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Daily News: Gov. Cuomo announces plan to enact transgender anti-discrimination protections

By Ken Lovett, 10/23

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo Thursday night announced a plan to provide anti-discrimination protections to transgender people.

A bill to ban discrimination in the areas of employment, housing or public accommodations based on gender identity or expression has repeatedly stalled in the state Senate.

Cuomo told the Empire State Pride Agenda he plans to bypass the Legislature — as he did in raising the minimum wage for fast-food workers — by granting transgender people protections through a regulatory process he controls.

“The scourge of harassment and discrimination against transgender individuals is well-known — and has also gone largely unanswered for too long,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment against transgender people anywhere in the state of New York — period.”

“We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment against transgender people anywhere in the State of New York — period.”

State law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, but does not include transgender protections.

Eighteen states and some localities, including New York City, have enacted their own transgender protections.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat and longtime sponsor of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, called Cuomo’s announcement “a great move” but said the Senate still needs to pass the bill because a future governor can undo the executive action.

A Senate GOP spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long criticized the governor for again going around the Legislature to unilaterally enact something he couldn’t get passed.

“I think he’s starting to consider himself not the governor, he’s considering himself the czar of New York, which he is not,” Long said.

Long argued that everyone should be protected under the law from discrimination and says the bill hasn’t passed the Senate because the Republicans are opposed to “setting up special categories of people to give them special privileges and rights.”

But Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, called the Cuomo announcement a “very welcome development” and said “it will bring New York along with so many other states that have basic protections from discrimination.”

Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who is the only openly gay member of the state Senate, called the move a “bold and courageous step.”

“Soon thousands of New Yorkers will no longer be considered second-class citizens simply because they identify as transgender,” Hoylman said.

Cuomo in 2011 pushed through legislation to legalize gay marriage in New York.

His announcement Thursday comes as he has spent recent months trying to repair his relationship with the left-wing of the Democratic party by pushing to raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour and granting the Attorney General the power to investigate cases where the police shoot civilians.