Openly gay Senator Tom Duane called the
New York Senate “a cesspool of homophobia and transphobia” after
a key committee rejected a transgender protections bill Tuesday.
The Gender Expression
Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) seeks to ban discrimination based on
gender identity and expression in the areas of housing, employment,
credit and public accommodations. The New York Assembly has approved
the bill on three separate occasions, most recently in March.
Senators on the powerful Judiciary
Committee rejected the bill early Tuesday in a 11-12 vote.
Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz crossed
the aisle to join all the committee's Republicans in voting against
the measure. Last year, Diaz was the face of opposition to a gay
marriage bill that ultimately died in the Senate.
“It is now yet again confirmed that
the Senate is a cesspool of homophobia and transphobia,” Duane, the
bill's primary sponsor in the Senate, told NY Daily News.
Social conservatives throughout the
country are fighting local and state level legislative efforts to
outlaw transgender discrimination. In some states – including
Massachusetts, Florida, New Hampshire and North Dakota – opponents
have labeled such measures “bathroom bills,” warning that the
laws invite male sex offenders dressed as women to lurk in women's
restrooms, endangering public safety.
“This is an invitation, it seems to
me, for people with predatory tendencies to come out and hide behind
the fact that they are having a transgender experience,” state Rep.
Peyton Hinkle, a Republican, said on the New Hampshire House floor
during debate on a similar bill that was ultimately approved by the
Opponents in New York also stressed the
bathroom issue in derailing the measure.
“The bathroom issue is a concern that
is based on worry, not reality,” Ross Levi, executive director of
Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's largest gay rights advocate,
said. “Thirteen other states and numerous jurisdictions across New
York State, including Suffolk County, Westchester County, Buffalo,
Rochester, Albany and New York City, have passed similar measures
without any of the mythical fears about bathrooms materializing.”
“This fight is not over,” Levi
added. “Transgender people can be fired from their jobs, kicked
out of their homes and denied service in a restaurant simply because
of who they are. It's time for New York to join the states,
localities and companies that have already dealt with this issue and
protect the civil rights of all its citizens.”
Late last year, Governor
David Paterson signed an executive order protecting transgender state
employees from workplace discrimination.