New York lawmakers advance two major LGBTQ bills after years of Senate gridlock

Two major pieces of LGBTQ equality legislation passed in the New York legislature on Tuesday, signaling the end of a political gridlock caused by a group of conservative Senate Democrats that stretches back well over a decade.

By a vote of 42-19, the Senate passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which creates statewide protections for transgender people in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations, and grants them recognition under existing hate crime laws. GENDA has been introduced during every legislative session since 2003, but it only ever passed in the heavily Democratic Assembly — never in the Senate. This makes New York the 24th state, along with the District of Columbia, to offer such protections on the basis of gender identity.

Both chambers also overwhelmingly approved a bill to ban conversion therapy for minors, making it the 15th state along with D.C. to do so. This ban will make it illegal for therapists to offer treatment to children that attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. Such therapy has been found to be ineffective and harmful.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has said he will sign both bills.

The legislation finally found a pathway forward thanks to a wave of progressive victories in September’s Democratic primary elections. These new candidates toppled a group of incumbent lawmakers known as the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), which caucused with Republicans and limited what other Senate Democrats could actually accomplish, even when the party had a majority.

Sen. Brad Hoylman (D), a self-proclaimed gay dad who has served in the Senate since 2013, was the primary sponsor of the conversion therapy ban. In a tweet thread Tuesday, he heralded the passage of both bills and lauded the activists who’ve been fighting for nearly two decades for GENDA to pass.

With New York’s passage of GENDA, the country is just one state shy of half the states explicitly protecting transgender people from discrimination. In several of the states that do not have such statutes, governors have used executive orders to at least extend employment protections to state employees. In the wake of several Democratic gubernatorial wins, that list has recently grown to include Kansas, Ohio, and Michigan.

Source: thinkprogress