Today, the Supreme Court ruled that there is still room for discrimination against LGBTQ persons in day-to-day business dealings. In a narrow ruling, a majority of the Court held that a state commission in Colorado had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom in ruling against the right-wing religious baker who had refused to create a custom wedding cake for a gay couple.
"In New York, we're lucky to have among the nation's strongest public accommodations protections for LGBTQ people," said LID President Scott Klein. "But the ruling makes it clear that we need to do more. Not everyone in our community is protected. We need a Democrat-controlled New York State Senate to pass GENDA now."
GENDA, or the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, would add gender expression and identity as a protected class in New York State's human rights and hate crimes laws, prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas, and providing enhanced penalties for bias-motivated crimes. LID, among many other progressive advocacy organizations, has supported GENDA's passage for many years. First introduced in 2003, it has passed the NY State Assembly every year since 2007 but remains stalled in the Republican-controlled State Senate.
Brooklyn-based LID worked throughout the 1990s for the passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and was finally passed in 2003. GENDA would address a gap in SONDA's anti-discrimination provisions, which did not explicitly include protections based upon gender identity and expression.
"Fortunately, this case is very narrow," said LID Vice President Jared Arader. "It only tells us not to bother giving LGBTQ money to right-wing businesses. But not everyone in Brooklyn, or throughout our state, can make that choice. This further underscores the need to pass GENDA immediately."
Klein further noted that the New York City Council has worked hard to protect LGBTQ New Yorkers beginning in 1986 with the Gay Rights Bill. Last year, it passed legislation prohibiting conversation therapy.