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New York Gender Recognition Act passes heads to Governor Cuomo

“We are protected by a constitution. Nowhere does it say that these rights don’t apply to one group of people.”

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New York Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell marching in the 2019 NYC Pride (Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell)

ALBANY, NY. – With a final push shepherded by openly gay New York State Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, (D), the New York State Assembly passed New York Senate Bill S4402 and its Assembly companion bill A5465, the Gender Recognition Act. The legislation now heads to New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo who is expected to sign the measure.

The legislation allows for an “x” designation on the state’s driver’s licenses. The measure would also help waive an outdated rule requiring people to publish a notification in a newspaper when they change their name in the state. 

“Today is a proud day for New York State, as we secure our standing as a leader in LGBTQ rights and ensure that transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers have the equality and dignity they deserve,” O’Donnell said. “No one should face overwhelming financial, medical, and bureaucratic barriers simply to have their existence officially recognized. These obstacles only serve to make people’s lives harder and more dangerous, particularly for trans New Yorkers of color who too often have limited resources, face disproportionate rates of violence, and are already marginalized by our legal system. I am deeply honored to carry this important bill and thank all of the trans, non-binary, and intersex advocates who have worked tirelessly to shape and support it.”

On Tuesday, June 8, the State Senate passed S4402, which was co-sponsored by openly gay State Senator Brad Hoylman. In an interview published the same day by The Hill, when asked about the GRA, O’Donnell noted that transgender rights is one of his life pursuits, and that there is still much work to be done. 

“When marriage equality was passed, I knew there would be a backlash. I didn’t know the backlash would be directed at trans people, or involve bathrooms. So, there’s work to be done. Last year, we passed a bill that said if a bathroom only has one toilet, anyone is allowed to use it, to prevent people from being threatened or beaten up for using the wrong bathroom,” he said. “We are supposed to be free, and we’re all living in America where we are protected by a constitution. Nowhere does it say that these rights don’t apply to one group of people,” he added.

Gay City News reported that the legislation drew praise from LGBTQ legal advocates who have long fought for reform. Andy Marra, who is the executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), said TLDEF worked to secure key elements of the bill, including waiving the requirement for medical documentation as well as the removal of the publication requirement in newspapers.

“Along with our colleagues at the Empire Justice Center and the Gender Recognition Act Coalition, TLDEF worked closely with state lawmakers to craft some of the most inclusive legislation to date,” Marra said in an email to GCN. “This bill can now serve as a model for other states across the country.”

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New York

Long Island library reverses decision to pull LGBTQ Pride display & books

“The Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays & books in the children’s section! This happened because YOU spoke up!”

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Smithtown Library, Long Island NY (Smithtown Library Board/Facebook)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees met in an emergency session Thursday night to rescind its Tuesday vote to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings.

The Board’s Tuesday decision was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association had also issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

The Hauppauge New York-based LGBT Network credited the onslaught of public anger and criticism including Governor Hochul’s as the mitigating factors in the reversal by the library board. The group also warned that there is a larger fight being waged that imperils LGBTQ+ youth.

“Tonight the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays and books in the children’s section of their library! This happened because YOU spoke up and spoke out! It is a reason to celebrate and demonstrates what our collective power can do. But it is also a wakeup call that the culture wars targeting LGBTQ youth are very much here in our backyard,” a statement on the group’s website noted.

“The reversal overall is good because it gets those books and displays back into the libraries,” LGBT Network vice president Robert Vitelli told local media after the library board reversed itself. “The commentary that went along with the votes shows there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

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New York

Long Island library yanks LGBTQ+ Pride display & books from kids section

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack- This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

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Library books on shelves at the Smithtown library main branch (Screenshot/Tube NBC New York)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – A 4-2 vote Tuesday by the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings, was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 40% LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, and more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered suicide.

Further, GLSEN’s School Climate Survey for LGBTQ+ Students in New York reported over 50%
of LGBTQ+ students experienced at least one form of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in their
schools. Although countless research points towards how public LGBTQ+ representation is life
saving for LGBTQ+ youth – only 28% of students in New York were taught positive
representations of LGBTQ+ people, history, or events.

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, the president and CEO of the New York LGBTQ Network. “This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

“You come after our kids, we’re going after you. We’re gonna replace you on the school boards, we’re gonna replace you on the library boards,” Kilmnick added.

Brianna Baker-Stines, the president of the library board, was similarly shocked and disappointed by the actions taken. She told NBC New York, “I was horrified by the display of ignorance at last night’s Board meeting. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I recognize the importance of access to diverse materials.”

The New York Library Association also signaled its support of the staff of library:

Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker said “I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone.”

“Earlier this year, when Florida was ramming destructive ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws through its State Legislature, I lamented the fact that this coordinated, nationwide assault on the LGBTQ+ community could soon arrive on our doorstep. Well, it’s here,” he said in a statement. “What transpired yesterday in Smithtown shows us that we cannot pull the wool over our own eyes for a moment longer by saying, ‘it won’t happen here.'”

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NYC LGBTQ+ groups protest DeSantis appearance at Chelsea Piers 

“The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels”

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U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) poses with protestors outside Chelsea Piers (Photo credit: Rep. Carolyn Maloney/Twitter)

NEW YORK CITY – An appearance by anti-LGBTQ+ Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis speaking to the Jewish Leadership Conference at Chelsea Piers sparked protests Sunday by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and several elected officials including U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The appearance by the Florida governor, who signed the state’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay Law’ and during a press conference last week where he also suggested he might urge the state’s child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows, was decried as insensitive and offensive during LGBTQ+ Pride month held every June to commemorate the 1969 LGBTQ+ uprising at the Stonewall Inn which is located about 2 miles away.

State Senator Brad Hoylman who represents Chelsea has joined other Democratic politicians and NYC leaders and urged Chelsea Piers to say no to hate and demagoguery: “The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels, including that it is Pride and that it is in Chelsea, the heart of the community,” Hoylman said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney tweeted her disgust at both the Florida Governor and Chelsea Piers:

In a tweet of his own DeSantis fired back at his critics:

The venue told the New York Times that it would be donating money to groups that support LGBTQ+ rights to mitigate the fallout. The Times reported the decision by Chelsea Piers to donate money has not mollified critics.

Other groups are canceling upcoming events at Chelsea Piers. Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for GLAAD, said his organization would “refrain from future events” at the complex, “given the platform that Chelsea Piers is giving to one of the most anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and dangerous politicians today.”

The Ali Forney Center, a group that works with homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth in New York, said on Friday that it would no longer be holding a program there next month. “People are saying this issue is about freedom of speech, but it is not. It is in response to DeSantis silencing freedom of speech in schools,” the group’s president, Alex Roque, wrote in a statement.

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