State Senator Brad Hoylman is congratulated by colleagues last week after two of his bills, GENDA and a ban on gay conversion therapy, are passed. (Photo courtesy of State Senator Brad Hoylman)
By Sabina Mollot
Last week, two LGBTQ rights bills that were long-championed by State Senator Brad Hoylman — and long ignored by what was a Republican majority until now — were finally passed. They included a ban on gay conversion therapy and GENDA (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act), which expands the laws on discrimination to include gender identity and expression.
Additionally, the Child Victims Act, which would lengthen the amount of time victims of sex crimes have to file suits, was included in the governor’s proposed budget. The bill has seen some opposition from religious institutions, including schools and the Boy Scouts of America, and a story in the Times Union recently noted a potential loophole that could exempt public schools.
In response, Hoylman said while he is confident there is no such loophole, the bill will be reworked before it is reintroduced this legislative session to prevent there being any questions about this.
GENDA, meanwhile, is expected to go into effect within 30 days of being signed by Cuomo, while the gay conversion therapy ban would go into effect immediately. Part of the GENDA bill would go into effect in November to give local law enforcement agencies time to catch up and also make paperwork changes.
State Senator Hoylman, pictured with his baby Lucy and husband David Sigal, had to work with a surrogate in California since surrogacy isn’t legal in New York. (Photo courtesy of Brad Hoylman)
By Sabina Mollot
Two years ago, State Senator Brad Hoylman told Town & Village that any LGBT-related legislation seemed to be blacklisted in Albany to the point where any bill with the term “LGBT” in it would be “dead on arrival.”
Since then, basically nothing has changed with the most recent significant LGBT-related legislation being the marriage equality act in 2011 that was championed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
In 2016, Hoylman did a study on the lack of action taken in the state capital since then, titled “Stranded at the Altar.” The fact that the Independent Democratic Conference has dissolved hasn’t changed anything, voting dynamic-wise, and Hoylman, as he has before, is laying the blame solely on his chamber’s Republican majority. Hoylman is the only openly gay state senator.
Additionally, while Cuomo is fighting a high-profile battle against a lesbian primary challenger, Hoylman said he wasn’t sure the governor could strong-arm the bills into law through executive order.
Even New Yorkers who are far from being political junkies know one thing. Andrew Cuomo is running scared over his primary against lesbian activist Cynthia Nixon. The most recent poll numbers are favoring the incumbent. However, political outsider Nixon is a threat to the governor’s LGBTQ supporters; with Pride Week coming up, so too will his name and hers among New York’s Democrat voters.
There will be those rightfully pointing out how Cuomo strong-armed marriage equality into reality in 2011, but as State Senator Brad Hoylman has proven with a study, LGBTQ New Yorkers have been “stranded at the altar” since then. And with seven years having gone by, it does appear they’ve officially been jilted by Albany.
This legislative session in the state capital is over now, but elected officials, including Cuomo, still have a chance to at least commit to passing some LGBTQ protections like (at least) banning gay conversion therapy of young people and ensuring a fairer workplace for gay and transgender people. And we truly don’t know what’s stopping them. Yes, the State Senate is controlled by Republicans and that is where all this legislation, like tenant protection legislation, has gone to die.