POLITICO NY – As Pride Agenda folds, a gay lawmaker details its unfinished work

As Pride Agenda folds, a gay lawmaker details its unfinished work

ALBANY — As a leading LGBT rights organization folds up its tent, a top gay legislator says there’s plenty of work left to do for LGBT New Yorkers.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman on Wednesday will issue a report examining LGBT bills that have been stalled in the state’s upper chamber for years. According to the report, the state Senate hasn’t held floor votes on at least a half-dozen measures Hoylman carries — including bills that would have state agencies collect demographic data on sexual orientation and ban “conversion therapy” programs — as well as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would prohibit discrimination based on gender expression.

“The past four legislative sessions have revealed nothing short of a blacklist of the LGBT community in the New York State Senate. Since marriage equality passed in 2011, the Senate has chosen to ignore the needs of LGBT New Yorkers even as they continue to suffer disproportionately from discrimination, poverty, violence and lack of access to health care,” said Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat who is the only openly gay senator. “This report underscores the importance of a statewide organization that advocates for the numerous and unfulfilled needs of LGBT New Yorkers. The legislative priorities of the LGBT community will remain unheeded unless a targeted effort is organized to hold senators accountable for their inaction.”

Of late, that organization had been Empire State Pride Agenda, which was founded in 1990 and was instrumental in lobbying for same-sex marriage in 2011 and the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in 2002. On Saturday, the organization announced it would “conclude major operations” next year after Cuomo announced he would enact GENDA — the group’s “top remaining priority” — by issuing regulations.

The organization will continue with a PAC. Libby Post, a public relations executive who was a founding co-chair of the Pride Agenda, said a lobbying presence is also needed.

“There’s shockwaves going through New York’s LGBT community, and there’s a certain sense of disbelief that after 25 years, the idea that we can parcel out tasks to other organizations and keep a PAC going without boots on the ground in the halls of the Capitol to hold people accountable,” she said. “People don’t understand it and I don’t understand it.”

Hoylman said Republicans who control the state Senate and who brought the same-sex marriage bill to the floor in 2011, are effectively ignoring 570,000 LGBT New Yorkers, even as the Democrat-dominated Assembly has passed bills multiple times.

A spokesman for Senate Republicans declined to comment.

Here is the report: http://politi.co/1O3UTUX