A New York State Senate committee killed a bill today that would have prohibited discrimination against individuals due to their gender identity or expression.
The bill, the Gender Expression Non-discrimination Act (or GENDA), would have included gender identity and expression in the state's list of qualities protected under the state's Human Rights Law, which currently include "age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, or marital status." Though Governor Cuomo issued an executive order in 2015 that included transgender New Yorkers in statewide protections, another governor could easily overturn that order; GENDA hoped to permanently spare transgender New Yorkers discrimination when it comes to obtaining education, credit, employment, housing, and public accommodations.
But though GENDA has passed the State Assembly seven times, today the Senate's Committee on Investigations and Governmental Operations voted against the bill. Six state senators—five Republicans and one Democract—voted against GENDA. Bronx Senator Ruben Diaz, who announced earlier this month that he'll be running for a City Council seat, was the lone Democrat dissenter. Three committee members voted for the bill.
State Senators Daniel Squadron and Brad Hoylman, who championed GENDA, took to Twitter to express their contempt with the committee's vote.
Today, Senate Republicans stood with divisiveness, discrimination & fear against #GENDA's basic fairness for transgender NYers. Appalling.
— Daniel Squadron (@DanielSquadron) April 25, 2017
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) April 25, 2017
Squadron provided Gothamist with the following statement:
Today, the Senate stood with Trumpian divisiveness, discrimination, and fear. As the Trump Administration rolls back basic protections for transgender Americans, the Senate Majority has an obligation to ensure all New Yorkers are protected. Today, not one Republican Senator voted to support basic fairness for all.
The Assembly has passed GENDA 10 times, including with bipartisan support. It is appalling the Senate Majority continues to stand in the way of basic protections many New Yorkers take for granted. Thank you to Assemblymember Gottfried, Senator Hoylman, NYCLU, Housing Works, VOCAL, the GENDA 2017 campaign and the countless New Yorkers organizing for basic equality.
Reached by phone today, Hoylman told Gothamist, "I'm the only LGBT member of the Senate, so I take this all to heart. My message to [my colleagues] was, don't treat transgender New Yorkers as second class citizens, and unfortunately that's exactly what they did, by opposing this bill."
Hoylman told Gothamist the Republican State Senate has repeatedly blocked passage of GENDA, and he hopes future elected officials work harder to protect their transgender constituents. "I had a 15 year-old young man named Sam, who took his spring break to come up to see me in Albany to lobby for GENDA," he said. "It's heartbreaking to think of the message that we're sending to young people like Sam who through no fault of their own are transgender and look to Albany and Washington to protect their rights, but are getting rejected by the elected officials that are supposed to represent them."