While focus has centered on the New York Assembly having passed a marriage equality bill, the Assembly also passed AB 5039 this week, a bill designed to add gender identity and expression to the state’s nondiscrimination laws. The bill, known as GENDA, passed in a 78-53 vote.
GENDA would amend the state’s nondiscrimination laws to include gender identity and expression. It would protect trans citizens from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, the housing and credit sectors, and in education. The bill is also designed to add gender identity to the state’s hate crimes statute.
Key proponent Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell reportedly said this following the bill’s passage:
“I am proud that today I and my colleagues in the Assembly voted by a wide margin, 78-53, once again in support of offering long overdue protections to those most in need. Transgender individuals all across New York State currently live in fear of being fired from a job or denied housing based upon gender expression; this must be changed. New York will be a stronger, more just place when we all can live secure in the knowledge that our government protects us.”
“We congratulate the New York Assembly for moving forward these critical protections,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Gender identity and expression should not be factored into an individual’s access to education, employment, housing or public accommodations. We call on the New York Senate to swiftly take up and pass this legislation.”
This is the third time the bill has passed the New York Assembly. It must now go before the Republican-controlled Senate.
Melissa Sklarz, Director of the New York Trans Rights Organization, notes in a piece for the HRC Back Story blog that the votes maybe be there to pass the legislation, but, she writes, that doesn’t mean it will get to the floor: “The head count stands at 32 of 62 in favor and 8 undecided or undeclared. But the “no” votes control the floor and have shown little initiative in moving the bill.”
The legislative session ends June 20.
Sklarz also expresses that while Governor Cuomo has continued the practice of issuing an executive order against discrimination based on gender identity, this is an impermanent and fragile substitute for legislative action. Read more at the HRC Back Story.