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Half of All State Senators Support GENDA; Advocates to Lobby Again May 11

Posted by , May 03, 2010 at 8:17pm

Half of All State Senators Support GENDA; Advocates to Lobby Again May 11

Housing Works staffers and transgender activists Bali White and Kiara St. James with Melissa Sklarz in Albany to lobby senators to support GENDA

The New York State Senate is slowly coming around to supporting equal rights for gender nonconforming people.

Housing Works latest vote count has 31 state senators firmly in support of the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act (GENDA). The bill prohibits discrimination in housing, employment and all other areas covered by New York State Human Rights Law. Only one more ‘yes’ vote is needed to have a majority in the 62-person Senate.

While nothing is ever for sure in Albany, Senate GENDA passage would be monumental, particularly because many of the supporting senators voted against that other LGBT-backed bill—marriage equality—last session.

One possible snag is that GENDA needs to get through the Government Operations Committee, where renowned LGBT-foe Ruben Diaz Sr. could stall the bill.

GENDA has already passed the Assembly three years in a row. See Housing Works’ GENDA timeline.

Getting to yes

At a GENDA lobby day last Tuesday, 30 transgender people from around the state visited undecided senators’ staffers. Director for New York State Public Policy and Organizing Carmelita Cruz said the ‘nos’ didn’t seem unbending. “The ‘no’-vote senators’ staffers stressed that they didn’t know why their senators were opposed and said they would go back and check,” Cruz said.

Transgender Rights Organization member Melissa Sklarz said, “I hope what we did is plant a transgender seed in their brains about what GENDA is and how it matters.”

The current confirmed “yes” votes are Sens. Eric Adams, Joseph Addabbo, James Alesi, Neil Breslin, Martin Dilan, Tom Duane, Pedro Espada, John Flanagan, Brian Foley, Ruth Hassel-Thompson, Shirley Huntley, Craig Johnson, Jeffrey Klein, Liz Krueger, Roy McDonald, Velmanette Montgomery, George Onorato, Suzi Oppenheimer, Kevin Parker, Jose Peralta, Bill Perkins, John Sampson, Diane Savino, Eric Schneiderman, Jose Serrano, Malcolm Smith, Daniel Squadron, Toby Ann Stavisky, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Antoine Thompson and David Valesky.

The vote count inclues 15 “maybes” and 16 “nos.” This count is based on calls and meetings Housing Works has had with the senators or their staffers.

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