Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I guess we still don't count around here

From the New York State Legislature:

S2406-A DUANE Same as Uni. A 5710-A Gottfried (MS)
Executive Law
TITLE....Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression and includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression under the hate crimes statute

01/20/10 PRINT NUMBER 2406A

The supporters of prejudicial discrimination have won again. I'm not politically savvy enough to be able to dope out the ramifications but it sure seems the trans community has been left by the wayside once again, another year will go by without adequate civil rights protections, another year of gender variant people in New York State being legally fired, harassed and denied services in the public sphere.

I don't have any of the details but I do know there was optimism as late as Sunday, at the Buffalo Pride Festival, coming from some local politically active trans people. The bill was supposed to have had enough votes to get through this committee and eventually into the full Senate. This committee was chosen because the Investigations and Government Operations committee that was holding up the bill didn't have the votes to pass it. From the Albany Times Union, Capitol Confidential blog:

The GENDA bill, which would prohibit discrimination based on how people express their gender or sexual identity, failed by at 12-11 vote in the chamber’s judiciary committee.

This means it will not advance to the floor, and it will be difficult to do so now. Sen. Tom Duane, the bill’s sponsor, called the chamber a “homophobic cesspool.” The vote came after pressure from the Conservative Party to vote against it.

To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I feel disappointed, sad and, most of all, angry that we still can't get these basic protections passed in New York State. They're passing gender identity inclusive laws in Utah, fer cryin' out loud! A support group I belong to, the Transgender Couples of Western New York, signed up over 100 people at the Pride festival on Sunday, all of whom were asked to sign to support GENDA. The grass roots say it's past due that this should be achieved. I'll have to agree with Senator Duane, the state senate IS a homophobic and transphobic cesspool. The state Assembly has passed GENDA for three years in a row. Not one of those Assembly persons who voted yes suffered any negative political fallout, that I know of.

Each and every Republican member of the committee voted against the bill and were joined by that infamous "religious" homo/transphobe, Rev. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx who is a Democrat but one has to wonder why. The committee voted as follows:

NYS Senate Judiciary Committee
Chair: Sen. John L. Sampson, D-District 19, YES

Yes Eric Adams, (D, WF) 20th Senate District
No John J. Bonacic, (R, C, IP) 42nd Senate District
Yes Neil D. Breslin, (D, IP, WF) 46th Senate District
No John A. DeFrancisco, (R, C, IP) 50th Senate District
No Ruben Diaz, (D) 32nd Senate District
Yes Martin Malavé Dilan, (D) 17th Senate District
Yes Pedro Espada, Jr., (D) 33rd Senate District
Yes Ruth Hassell-Thompson, (D, WF) 36th Senate District
Yes Jeffrey D. Klein, (D, WF) 34th Senate District
No Andrew J Lanza, (R) 24th Senate District
No Kenneth P. LaValle, (R, C, IP) 1st Senate District
No Vincent L. Leibell, (R) 40th Senate District
No George D. Maziarz, (R) 62nd Senate District
No Michael F. Nozzolio, (R, C, IP) 54th Senate District
Yes George Onorato, (D) 12th Senate District
Yes Bill Perkins, (D) 30th Senate District
No Michael H. Ranzenhofer, (R, C, IP) 61st Senate District
No Stephen M. Saland, (R) 41st Senate District
Yes Diane J. Savino, (D, IP, WF) 23rd Senate District
Yes Eric T. Schneiderman, (D, WF) 31st Senate District
No Dale M. Volker, (R) 59th Senate District
No George Winner, (R, C, Ind) 53rd Senate District

Dr Jillian Weiss described the committee's action at the Bilerico Project. Her take was that the proponents of the bill were poorly prepared for the objections of its opponents, namely, the "bathroom" meme. Why is that? Why didn't they have the real and effective counters to the lie that this bill would endanger people in public restrooms, locker rooms and the like? Where was the lobbying effort this year? Oh yeah, there wasn't one - the Empire State Pride Agenda decided not to have one. I guess they thought it was a better idea to save those resources to fight against the senators that voted against marriage equality. It's up to our community to give our political representatives the tools to counter the lies of the opposition. Obviously we failed to do so. I guess when you already have your own rights protections in place, doing the hard work to protect other people's rights - promises notwithstanding - is just too damned difficult.

Those who voted against this bill MUST be made to pay a political price for their callous disregard for the survival of gender variant people in New York. Senator Lanza, from Staten Island, especially, for changing his vote. Will the Empire State Pride Agenda work to exact that price? Probably not, or not too hard, if the past is any indication. GENDA has always been their red headed stepchild. The same senators who voted no also voted against marriage equality however, so maybe they'll be targeted on that basis. And in the mean time? More fear, more stress, more poverty, more crime and more egregious harm for the gender variant gay, lesbian, straight and bisexual people in most of New York State.

Update: Video of todays meeting is up.

1 comment:

  1. Normally I agree about it being anti-trans specifically (and muted response from most LGB(t) groups will undoubtedly testify to that element in play here) but given Diaz being the one to hold it back (the only Dem to vote no) I'm inclined to think it was overall anti-LGBT attitude that killed it.