Hinchey, local activists rally in Kingston for the Equal Rights Amendment

Connor Greco

Originally published in Daily Freeman on .

KINGSTON, N.Y. — State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, and local activists and organizations rallied in support of the Equal Rights Amendment on Saturday, urging Ulster County residents to vote “yes” on the ballot in November.

The Equal Rights Amendment, already passed by the New York State Legislature, would expand on current discrimination protections in New York State, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, age, disability and sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.

The Equal Rights Amendment would also protect against any government actions that would affect a person’s reproductive autonomy or access to reproductive health care.

The rally was held Saturday morning outside of the Restorative Justice Center on Broadway.

Steve Spicer of Hudson Valley Strong emceed the event, with Hinchey and Deputy Mayor of the Village of New Paltz, Alexandria Wojcik, speaking. Local activist organizations were in attendance at the event as well.

Lin Sakai of Indivisible Ulster organized the rally. “It’s not broad enough,” Sakai said, referring to the discrimination protections already in place for race, sex and age. “We want to make sure that it includes the protection of reproductive freedoms, as well as for LGBTQ+, transgender, and people with disabilities.”

Liz Roth, member of Hudson Valley Strong, attended the event, on behalf of Dutchess County. “We’re just trying to help each other as much as we can,” she said. “This New York ERA is very powerful, very important legislation.”

“Not a lot of people know about the Equal Rights Amendment, and they think ‘what’s my role in this?,'” said Mark Campbell, of Hyde Park Democrats. “I think everyone has a role in this, in making sure it gets passed in the fall.”

Local officials in attendance at the event spoke of their support for the Equal Rights Amendment as well.

Deputy Mayor Wojcik  held a moment of silence for the lives of transgender people lost so far in 2024. “Equality is on the ballot this November, survival is on the ballot this November,” Wojcik said. “It’s bleak, it’s depressing, it’s dark. But there’s so much hope here in New York.”

Ulster County Legislator Gregory McCullough was in attendance at the rally, urging Ulster County residents to vote this fall. “I want to let the voters know, know your rights and participate,” he said. “Your voice does matter.”

State Sen. Hinchey addressed the crowd, rallying for the passage of the amendment.

“When we see other states choosing, making the conscious decision to take rights away from people, to come for people and to attack people strictly based on who they are and the healthcare that they need and deserve, we here in New York are fighting back and saying no,” Hinchey said.

Hinchey supported the Equal Rights Amendment when it was still passing through the New York State Legislature. “The Equal Rights Amendment passed the year before the last year, and last year, and now it is on the ballot,” Hinchey said. “That means that every single person in our state will have the opportunity to choose what they stand for.”

According to Hinchey, the passage of the amendment would be important for the state of New York. “As we see a tax on our rights coming from across the country, it is incredibly important that New York stands up as a beacon, that New York is a trailblazer, that New York is the North Star for the rest of the country,” Hinchey said.

“Democracy waits for no one,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated March 31, 2024, at 3:38 p.m. to clarify that Lin Sakai participated in the rally as a member of Indivisible Ulster.