We Are Your New York State Government Watchdog
We have been instrumental in passing landmark legislation that guarantees that the members of our community have access to basic civil rights. Passing these laws, however, is only the beginning. A law on the books means nothing if it is not implemented—equality under the law does not necessarily mean justice served. After we celebrate the victory of a law’s passage, we must remain vigilant to make sure our hard-won victories in Albany become a reality on the ground in every corner of the state.
The Empire State Pride Agenda is proud to be the eyes and ears of the New York State LGBT community. As your watchdog in New York State government, we work to ensure that legally guaranteed rights are always implemented to their full potential.
Hate Crimes (2000)
The Hate Crimes Act enhanced the penalties for hate-motivated offenses, including those motivated by real or perceived sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, religion, ancestry, gender, age and disability. Unfortunately, hate crimes are on the rise: the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a 69% rise in hate groups nationwide since 2000. In New York State, the incidence of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation bias increased 15% between 2009 and 2010. Given these chilling statistics, the Hate Crimes Act remains extremely important for protecting the LGBT community and other vulnerable groups.
Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (2002)
The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) extends the protections specified in the New York State Human Rights Law to lesbian, gay and bisexual New Yorkers by banning discrimination based on sexual orientation.
SONDA provides lesbian, gay and bisexual New Yorkers access to the civil rights protections they are entitled to. Our community, however, still remains vulnerable to inequality. For SONDA to be effective, it requires proper enforcement. When blatant - and illegal - discrimination against members of our community occurs, the Pride Agenda will be there to ensure that SONDA is not ignored and that the civil rights it provides continue to be accessible.
The Pride Agenda started two programs to ensure that SONDA is being implemented in employment so that nobody is fired from their job because of their sexual orientation. Pride in My Workplace is a collaboration with corporations, small businesses, non-profits and business leaders with a mission to educate employers and employees about SONDA to ensure that workplaces throughout New York State are free of discrimination. Pride in Our Union similarly educates union leaders, staff and members statewide on SONDA to help ensure unions in all sectors of the labor movement in New York State are free of discrimination.
Dignity for All Students (2010)
The Dignity for All Students Act is a law that protects LGBT students from harassment in New York State’s public schools and established an anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policy. It is the first New York State law to expressly include protections based on “gender identity and expression.” The Pride Agenda served on a statewide taskforce to ensure that Dignity was implemented successfully and supported lawmakers extending the law to explicitly address online “cyberbullying.”
Marriage and Family Protection (2011)
Marriage equality has become a reality for same-sex couples in New York and our community is elated to not only be able to marry the people we love but also to receive the 1,324 rights and responsibilities that come with marriage in our state.
Notwithstanding our significant win at the state level, there were many injustices caused by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition to same-sex married couples. That’s why the Pride Agenda, as New York's leading statewide LGBT equality organization, filed an amicus brief in the successful U.S. vs. Windsor case before the United States Supreme Court. This brief, authored by the prestigious law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, provided the Court with real-life experiences of married same-sex couples who suffered substantial inequalities in their daily lives on account of DOMA. Furthermore, with laws in most other states prohibiting the recognition of our marriages, we know the fight for equality is far from over.
Help Us Look Out For You
Protecting our community’s rights is what these legislative victories aim to do. If you feel that you or someone you know has been denied any of these protections or if any of these laws have been broken, contact us at the Pride Agenda.