LGBTQ Rights and Issues
As the first openly LGBTQ representative in New York State, I have long fought for equality for the LGBTQ community. Although, after many strides in some areas, and a long, difficiult struggle we emerged victorious on the issue of marriage equality, there are still many pressing issues that impact the LGBTQ community which I continue to address.
Gay Conversion Therapy
I was proud to be the lead sponsor of the bill that bans so-called “conversion therapy” practices from being administered to minors in New York State. This pseudoscientific practice is dangerous, discredited, and based on a bigoted assumption that LGBTQ individuals can and should be “fixed.” This legislation, finally passed in 2019 by both houses after many years, makes certain that this practice will not harm another LGBTQ youngster.
In 2019, the Legislature also passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) which ensures that gender identity and gender expression are defined as protected classes in New York State human rights and hate crimes laws. For many years, New Yorkers who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming have been left out of basic civil rights protections afforded to those who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. I was pleased to co-sponsor this vital piece of legislation that ensures that all members of the LGBTQ
community are given a voice and protected in New York State.
Assisting LGBT Elder Veterans
I am proud to have assisted in funding a program targeting LGBT veterans that will improve their access to VA benefits and overall wellness. SAGE’s LGBT Elder Veterans Initiative will offer legal counsel and comprehensive case-management services to LGBT elder veterans. There are more than 40,000 LGBT elder veterans who served their country proudly but have not received the recognition and support they deserve. This program will begin to address that historic injustice. As part of this initiative, SAGE will offer legal counsel to LGBT elder veterans with their applications and appeals for veterans’ benefits, including assistance with changing a veteran’s discharge status to honorable where necessary—a change made possible by the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that barred openly gay, lesbian or bisexual persons from military service.