Homosexual Rights Bill Passed in New York

Dec 20, 2002 10:24 AM EST

New York passed civil rights laws for homosexuals when Gov. George E Pataki signed a bill meant to protect homosexuals being discriminated in housing, employment, credit, and public accommodations. New York became the thirteenth state to do so.

The bill adds only the words “sexual orientation” to existing anti-discrimination laws, yet by doing so New York had matched its standards with states such as Vermont, which allowed same-sex civil unions, and Hawaii, which has a strong domestic partnership law.

The bill was signed by the governor after the state senate voted 34-26 in favor of it. A total of 13 out of 36 Republicans and 21 out of 24 Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

The senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno had kept such issue from floor vote for 8 years, yet finally the legislation was pushed through due to the strong influence of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the largest gay rights group in New York.

"Maybe I have become more enlightened," Bruno said just before the vote. "But over the years I have felt that the present nondiscrimination laws in this state were more than adequate."

The Empire State Pride Agenda had garnered Republican support by endorsing Pataki

However, an amendment was voted down that would include “gender identity and expression” into the bill. Some lawyers believe that this amendment will be interpreted to be about transgender individuals.

By Tony C.