Fulfills Vow to Pass GENDA and Ban Conversion Therapy in First 100 Days of Legislative Session
Part of Governor's Sweeping Reform Package to Protect LGBTQ Rights
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and legislation banning the practice of conversion therapy, signifying a landmark victory for the LGBTQ community and fulfilling the Governor's vow to sign this legislation within the first 100 days of the legislative session. More information is available here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you. Glennda Testone and the Center—aren't they great? Let's thank them for everything they do. God bless you. How great is Glennda—with a new baby at home she's that sharp in the morning. Today is a press conference, celebration. Most of all it's an emotional day for me. Days like this when you see me make this type of progress, you tend to remember how long the struggle has been. And how many people felt pain during that struggle and how many people we lost who aren't with us here today. And who we lost before they saw the good days and they say the accomplishments and they saw the acceptance. And let's give them a round of applause, all the early ones.
Senator Tom Duane, talk about a pioneer. Talk about someone who went out there and told the story of pain and truth that opened people's eyes. Let's give Tom Duane a round of applause. God bless you. God bless you.
Tom Duane was there when he worked with a gentleman named Mario Cuomo who was the first Governor in the nation to talk about the problem of HIV and AIDS. That's what New York was with our leadership. And that's what we're trying to continue.
Dominque Jackson, who if I had that much of her talent I wouldn't have to be doing what I'm doing. Let's give her a big round of applause. You'll hear from her in a moment.
Our sponsor, Brad Hoylman and Deborah Glick, we thank them. You're going to hear from Brad and Deborah. Dick Gottfried has carried the GENDA bill for more years than I care to remember. I bet you it's like 15, 16 years. And he never, ever gave up. Stand up, Dick. Let us say thank you once again.
To our great Lieutenant Governor, to my Secretary, first female Secretary in the history of the state of New York, Melissa DeRosa, give her a round of applause. And to a counsel who has probably done more to move this issue forward, one way or another, we set a goal and somehow we get it done. And that's Alphonso David. God bless him.
First, I want to thank everyone in this room and I want to thank the people of the state of New York for the honor of giving me another term to serve as Governor of this great state. There is no greater honor. Glennda mentioned that it's a crazy time. She couldn't be more right. No one could make up the situation that we're in. And it gets worse every day. Today they issue a ground stop—they halt flights leaving LaGuardia Airport. Why do they do that? Because due to the federal shutdown, there are too few staff at the FAA in Washington to adequately control air traffic and they have to reduce flights coming from airports on the East Coast like LaGuardia due to the staffing shortage.
I mean, look at the level of madness that we have going on in this nation right now. Where a purely political shutdown, when the President talks about the wall, this is just a campaign symbol to him. This is what he said in the campaign, "I'm going to get you a wall." Was there any policy? Was there any intelligence? Did any genius say this is how you do it? No. But it's not about policy. And it's not about what works. It's about pure base politics. And he wants to be able to say to his political people who believe the future is by excluding other people, "I got you the wall."
And now it's not just Washington in the beltway, now literally, they're slowing down air traffic in the United States of America. The hypocrisy of a president who talks about helping the economy, this is going to do nothing but set up back. He talks about security, meanwhile the TSA agents at the airports are furloughed and aren't getting paid. So, it's another day of federal madness.
The good news is that in light of the federal madness, it makes what New York does even more important. And what you're seeing here really is a juxtaposition between one philosophy and one mentality in Washington, and New York is laying out a totally different alternative and philosophy.
Now, Glennda said we've been very busy, and we have been, we have been busy. We're always busy, but this is like hectic busy like I've never seen. Signing a lot of bills. My daughter calls me and says boy you're doing a lot. I said have you been following it? Well you've been doing a lot. Which means she hasn't been following it and she's afraid of the follow up question. I said well isn't it amazing. Well yeah but it's a lot, she said. It's a lot. I said yeah they are, the volume is high and they are apparently different, the bills that we're passing. But they're really not different. There's really a common link under all of these bills that connect and they are all defining a different set of social values than what we see in Washington. Not just are we saying we are different than Washington and articulating a different philosophy and alternative for the American people while we protect our people but we're then actually acting on it. And the acting on it as my colleagues in the legislature have demonstrated, that's everything in government. People are too tired of just talking and saying and my position is this and I propose this and I believe this. Who cares at one point what you think and what you believe? What did you do to make my life better? What did you do to secure my rights? What have you accomplished for me?
