Saturday, January 19, 2019

GENDA to ENDA discrimination & Ban Conversion Therapy in New York State

 New York parents will sleep better knowing that GENDA and Ban on Conversion Therapy passed the New York House and Senate on January 9, 2019.

GENDA or Gender Expression Non-Discrimination bill added gender identity and expression to the state's anti-discrimination laws as a protected class in housing, employment and public accommodations.  Legally, it declares that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency or shortcoming.  

This passage in the Assembly (134-3) and Senate (57-4) is quite a victory for LGBT rights because since 2003, GENDA has been put forward in the New York State Legislature, but died in the Republican-controlled New York Senate.  The bill was sponsored by all new 39 Democratic senators in the new Democratic majority and was sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, the only openly member of the Senate.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign this bill as well as the Conversion Therapy ban the week of January 21st.  The ban on conversion therapy would prohibit licensed therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation that The Human Rights Campaign refers to as a "fraudulent practice." (For more information about conversion therapy, see my blogpost https://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com/2018/11/you-cant-pray-gay-away.html.) Supporters said these two pieces of legislation are the most significant civil rights bills specifically impacting the state's LGBTQ community since same-sex marriage passed in 2011. 

It would be great if ALL states could have these laws, but there is no FEDERAL law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.  Because there is ambiguity in the courts regarding the definition of sex, LGBT citizens are at the mercy of municipal and state law.  In over half the U.S. states, you can still expect discrimination.  Let's hope New York State will serve as a beacon for others.
 


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