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 Legislature.

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.