Albany, NY - February 5, 2018 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he has signed an Executive Order to further protect New Yorkers' civil rights by banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination. The Governor also announced he will be advancing legislation that will ban the use of a "Gay Panic" defense to protect against revictimizing New Yorkers. Someone who attacks another based upon a perception, or discovery of, that victim's gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation must be stopped from mitigating guilt by placing blame on the victim. The Governor made the announcements at the 17th Annual Human Rights Gala in New York City.
"New York will fight every action this federal administration takes that attempts to undo progress we have made," Governor Cuomo said. "We believe America was founded on the premise of uniting people from different countries, religions, and colors, and we welcome diversity under the enlightened understanding that it is not a weakness but rather our greatest strength. With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone. We will enforce our robust protections against discrimination, and continue to build on our legacy of protecting all of us, not simply some of us."
The Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President JoDee Winterhof said, "In a recent HRC survey, nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ people reported having experienced some form of discrimination. By taking action to block discrimination in contracting, Governor Cuomo is once again leading by example to help protect LGBTQ workers and ensure that New Yorkers' taxpayer dollars don't fund discrimination. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his efforts and continued commitment to accelerating progress toward full LGBTQ equality."
The Trump administration has banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. Military, removed guidance nationwide that helped protect young transgender students at school, and completely removed the LGBTQ community from the National Survey of Older Americans. Additionally, in October 2017, the federal government rescinded a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Car Act. This action has permitted employers and organizations to claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, which has increased the vulnerability of LGBTQ rights.
Following these actions, which perpetuate and tolerate discrimination and taken this nation in the wrong direction, New York is once again stepping up to ensure the rights of individuals across the state are protected.
Governor Cuomo has been a national leader in championing LGBT rights throughout his time in office. In 2011, the Governor passed the historic Marriage Equality Act, sending a clear message that it was time to end one of society's greatest inequities. In 2015, Governor Cuomo implemented regulations affirming that all transgender individuals are protected under the State's Human Rights Law, and that all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated in New York State. In 2017, the Governor established a Hate Crimes Task Force and a hotline for individuals to report bias or hate crimes, and additionally that same year, new regulations were put in place to ensure fertility treatment for all women - regardless of sexual orientation or marital status. The Governor also named the first openly gay judge to the New York Court of Appeals.
To continue New York's support of equality and justice for all, the Governor signed the Executive Order to ban all state contracts with any entity that supports discrimination. The Governor also proposed legislation to prohibit criminal defendants from blaming their victims by pointing to a perception, or disclosure, of the victim's gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. This builds on legislation previously advanced by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell. Finally, the Governor announced that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive state funding.