Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYS Assembly passes marriage equality bill!

I see that the New York State Assembly passed AB 7732, the civil marriage equality bill. I'm very pleased that they did so. I am a staunch supporter of civil marriage equality, something many of my previous blog posts have illustrated. Those who discuss this matter in my local newspaper's online Letters to the Editor section probably guessed that too. I'm sure the community will fight hard now for its passage through the state senate.

I still haven't heard any details regarding the Empire State Pride Agenda's (ESPA) call in day for GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act). I guess they've been busy with other things. An article in the NY Post (don't ask) says that "Democrats in the Senate are working furiously to get enough votes to turn the proposal into law." This comes as no surprise. As I previously noted, it sure looks as if the GLB committment to GENDA sure flew out of the window in a hurry when Governor Patterson made his marriage bill announcement last April 16th.

So, with the same amount of hope as the fellow that began bailing the Titanic with a teacup, I sent a note today, to Senate Majority Leader Malcom Smith and to the senate sponsor of the marriage bill, Thomas K. Duane, asking them to remember GENDA and pass it first.

Dear Senators Smith & Duane,

I've just finished reading about your vigorous efforts to push marriage equality legislation through the New York State Senate. I'd like to thank both of you for your efforts in this very important issue. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you not to forget the thousands of unprotected transsexual and other gender variant people that are watching in dismay how their main legislative interest seems to have been pushed aside.

I had hoped that when Governor Patterson announced his introduction of marriage equality legislation, that GENDA would not be forgotten. Unfortunately, in the public sphere and in the news it seems it has been. I'm not a politician and there may well be other factors involved, but I would think a vote for GENDA would be easy to do right now with all the noise and attention being paid to marriage equality but once again, those of us who do not fit gender stereotypes are poised above the wheels of the bus, so to speak, waiting to be dropped. Please do your best to correct the state's omission when they passed SONDA, seven long years ago, without the inclusion of gender identity and expression.

While I consider civil marriage equality to be very important, I believe that GENDA is vital. The ability to marry a same sex sweetheart is pretty worthless if you can't get a job no matter what your qualifications are or if your landlord has thrown you out of your home because he doesn't "rent to your kind." Being married to a person of the same sex doesn't help when a bouncer throws you out of a bathroom or your family out of a restaurant because some paranoid and ignorant customer made a complaint about your appearance.

I think this bill is vital and will not cause the harm its opponents predict it will (with no evidence). I am asking you as a lifelong, law abiding, citizen of New York State, please join your colleagues in the Assembly, work to pass S02406 out of committee and ensure its full passage in the New York State Senate.

Thank you,

I hope those who read this will send these two senators similar emails or faxes. Please be sure to let them know there are real people being affected by the apparent shift of priorities away from nondiscrimination and towards marriage equality.

Thei email addresses:
masmith@senate.state.ny.us, duane@senate.state.ny.us

I make jokes about hopelessness but I really think it is imperative that these politicians are reminded that GENDA is about survival, it's about having and keeping a paycheck when someone transitions. It's about keeping a roof over your head when you come out to your landlord. It's about being treated with respect and dignity in the public spaces we all have to enter sooner or later. Let's make sure that even if they fail us on GENDA, that we can hold our heads high and say, "It may not have been much, but I did my best!"

1 comment:

  1. Excellent letter! Thanks for all the good work you're doing, especially with the lobby visits in person. Hope to see you around soon!

    -Michael from Spectrum