Governor to Advance Legislation Banning "Gay Panic" as Accepted Legal Defense for Violent Action Based on Victim's Gender, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation
As the Federal Government Rolls Back Critical Civil Rights Protections, New York Will Lead the Way By Ensuring Fairness and Justice for All
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he has signed an Executive Order to further protect New Yorkers' civil rights by banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination. The Governor also announced he will be advancing legislation that will ban the use of a "Gay Panic" defense to protect against revictimizing New Yorkers. Someone who attacks another based upon a perception, or discovery of, that victim's gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation must be stopped from mitigating guilt by placing blame on the victim. The Governor made the announcements at the 17th Annual Human Rights Campaign Gala in New York City.
"New York will fight every action this federal administration takes that attempts to undo progress we have made," Governor Cuomo said. "We believe America was founded on the premise of uniting people from different countries, religions, and colors, and we welcome diversity under the enlightened understanding that it is not a weakness but rather our greatest strength. With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone. We will enforce our robust protections against discrimination, and continue to build on our legacy of protecting all of us, not simply some of us."
The Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President JoDee Winterhof said, "In a recent HRC survey, nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ people reported having experienced some form of discrimination. By taking action to block discrimination in contracting, Governor Cuomo is once again leading by example to help protect LGBTQ workers and ensure that New Yorkers' taxpayer dollars don't fund discrimination. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for his efforts and continued commitment to accelerating progress toward full LGBTQ equality."
The Trump administration has banned transgender people from serving in the U.S. Military, removed guidance nationwide that helped protect young transgender students at school, and completely removed the LGBTQ community from the National Survey of Older Americans. Additionally, in October 2017, the federal government rescinded a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Car Act. This action has permitted employers and organizations to claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, which has increased the vulnerability of LGBTQ rights.
Following these actions, which perpetuate and tolerate discrimination and taken this nation in the wrong direction, New York is once again stepping up to ensure the rights of individuals across the state are protected.
Governor Cuomo has been a national leader in championing LGBT rights throughout his time in office. In 2011, the Governor passed the historic Marriage Equality Act, sending a clear message that it was time to end one of society's greatest inequities. In 2015, Governor Cuomo implemented regulations affirming that all transgender individuals are protected under the State's Human Rights Law, and that all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated in New York State. In 2017, the Governor established a Hate Crimes Task Force and a hotline for individuals to report bias or hate crimes, and additionally that same year, new regulations were put in place to ensure fertility treatment for all women - regardless of sexual orientation or marital status. The Governor also named the first openly gay judge to the New York Court of Appeals.
To continue New York's support of equality and justice for all, the Governor signed the Executive Order to ban all state contracts with any entity that supports discrimination. The Governor also proposed legislation to prohibit criminal defendants from blaming their victims by pointing to a perception, or disclosure, of the victim's gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. This builds on legislation previously advanced by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell. Finally, the Governor announced that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive state funding.
The Executive Order is available here and the text is included below.
E X E C U T I V E O R D E R
PROHIBITING STATE CONTRACTS WITH ENTITIES THAT SUPPORT DISCRIMINATION
Whereas, New York State has a proud history of fighting for freedom, justice and equality and is committed to ensuring that no one infringes on the civil rights and liberties of its citizens and residents;
Whereas, in 1945, New York earned the proud distinction of being the first state in the nation to enact a Human Rights Law, which affords every citizen an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life;
Whereas, New York State has continuously built upon such legacy by enacting additional protections which include enacting the Dignity for All Students Act to prohibit discrimination, harassment, and bullying in schools; adopting regulations to prohibit harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status, or gender dysphoria; and issuing regulations to prohibit health insurers from discriminating or denying coverage based on gender identity;
Whereas, the federal government has taken steps to roll back fundamental civil rights protections and shirks its responsibility to protect individuals from discrimination and harassment;
Whereas, New York State refuses to follow suit with the federal government and will continue to vigorously defend the right of all its citizens and residents to be free from discrimination;
Whereas, the United States Supreme Court has declared it "incontestable that the Constitution established a system of dual sovereignty" wherein the states retained "a residuary and inviolable sovereignty" of their own; and
Whereas, the protection of the fundamental dignity of New Yorkers is a core sovereign interest of New York State's government;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, ANDREW M. CUOMO, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Laws of the State of New York, do hereby order that New York State's government will not do business with entities that promote or tolerate discrimination or infringement on the civil rights and liberties of New Yorkers and direct State governmental entities as follows:
A. "Affected State Entities" means (i) all agencies and departments over which the Governor has executive authority, and (ii) all public-benefit corporations, public authorities, boards, and commissions, for which the Governor appoints the Chair, the Chief Executive, or the majority of Board Members, except for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
2. New York State Policy.
(a) New York State is dedicated to ensuring that all individuals are treated equally, regardless of their age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, sex, marital status, disability, or other protected basis. To that end, New York has enacted numerous laws, regulations, and policies, and will continue to aggressively enforce its strong protections against discrimination to the maximum extent allowable by law.
(b) This policy shall be observed with respect to, but shall not be limited to, the provision of public goods, services, and accommodations, the educational environment, the workplace, and the provision of health care and insurance services.
3. Agency Responsibilities in State Contracting.
(a) Affected State Entities are hereby directed to amend their procurement procedures to prevent Affected State Entities from entering into contracts with entities that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address the harassment and discrimination of individuals on the basis of their gender identity, transgender status, gender dysphoria or any of the other protected classes enumerated above.
(b) The Office of General Services and the Division of Human Rights shall jointly issue guidelines no later than May 1, 2018 to assist Affected State Entities in the process of identifying entities that shall be subject to the restriction described herein.
(c) Any contract or contract renewal entered into by Affected State Entities for goods, services, technology, or construction on or after June 1, 2018 shall include a binding agreement consistent with the foregoing, and Affected State Entities shall not enter into a contract with any entity providing such goods, services, technology, or construction, directly or indirectly, without such a binding agreement.
(d) These responsibilities shall be observed and implemented to the maximum extent allowable by law.
4. All anti-discrimination protections and guidelines referenced above shall be interpreted broadly and shall not be affected by unduly narrow federal executive branch interpretations of existing federal statutory anti-discrimination protections.