Governor Cuomo: "New York is setting the line forward. Why? Because that's what New York does. And that I believe is what New York does institutionally. We are the socially progressive capitol of the nation and it is our job to raise the bar higher and higher."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks at the Women's March Breakfast in New York City.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below.
Good morning. Are we fired up today? Are we ready to march today? Let's give Sonya and the NOW Organization - is really mobilizing, she's doing a great job, let's give her a big round of applause. I love Tish James and so should you. What an advocate she is. Melissa DeRosa is the first female Secretary to the Governor in the history of the state of New York. Let's give her a round of applause. To all of the women organizers - all of the women who are here today - congratulations. Good for you for showing up. Good for you for standing up and I'm excited about the possibilities.
The government is shutdown. Normally that would necessarily be a bad thing. I'm not so sure that with this government shut down, it's a bad thing. I think many of us would have taken that for the past year. First rule is, do no harm, and they have done plenty of harm.
I would also like to thank my colleagues who are here from the Assembly and the Senate. I believe together we are going to pass the most progressive women's agenda ever passed this year. I'm excited. I'm excited. Every cloud has a silver lining and I am actually excited about where we are today, because I think this is a moment in history. I think we will look back to this moment as a transformational moment for women. We are standing on a spot, we have a moment in history and it is a highly energized moment. And we have a line back and we have a line forward. The line back is where the federal government wants to take us and where they are taking us. The line back is very clear: you have a President of the Unites States who simply does not respect women. It's that simple. Before policy and before issues, it's a simple issue of respect and perception of the relationship. And to this President, women are all about a Miss America contest. That's what it's all about. There was even a remark a couple of weeks ago, "Why don't we invite more Norwegians?" he's still thinking Miss American Contest. It's then coupled with a Congress that is an extreme, conservative, socially conservative Congress that is rolling back all the progress that we've made. Roe v. Wade - rolled back. Contraceptive care - rolled back. Equal pay rights - rolled back. Anti-discrimination laws - rolled back. Sexual harassment on campus policies - rolled back. It's clear where they're going and it's clear what they believe. They don't hide what they believe. They don't secret what they believe. They are extremely conservative when it comes to social issues and that's what they've been pushing from day one. And they're saying, "Go back here."
New York is setting the line forward. Why? Because that's what New York does. And that I believe is what New York does institutionally. We are the socially progressive capitol of the nation and it is our job to raise the bar higher and higher. My father did that before me with every social issue that was pressing at the time, he said let me show you through New York, what the progressive bar is, and especially when it comes to women. I think God sent the Cuomo's a special message when it came to women. He did. God acts in strange ways. My mother and father have five children. Three girls, two boys. We don't count the other boy, it's really one boy. They marry all sorts of different people. We have Jewish brother-in-law, Irish brother-in-law, all sorts of different combinations. 14 grandchildren, out of 14 grandchildren, 13 girls. That's God, because it's not math. It's not probability. It's God saying I want you to have a vested interest in taking care of women. My three girls, the, New York sets the bar, now New York and the history and the legacy of New York is we always set the bar on progressive issues.
The women's rights movement started here with Seneca Falls. Workers' rights movement started here with the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Civil rights movement started here with NAACP. Gay Rights movement started here with Stonewall. The environmental rights movement started here at Storm King. All the great environmental movements started here. So it's our place to set the line forward and we are. We have the most aggressive women's empowerment agenda that this state has ever seen. It starts with writing Roe v. Wade into the law because that's what we need to do. It starts with changing the state's constitution so that women are protected in the constitution and sex is added as a protected class. It's a contraceptive care act that protects a woman's right to choose because it's about control and respect and it's a woman's body, it's a woman's choice. And it takes on this issue of sexual harassment heads on. It says first of all, no government money used to pay for sexual harassment settlement to take care of someone who did something wrong. It says no more secret nondisclosure agreements, we can private, keep the woman's privacy, but let's know who was part of the settlement. It says any company that the state does business with has to release the number of sexual harassment agreements and violations that that company has signed. It says before the state controller picks a company to do business with, let's make sure the state has adequate female and minority representation on the Board of Directors. It says let the State come up with a uniform policy for sexual harassment, the policy, the procedures, and let every government in the State of New York follow the same policy state, local, all 10,000 governments, follow the same sexual harassment policy and procedure.
Now, we have a moment to pass this agenda. So we have the line backwards, we have the line forwards, and then we have a moment. And there is energy in this moment. Why? Because as Sonia said, there's an anger about what the federal government has been doing. And people are energized, and people who don't care about government normally, they care about government now because they see the harm it can do. So we have that source of energy. And then we have the source of energy that is the outrage at this, what society has just seen in terms of sexual harassment. It is outrageous. Now nobody should be surprised to find out that there's sexual harassment in society, right? That's Casablanca. Gambling, I'm shocked, I'm shocked there's gambling. Sexual harassment in the workplace, I'm shocked at the sexual harassment in the workplace. It's always been there. It's been society's dirty little secret, let's be honest. It was always there. But the exposure has shown the expanse, has shown that it's not just the uninformed, the ignorant, the arrogant. Top levels of corporate America. Top newsrooms. Hollywood. It's pervasive. And it's been going on for years with impunity. And it's an outrage. And women have had the courage to stand up and tell the truth and that is a beautiful statement. And we applaud their courage.
And society is saying today, we have to do something. We're afraid they're pulling us back. We want to go forward. We're afraid of the abuse that we've suffered. And we must respond to this outrage of sexual harassment that has been going on forever and it has reached the highest levels of corporate America. We have to do something. Now change comes when people demand change. Change comes when people demand change. But you have to be ready to seize the moment. You have to be ready to seize the moment. We were trying to pass a gun control law in Albany for decades. We couldn't get it passed. Sandy Hook happened, the massacre at Sandy Hook, where the nation saw school children killed. And the national outrage went up, and the outrage in New York went up, and you know what we did? We passed the best gun control bill in the United States the next week.
We had that kind of moment here. We can seize the energy in this moment. Use the New York agenda and say we're going to pass that New York agenda and we're going to hold it up for the rest of the nation to see what we should be doing if we actually want to protect women and respect women, here's a feasible real program that can be passed. And when you pass something in New York, it's not just New York, he says with New York arrogance. But it also happens to be true. Nobody would pass marriage equality. New York State stood up, first large state in the United States to pass marriage equality. You know what happened the next week? They took a microphone and went to the President of the United States and they said what would you do if you were Governor Cuomo on marriage equality? They went to the Vice President of the United States. They went to every governor in the United States. They went to every state representative in the United States, and said what would you do?
We pass this women's empowerment agenda in New York, it's not just for New York. It will set a new standard for the nation. It will ask the question to every governor and every legislator, will you do the same? You can take this moment. You take this moment, you take this pain, you take this anger, you take this outrage, you take this embarrassment and you use it as a force for good, as a force for social reform. You take that apathy and you say we're not going to sit back and take it anymore. We're going to stand up and march and we're going to march today and we're going to march forward every day until we actually make change and reform society and stop it from happening, so my daughter doesn't have to live in the same society that abuses women. And that's what today is all about. And that's what this march and this moment is all about. It's about the immediacy of now. It's about the immediacy of the threat from the federal government. The outrage of the sexual harassment that has gone on with impunity, and the demand for positive change. And change now. Pass the law in New York. Take that law, protect New Yorkers, show it up to the nation and say, we can be better.
We must be better. We will be better. We're going to respect women finally. Thank you and God bless you.