Pride season is upon us, and there's much to be proud of! While the fight for equal rights is nowhere near over, we've seen tremendous progress in 2014 and the year isn't over yet. Check out the top 10 reasons we, at the Pride Agenda, believe LGBT New Yorkers should be proud this Pride.
10. We have more openly LGBT elected officials than ever before! With six New York City Council Members, four New York State Assembly Members, one New York State Senator and one Congressman who are openly LGBT, we have more representation of our community in government than ever before.
9. It's the three-year anniversary of marriage equality in the Big Apple and the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, which cited New York in its decision as justification for the favorable outcome. And of course, the plaintiff, Edie Windsor, is a proud and loud New Yorker who will go down in the history books for standing up to the United States and winning.
8. Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio came together in a show of support for those most vulnerable and passed a rent cap for New Yorkers living below the poverty level with HIV/AIDS. Now anyone who is lower income with HIV will not have to pay more than 30 percent of their income on rent, and as a society, we'll be able to keep more people in their homes, where they belong.
7. GENDA passed in the Assembly for the seventh time. The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that will extend protections to transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers, has passed with bipartisan support in the New York State Assembly but has failed to be brought to the floor for a vote in the Senate. We're pleased to see the Assembly lead the way and again support this important bill and hope the Senate will do the right thing and represent their constituents and all New Yorkers by making it illegal to discriminate against transgender New Yorkers
6. A bill to protect LGBT youth from conversion efforts made swift progress in the state legislature. Introduced just months ago and with little educational efforts prior, the bill -- which would make it illegal for licensed therapists to practice so-called reparative or conversion therapy and try to change a young LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity -- gained momentum rapidly. Gaining attention publicly in the media throughout the state and the nation, our efforts here in New York were supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle. We hope to see it become law soon.
5. Rochester became the third city in the nation to offer its transgender city employees transition-related healthcare. Announced by Mayor Warren and City Councilmember-at-Large Matt Haag at the Pride Agenda's Spring Dinner in May, this announcement is huge for Rochester, New York and the nation. Following the news of the city's inclusive healthcare, local radio hosts Kimberly and Beck of "The Breakfast Buzz" aired an incredibly transphobic segment. The segment itself was not in the least something to celebrate, but the response from the community and the radio station was. Less than one day after the incident, the radio station's social media channels were covered in pro-LGBT comments and the parent company Entercom issued a formal apology. This marks a pivotal time in equality for transgender New Yorkers and shows the power of the LGBT and allied community to come together to move big business to right a wrong.
4. Visibility around the need for family protections soared in the Empire State. A New York Times piece earlier this year profiled Senator Hoylman and his family (his daughter Sylvia was conceived with the help of a gestational carrier, or surrogate), and brought increased awareness to the fact that it's illegal to engage with a surrogate in New York State and the need for the Child-Parent Security Act, a bill presently before the State Legislature.
3. New York State removes the surgical requirement for transgender New Yorkers to change the gender markers on their birth certificates. Joining the ranks of other agencies like the Social Security Administration and the Department of Motor Vehicles, this makes it easier for trans New Yorkers to match their documents up with their identity and access healthcare, college entry, among other resources and minimize the potential for discrimination and invasive questioning.
2. Transgender visibility reached new heights when New Yorker Laverne Cox graced the cover of Time magazine. Enough said. You go girl!
1. The number one reason we should be proud LGBT New Yorkers this year is the same reason we should be proud LGBT New Yorkers every year. We are beautiful. We are bold. We are diverse. We are the windows to the rest of the country and the world. When we make noise, we are heard. When we demand change, we get it (at least eventually). We are proud New Yorkers and have every right to be!