Thank You, Governor Paterson

As his final day in office winds to a close for Governor David Paterson, LGBT New Yorkers should offer him our thanks for being the most relentlessly and loudly pro-gay governor in state and arguably, national history. Our state movement’s two most important pieces of legislation, GENDA and marriage equality, remain unattained, but that, of course, is due to our clown car of a state Senate and is no fault of the governor’s.

Paterson, to his everlasting credit and over the loud protests of bigots, issued an executive order protecting state employees in New York from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. In May 2008, he directed state agencies to recognize out of state same-sex marriages, a move countered by numerous (and unsuccessful) lawsuits. And if there was a marriage equality rally or an angry protest, we usually showed up to find Governor Paterson at the podium or on a bullhorn. Probably my most memorable moment of Paterson’s tenure was watching him stand in a pouring rain in Washington Square to deliver an impassioned speech against the bullying and abuse of LGBT youth.

And let’s not forget Gov. Paterson’s unexpected selection of an obscure upstate legislator with wobbly bona fides to fill the formidable shoes of then Sen. Hillary Clinton. Many questioned that move at the time (myself included), but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has surprised us all and turned into a powerful and effective advocate for LGBT New Yorkers. Sen. Gillibrand may turn out to be Paterson’s most enduring legacy for the good of our movement.

We’ve had the occasional disagreement with Gov. Paterson, in particular the continuing exclusion of indigent HIV patients from the state’s rent relief program for the seriously ill. But even that bad decision grew out of the state’s financial morass and not from animus. Today, let’s thank Governor David Paterson for his support of the LGBT community and hope that one day soon, we’ll again see thousands of New Yorkers happily marching in the NYC Pride Parade wearing stickers proclaiming “We Luv Our Guv!”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Governor Paterson Signs NY Safe Schools Bill into Law

Today, New York Governor David Paterson signed into law the “Dignity for All Students Act.” The act is a broad safe schools law that requires schools to adopt policies to address harassment and discrimination against students, to educate teachers and students on harassment and bullying and provides reporting requirements. Particularly notable is that the bill enumerates, or lists, classifications for protection including the basis of real or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender – defined to include gender identity and expression- and sex.

Enumerated laws have been shown to provide better actual protections to students and to make students feel safer in school. GLSEN’s 2007 National School Climate Survey found that 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment in school. By highlighting categories of vulnerable students, states send a strong message that all students are valuable and alerts students that they can seek help from teachers and the administration if they face harassment or discrimination.

The “Dignity for All Students Act,” passed by overwhelming majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, also marks the first time the New York Senate has passed legislation explicitly protecting trans people. The step bodes well for passage of the New York “Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act” which would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.

Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination, harassment, and/ or bullying against students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Only 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Tell us something we DIDN'T know!

Today, a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — or CREW —  released a report they say “provides in-depth analyses of 11 elected officials who have pushed their states’ best interests aside in favor of their supporters, families, political parties and bank accounts.” (Read it here.)

Guess who made the list. No really, go on, guess.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Yep, that’s right. Texas’ own Gov. Rick Perry has been deemed one of the 11 worst governors in the country. Imagine that.

So what are the transgressions that landed Perry on the list? Here are the highlights: he allegedly disregarded campaign finance laws and aided a business that was especially generous to his campaign; he refused to operate transparently, and has blocked access to information related to a death penalty case; he rejected federal stimulus funds in a manner that appeared to put partisan politics ahead of the interests of the citizens of Texas; he has perpetuated the revolving door between government and special interests; he accepted travel and campaign donations from a business that received benefits from his official actions; he used campaign funds for a personal trip with questionable relevance to his campaign for office.

You can download a PDF at the CREW website that gives more detailed info on each charge.

Of the 11 governors on CREW’s “worst of” list, nine are Republicans. The other two are Democrats. The list includes Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island, Republican Jim Gibbons of  Nevada, Republican Boby Jindal of Louisiana, Democrat David Paterson of New York, Republican Sonny Perdue of Georgia, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

Now, aren’t we as Texans proud to know that our governor managed to make a list alongside the likes of Mark Sanford, who “subordinated his responsibilities to his pursuit of an extra-marital affair,” and David Paterson who “shielded a top aide from assault charges”? Just brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

—  admin

NY Senate facing vote on gay marriage

New York Gov. David Paterson has called for a special session of the New York State Senate for a vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in that state.

The bill passed the New York House earlier this summer.

According to NBCNewYork.com, Paterson believes he has enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill, but other sources said negotiations are likely to last late into the evening, and it still isn’t clear if marriage supporters have the 32 votes necessary to pass the legislation.

Democrats hold a “shaky 32-30″ majority in the Senate right now, and all 212 seats in the Legislature and the governor’s office up for re-election next year.

Coming a week after Maine voters exercised their “citizens veto” option to reject a same-sex marriage law there, the vote in New York could be either a fantastic boost to marriage rights supporters, or yet another crushing blow.

—  admin