This morning, before a room packed with advocates, allies, and journalists at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, New York Governor David Paterson signed Executive Order No. 33 prohibiting discrimination against any employees of New York State agencies on the basis of their gender identity or expression.
Word of his intention to do so spread quickly yesterday after The New York Times received the news. He followed through today in grand style, joined at the podium by state legislators, including Senator Tom Duane, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell.
NY1 quoted Gov. Paterson saying, "The transgender community has had to wait for what are the same freedoms and equalities that everyone else enjoys, in terms of employment and choices all around this state. And as far as state employees are concerned, that problem ends today."
The governor emphasized that while his executive order cannot be as sweeping as similar state legislation would be, it can nonetheless pave the way for larger steps toward LGBT equality in the near future. Paterson cheerfully quipped that this order represented one of the lessons he had learned in politics: “If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.” And to those skeptical of the distance New York has yet to come in order to protect transgender and gender non-conforming workers from discrimination, he promised, “You’ve only seen the first act. You haven’t seen the grand finale.”
FOX 40 has posted a summary of this morning’s signing, including statements from the many supportive legislators and transgender rights advocates around the state.
Prominent among them were the sentiments of Senator Tom Duane – who worked with then Senate Minority Leader-Paterson to include gender expression protections in the original Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in 2002 – promising that he and his allies in the Senate would not relent in their push to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a marriage equality bill, and the Dignity for All Students Act “until equal protection under the law is a reality for all New Yorkers.”
GLAAD will continue to provide updates on media coverage of any further progress in protecting all employees from workplace discrimination.