Governor Announces $6.4 Million for Sexual Assault Prevention and Assistance Providers
Governor Cuomo today signed multiple pieces of legislation designed to protect and further women’s equality in New York State. The new laws will help achieve pay equity, strengthen human trafficking laws and protections for domestic violence victims and end pregnancy discrimination in all workplaces. The Governor also announced that New York State has allocated a total of $6.4 million for Sexual Assault Prevention and Assistance providers across the State. More information is available here.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV-quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor’s remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor’s Flickr page here.
A rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks is below.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you to Ms. Moore for the kind introduction and for all of the advocacy and good work you’ve done over the years. Today is a great day, as the Lieutenant Governor said and we have a lot to celebrate. But before we get to that, although it is a great day, of course, unfortunately it started on a very sad note.
We lost another law enforcement officer last night. Another law enforcement officer was killed in the line of duty and it’s just another episode of what has become all too familiar and all too frequent. A loss of life needlessly by gun violence that is just out of control in this city and in this nation and it is only getting worse. We passed a law in the state of New York that I am very proud of called the SAFE Act, which is the most aggressive law on gun control in the nation. We should all be very proud of that, but frankly it’s not enough because what we did is we closed the front door of New York to guns, but the guns are coming in the back door. All you have to do is get in a car and go to Virginia, go to South Carolina, buy a gun and drive back. The story last night is the story you hear over and over and over again. There was a shootout – a number of young people who were involved in a shootout. A number of guns. A number of shots. Police doing their duty – doing their business. And a police officer running to the danger to help others loses his life.
A few weeks ago, we lost Carey Gabay, who was a colleague of many of us in the Governor’s office. Beautiful, beautiful man. 43 years old. Grew up in the projects. Went to Harvard University. Could have been making a million dollars in a big-shot law firm; we went to government because he wanted to give back – that’s the kind of person he was. Just an innocent victim who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was a shootout and a gun – a bullet entered his skull and he’s gone.
NYPD have lost four officers in the past ten months. That is either going to be the highest rate in the country or one of the highest rates of death of police officers in the country. Just think about that. So, we’ve used the expression before: enough is enough. But enough is enough also of gun violence and losing innocent victims and losing police officers. We want the NYPD to know today that they are in our thoughts and prayers and more, they have the support of every person in the state of New York and whatever we have to do to help them, we will help them. Let’s start with a moment of silence for the family of Officer Randolph Holder, Jr. and we hope that his family can find peace in this very difficult situation.
[Moment of silence.]
With that, today is good news as the Lieutenant Governor said and today is a very long day in coming. A lot of hard work went into today. A lot of meetings, a lot of cups of coffee, a lot of hand wringing, a lot of cajoling, let's say. Which is a nice word, cajoling, covers a whole broader array of things, cajoling. A lot of cajoling, but we set out – we accomplished what we set out to accomplish and we got the goal done.
There's no better place to celebrate than in this house, and want to thank Jennifer Raab and CUNY. This is the Roosevelt home. This is the home that Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin lived in. A lot of history was made in this house. CUNY has done a magnificent job restoring it, and keeping it as the treasure it is for people to remember and people to learn. Let's give Jennifer Raab and CUNY a round of applause.
There's a great new director named Harold Holzer, who we worked with for a long time, pleasure to be with him. I want to thank the Lieutenant Governor especially for her hard work on this initiative, along with Chris Quinn. I think they have been all over the state, dozens and dozens of times advocating for this. It wouldn't happened without their leadership so we thank them very much.
This is a situation where I think the women in the Legislature led, and sort of pushed the male colleagues aside and said this one is non-negotiable and this one you are just going to do and that is the end of the conversation. We thank Senator Cathy Young and Senator Donna Lupardo who are here representing the women of the Senate and the women of the Assembly today. Let's give them a round of applause.
We also had a coalition of about 850 groups, women's groups, that was put together—and men's groups, but predominantly women's groups. It really shows that organizing still works, and getting people in a room still works, and informing people still works and democracy works. If you organize people and if you make your voice heard, people will respond. We had some very powerful leadership organizing the groups, like Suzy Ballantyne and Donna Lieberman and Dina Bakst and the whole group. Let's give them a round of applause for their good work.
This is exciting for me personally. Those of us who are in government: you are in government because you believe the government is a vehicle to make this place a better place. We spent a lot of time focusing on how to improve the state's economy and how to improve the state's finances, and how to make the state more competitive from an economic point of view. We spent a lot of time on job development and taxation and roads and bridges. All very important functions, to be sure. But there's another function of government, which speaks to government as a vehicle to design and shape social policy. To design and shape who we are as a people, and who we are as a society. What we believe, and what we want to be. That is also a very important role for government. Probably more difficult than the other tasks, but also probably more important.
