NY Governor Paterson signs transgender protections order

Wed. December 16, 2009 12:00 AM by OnTopMag.com

ny governor david paterson

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New York - New York Governor David Paterson signed an executive order Wednesday protecting transgender state employees from workplace discrimination.

Flanked by gay rights activists, Paterson signed the order at a press event at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Greenwich Village.

"For generations, New York has been a national leader on civil rights, yet the State has lagged far behind in securing basic civil rights for transgender New Yorkers," Paterson said. "I am proud to sign this important measure to not only bring workforce protection to the transgender community under the law, but to bring greater equality and civil rights to the State of New York."

"From now on, transgender New Yorkers will be protected from discrimination because of who they are," he added.

Gay activists have lobbied for a similar statewide measure in the New York Legislature. Lawmakers in the Assembly have twice approved the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a bill that would protect transgender persons in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, education and credit, but the Senate has so far refused to hear the issue.

"This executive order sends a strong message that it is simply not acceptable to discriminate against someone because they fail to live up to another person's expectations on whether they act masculine or feminine enough," Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's largest gay rights advocate, said in a statement.

"Hiring and promoting decisions should be made based upon qualifications and performance and not on anything else. New York now begins to catch up to where many other states have been for quite a while," he added.

But the order falls short of what many other states have approved. It does not apply to employees working in the public sector or include housing and public accommodation provisions like many states have enacted. Paterson, however, cannot implement those changes without approval from the Legislature.

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