So passing the law that changes reality, that's what it's about. And that's what we're doing. And every one of these bills is a juxtaposition to what they're doing. They say in Washington we're going to appoint Supreme Court Justices who can roll back Roe v. Wade because they're going to take us back 47 years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided. 47 years. And this President and this administration wants to take us back 47 years. We say no, no. You're taking us back? We're going forward. We're going to sign the letter, we're going to pass a women's right to choose and put it into the law and I want a Constitutional amendment so no legislature or governor can change it. They want to argue about building, they want to argue about building walls. And immigrants are bad. We're saying immigrants are bad? We're all immigrants in New York. We're all here from somewhere else. Unless you're a Native American. We embrace immigration, it gives us energy, it helps us, it helps our economy. So we passed the DREAM Act so we can educate our people here so they can be stronger, more successful, which makes us all stronger and more successful.
They want to disenfranchise voters. They believe the more people vote, the worse for them. Which is a problem when you're in elected office. My advice would be—don't create that problem. But they have. So now they have to stop people from voting, at this time when people feel alienated. We believe the exact opposite. And we just passed laws that allow voting easier than ever before with early voting, pre-registration, let people vote.
It's all the same point. They believe in a duality of society. One set of rules for the rich and the powerful and another set of rules for everyone else. Next week, we're going to pass the Child Victims Act. Which is very simple. Whoever abuses a child should be held liable, I don't care if you're rich, I don't care if you're powerful, I don't care if you're a rabbi, a priest or a shoemaker. Whoever abuses a child should be liable.
Next week we're going to pass more gun safety laws. Why? Because they're saying the 2nd Amendment above all. How do we fight guns? Give everybody a gun. And then everything could be a shootout because the good people could shoot against the bad people. We'll give teachers guns. Everybody will have a gun. And everything will be a spontaneous wild west shootout. Yeah. It's madness. We passed the toughest gun safety law in the United States of America after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut. I took a lot of political heat for it. it was the first in the nation. And a lot of people were angry and they said well we overreacted because Sandy Hook massacre, that was a once in a lifetime, it'll never happen again. Oh really? Again and again and again. We have more school shootings, more mass shootings than at any time in history. We don't need less gun control; we need more sensible gun control. And that's what we're going to do next week.
And today, today—we sign the GENDA bill. Which says it all. The Supreme Court says you can discriminate against transgender in the military. That's what they said last week. We say today—no you can't. You cannot discriminate against people by gender identity, period. And I want everyone in this room to be proud of what we have done on our leadership on this issue together. There is no state that has been more aggressive in advocating and achieving rights and acceptance for the LGBTQ community than the state of New York. No state has done what we have done. First big state to pass marriage equality and we changed the dialogue of the nation because of your work. We stopped reimbursement for conversion therapy and called it the farce that it is. 2015, we took an executive action that said no discrimination against a person on the basis of a gender identity, period. And today we're going to sign it into law.
This, my friends, this is New York at its best. This is New York at its best. And it's New York showing two different paths at a time when this nation is scared and confused and fearful of the future. And what they're really saying at the end of the day in Washington is very basic and simple. And it's not just anti-New York, it is anti-American. What they are trying to do is draw lines of division. Their strategy has always been divide and conquer. And what they're trying to say to the people of this country is, "we're different and the differences should generate fear and anger and hate." We have different religions, different races, different sexual orientations and they use that to spread fear.
New York says the opposite. Of course we're different, we said from day one we were different. The founding of the nation was premised on the point that we were different. We said we were going to invite everyone from around the world. We said that! And we said, we said, Statue of Liberty, "e pluribus unum" on the flag, on the seal behind the president's desk. All he has to do is turn around and look at it. It says, "e pluribus unum." Out of many, one. We will accept and will promise equality. That's the American value. Don't preach to us about who's more American and more patriotic. We believe in the original founding of this nation. Full equality for all! And that's all we're asking for but that's what we're demanding and that's what we're achieving today. And my last point is this: their way will not work. Spreading fear will not work. Spreading division will not work. Because hate is not the strongest four letter word. Love is the strongest four letter word. God bless you.