Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A much needed victory!

The New York State Senate approved the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) last night in a 58-3 vote.  Governor Paterson has already indicated that he will sign this bill into law.  it will take effect on July 1, 2012.  It's notable that this bill is the first in state history to include protections for gender identity.  The bill also includes “actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.

An amendment to add cyber bullying was defeated.  Republicans pushed for the amendment claiming it was more inclusive and makes the bill better.  “If we look at this honestly, we should support this amendment because it’s all-inclusive,” Sen. John DeFrancisco.  The law covers actions that happen on school property only.  Since there are a number of important related issues to cyber bullying that would not have been addressed by the bill as written, I think it's a good thing it wasn't added.  The issue is complex enough to require a separate bill. 

The three no votes all came from Republican party members: John DeFrancisco (District 50), George Maziarz (District 62) and Dale Volker (District 59).  My senator, Sen. Cathy Young, voted yes which gives me hope that she will give GENDA a fair shake when it comes back to the Senate (someday).  The amazing thing is that Ruben Diaz, the perennial Senate homo/transphobe, voted yes.  I suspect he saw the bill would be passed anyway and didn't want to be on the losing side, especially in an election year.  The bill was passed in the state Assembly 9 times already and this is the first year the Senate has acted on it, having been blocked from coming to the floor until now.  “Shameful,” Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat who shepherded the bill through his chamber, texted from the Senate balcony. “For nine years we passed this bill and the Republicans did nothing.”

It IS shameful that it took this long to get such an important bill passed.  It's equally shameful that the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) is still in the Senate's dead zone, after being killed in the Judicial committee two weeks ago.  Will we have to wait 6 more years for that to pass?  I certainly hope not.

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