State Senate Dems say LGBT bills routinely killed

Emily Ruscoe

June 24, 2018

Originally published in New York Daily News on June 24, 2018.

Senator Holyman, Chair of the Democratic Conference Policy Group, Re-Issues 'Stranded at the Altar', Detailing the Senate GOP's Failure to Advance the Rights of LGBTQ New Yorkers Since Marriage Equality Passed in 2011

The full report can be accessed in the attachment below. 

State Senate Democrats blasted the Republican majority for prioritizing such issues as the official state sport and amphibian over LGBT causes in the latest legislative session.

An updated report called “Stranded at the Altar” slams GOP lawmakers for failing to pass any of the 21 proposed bills affecting New York’s gay community brought before the state Senate in 2018, extending a run of LGBT futility that began after the passage of the 2011 Marriage Equality Act.

Democratic lawmakers say the Republican-controlled Senate gave the green light to a bill recognizing baseball as the official state sport and another piece of legislation naming the wood frog as the official amphibian of New York.

The more than 1,500 bills passed in 2018 also include 11 on Lyme disease, 16 on distinctive license plates,19 on inland waterways and 40 bills renaming roads and highways.

“While the federal government and other states race ahead to advance LGBT rights, the New York State Senate has left our state’s LGBT residents stranded at the altar,” the report says.

The 21 LGBT-related bills that have died in committee or failed to come up for a vote focused on a range of issues.

One proposal called for the collection of demographic information on sexual orientation and gender identity by state agencies. It passed the Assembly three times since 2014.

Another piece of legislation would require insurers to cover medication that prevents HIV infections.

And yet another proposed bill would restore state benefits to veterans who were discharged other than honorably solely as a result of the old “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.

"You can't negotiate with someone who doesn't recognize your community as being a vital part of the fabric New York State,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan), who authored the report. “It's really hurtful to me, to come to that realization, given that these are my colleagues.”

After the Marriage Equality Act passed in 2011, the four Republican State Senators who had caucused with the Democrats to pass the the landmark legislation all lost their seats to GOP challengers in primary elections. Since then, bills with “LGBT” in them have been dead on arrival, Hoylman said.

“It’s hard to have a discussion when the bills don’t make it to the committee or the floor,” Hoylman said.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for the State Senate Republicans, declined to comment.