|Gov. Andrew Cuomo marching in Gay Pride Parade|
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced he will use his executive authority to ban discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, credit education, and public accommodations statewide.
Currently, the state prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But after the legislature failed several times to pass a bill protecting transgender New Yorkers, the governor decided to take the apparently unprecedented step of invoking his executive powers on the matter, an administration official said.
Looking for ways to work around the log jam in Albany, lawyers in the governor’s office found that under Executive Law 2995, the New York State Division of Human Rights has the authority to promulgate regulations of the state’s Human Rights Law, the administration official said.
The proposed regulations, which the governor’s office will soon enter into the state registry for a 45-day comment period, would expand definitions of “sex” and “disability” discrimination to include gender identity, gender expression, and gender dysphoria.
Although the Human Rights Law as passed by the state legislature would not itself be amended, the new additions that apply to the law would grant the New York State Division of Human Rights power to enforce the regulations with the force of law.
In 1990, New York passed the Sexual Non-Discrimination Act which bars discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals but not transgenders. Since that time the state Assembly has passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would expand the SNDA to include transgender protections, eight times. But the state Senate has refused to pass the legislation.
Cuomo has long been a champion for LGBT rights including marriage equality.