Thursday, January 17, 2019

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LGBTQ legislation approved in Albany, celebrated locally

NEWBURGH – State legislators who represent Newburgh joined in celebrating the passage of two measures in support of LGBTQ rights and they passed on the second day of the state session.

Senator James Skoufis (D, Woodbury) and Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson (D, Newburgh) marked the passing of GENDA and legislation to ban conversion therapy.


Applause for Assembllyman Jonathan Jacobson, left, and Senator James Skoufis, on passage of the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act

GENDA, or the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, allows for transgender people to have the protections as others falling under the LGBTQ umbrella, including discrimination protection in housing, medical, employment and education, among many other areas where discrimination could be an issue. The bill also includes transgender in the state hate crime legislation, affording them the same protection as other minorities.

The ban on conversion therapy is self-explanatory. The controversial practice of trying to reverse homosexuality through therapy is now illegal in New York and could result in the loss of therapeutic, or psychological, licenses if practitioners are caught continuing past the legislation’s enacted date.

Rae Liner is the executive director and co-founder of the Newburgh LGBTQ Community Center.

“Conversion therapy is an arcane and inhumane response to the way that somebody is,” Liner said. “You can’t choose who you love.”

Skoufis said it was embarrassing for such a long time to go by without any LGBTQ rights measures passed in New York and he is glad the Assembly and Senate are finally working together effectively on this.

“Here we are in New York State, the birthplace of the gay rights movement here in the United States – home of Stonewall and despite that, for the past eight years, we have not seen one LGBTQ rights piece of legislation move forward in New York State since Marriage Equality – not one bill,” said Skoufis.

Both Skoufis and Jacobson agree the new Senate and Assembly relationship seems to be the most productive the state has had for some time. Both houses are now controlled by Democrats.

They noted 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and both officials agree LGBTQ rights will remain a priority for state legislators.

 


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