, NY gay activists made no effort to encourage people to vote for the Democrat instead of throwing away their vote for McDonald, who ended up with ~15%. They made no effort whatsoever!

    In the end the democrat Andrews won her own county — the first time in decades a democrat won. That was of course where people knew her. But her numbers went down the further away you got from her county. That’s a classic case of a strong candidate with not enough money.

    A real miss by Empire State Pride Agenda, IMHO. Even if they didn’t think Andrews could win the first time around, they could have helped set a strong foundation for next time.

    Makes me wonder what they’re missing in this case.

  3. Jude says

    Clarification to my comment: not ALL Albany area gay activists followed Empire State Pride Agenda’s lead… I know of at least one who saw the big picture and made an effort

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