ALBANY – While the governor received a lot of attention Tuesday for his state of the state and budget address, the state legislature was also busy making news.
Both the State Senate and Assembly passed a pair of bills that are considered wins for the LGBTQ community.
The legislature – which is now fully controlled by the Democrats – approved a bill that protects LGBTQ youth from the practice of conversion therapy.
Also referred to as “ex-gay therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts,” conversion therapy attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The practice has been discredited by the American Psychological Association—and every other major professional health and mental organization. LGBTQ advocates have also called the practice ineffective and dangerous, saying it can lead to depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicide.
Once the bill is signed into law, New York will be the 15th state to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy.
The Democratic controlled legislature also approved a bill Tuesday that bolsters transgender rights and ensures gender identity and gender expression are protected classes in hate crimes and human rights laws.
The state Assembly and Senate passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) with largely Democratic support.
The purpose of the bill is to prevent employers and housing providers from discriminating against New Yorkers based on their gender identity and gender expression.
GENDA was first introduced in 2003. It has been passed several times by the Democratic-led state Assembly, but it didn’t receive a vote in the Senate. Until this year, Republicans controlled the Senate and prevented the legislation from advancing to the floor for consideration. Now that Democrats are in the majority in the State Senate, they are addressing some legislative priorities that were blocked by the GOP. GENDA was at the top of the list. Many of the proponents argued it builds on the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in 2011.
Both local Senator Catherine Young (R-Olean) and Assembly Andy Goodell (R-Gerry) voted against the GENDA legislation.