This bill goes just to that. This bill is about facing our situation as a society, saying, "We're not happy, we can do better and we want to do something about it and the actually accomplishing that." And it goes to a central tenant of New York, you know, what is New York all about? New York is all about diversity right? We're all about then lady in the harbor, the Statue of Liberty who says, "Come here, we welcome you, all races, all color, all creeds, people from all across the world." Emma Lazarus, "We don't care if you're rich, you're poor, come to New York." Diversity, we're comfortable with it. The flip side of diversity is equality because if you're inviting people in the name of diversity, then you are also saying at the same time, "We believe in total equality and we're not going to judge you by the color of your skin or by your religion, or by your race, or by your gender."
New York is a monument for that and we stand up for that and we make that point whenever we can. Gay or straight, we're not going to judge you. And we passed marriage equality, why? Because love doesn't discriminate and that's our way of saying it. Black or white. Equality. That’s why we're so aggressive on the non-discrimination laws, and the fair housing laws and the special prosecutors, the Attorney General, because we believe in equality. Male or female are equal, why? Because that's what New York is all about.
Now, the first step towards solving a problem, is admitting the problem. I remember I was at a dinner party and my father was still alive, he was with us, and someone asked me what I was planning for the State of the State, which was upcoming. I said we're going to plan a Women's Equality Act and they said, "What is that?" I said, "Well, you know, women are still discriminated against in society." The person said to me, "Oh, you can't say that." I said, "Why can't I say that?" "Oh, well that's a very negative statement, and that's a very harsh statement." And my father who was a few seats away said, "Yes, but it's true." That was my old man and he was right. It’s negative and harsh and it's hard to hear, but it's true, and the first step in solving a problem is admitting the problem.
We discriminate against women. The old line from the song ‘It's a Man's World’. There is a duality. It's cultural, it's stereotypical, but it is there and it's also the facts which tell a damning story. Women earn $11,000 less per year for similar positions, a half a million dollars less per year. Women are twice as likely to wind up living in poverty. Five times more likely to be sexually harassed. 32 times less likely to become a CEO. There are two realities. Admit it. Address it. And that’s the first step towards the resolution of it and that's what the Women's Equality Act is all about. And today we're going to sign the most comprehensive set of laws in the nation that will establish equality for women all across the board. It's a recognition of the inequality and a resolution of the inequality at the same time.
The laws we sign will achieve pay equity, protect victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, strengthen the human trafficking laws – which is still a major problem in the state of New York – protect victims of domestic violence from housing discrimination, remove barriers of remedying discrimination, family status discrimination, protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening orders of protection, and protect women from pregnancy discrimination.
We are also announcing today that an aggravating factor of the inequality is the power differential between men and women. One of the places you see that manifest is in the sexual assault of young women on college campuses. That is a compounding of the inequality and the power divide. One out of every five women on a college campus is predicted to be a victim of sexual assault. Just think about that – one out of five. Today we passed a law, the Enough is Enough law, that says affirmative consent. That says is a crime. The person as a victim has a right to the police rather than just a campus resolution and part of that has to be to get the victim the assistance and support they need. And today we announce $4.5 million to the sexual assault and rape crisis centers so that they can do their job and protect victims of assault and rape.
One law that we have not yet passed in the state of New York is a state law that protects a woman’s right to choose, but on that one the right goes on. And on that, I can tell you that as long as I am governor of the State of New York, I will protect a woman’s right to choose with every fiber in my being.
What’s most poignant to me is the simplicity of this law. A lot of bills that we sign, I sign with my colleagues, are technical and they take a long explanation and there’s numbers and there’s acronyms. This is very simple. We are signing these laws because this is the right thing to do because this says what New York always says: we are all equal; we don’t judge; we accept; level playing field for all – gay or straight, it doesn’t matter. Black or white, it doesn’t matter. And that this state has a history and a legacy of leading the way. We are admitting a problem that exists nationwide – it is not a New York problem. New York is probably better than most states, frankly, when it comes to this. But it is a statewide problem that needs to be addressed and New York will lead the way. The way we did with marriage equality. The way we did with fracking. The way we did with guns. The way we did with the most progressive tax code in the nation. We will show the nation the problem and the resolution and that’s what the Women’s Equality Act is all about.
It’s the right thing to do for my three daughters who are second to no one on the basis of their gender. And it’s the right thing to do to every woman and daughter and aunt and sister in society who’s been dealt and inferior set of cards just by their gender up until today. It is so in fitting with the tradition of the Roosevelts and especially Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, ‘It is okay to be a strong woman. It is okay to be a powerful woman – a woman of opinion. It is okay to be a powerful partner to a powerful man in a marriage. It is okay to be a powerful figure in a political marriage.’ And she did phenomenal good and her words resonate today when she said, “In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes.”
Today, the state of New York chooses to a model of equality for women all across this nation. And that, my friends, is the right choice. Congratulations.