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Pride Agenda, Vocal New YorkHail CuomoDebut
In his January 5 inaugural Stateof the State speech at the Capi-tol in Albany, Governor AndrewCuomo renewed his commitmentto push for equal marriage rights,saying, “We believe in justice forall, then let’s pass marriage equal-ity this year once and for all.”The new governor’s mention ofmarriage equality brought praisefrom the Empire State Pride Agen-da, the statewide gay lobby group.“The Pride Agenda is very pleasedthat Governor Cuomo in his Stateof the State address specificallyincluded LGBT New Yorkers in hisvision of a great Empire State,”said Ross Levi, ESPA’s executivedirector. “He has strongly andrepeatedly shown his support forLGBT fairness and equality, andthe affirmation today of his com-mitment to see marriage for lovingsame-sex couples become law inNew York State is another indica-tion of that support.”At ESPA’s annual Manhattanfall dinner this past October 14,candidate Cuomo said, “I wantto be the governor who signs thelaw that makes marriage equalitya reality in the State of New York,and we are going to get that donetogether.”Marriage equality has beenapproved by the heavily Demo-cratic Assembly three times since2007, but was rejected by the Sen-ate in a 38-24 vote in December2009. Since then, the number ofpublic supporters of equal marriagerights in the Senate has increasedto 26, but Republicans, who voted“no” 30-0 in 2009, have recapturedthe Senate.In an October 12 appearancebefore the Log Cabin Republicansin Manhattan, however, LongIsland Republican Dean Skelos,the new majority leader, voiceda willingness to have the Senateconsider the marriage equalitybill again. “I think our conferencewould say, ‘Put it up, let it up,’” hetold the group. As Cuomo strugglesto get control of a state budget cur-rently facing large deficits, he iswidely expected to work closelywith the Senate Republican major-ity to challenge the more liberalDemocratic Assembly.ESPA also praised Cuomo forrenewing the executive orderissued by former Governor DavidPaterson last year prohibiting dis-crimination in state employmenton the basis of gender identity andexpression. Like marriage equality,a transgender civil rights bill hasbeen stalled in the Senate becauseof strong Republican opposition.The Pride Agenda noted thegovernor’s appointment of Alphon-so David to the post of deputy sec-retary for civil rights. A former staffattorney at Lambda Legal, Davidalso served Cuomo during his ten-ure as attorney general in a civilrights post.On January 17, the Cuomoadministration announced theappointment of Erik Bottcher as aspecial assistant for communityaffairs. Bottcher previously workedas City Council Speaker ChristineQuinn’s LGBT and HIV/ AIDS liai-son. The release announcing theappointment quotes Cuomo sayingthat, as a Council staffer, Bottcher,who worked on LGBT issues in thegovernor’s fall campaign, “wasinstrumental in advancing NewYork City’s progressive agenda. Hisexperience in public service will beessential to my administration aswe move forward.”Noting the contribution Bot-tcher made to the City Council’sadvocacy of a state legislativeproposal to cap the rents paid bymore than 10,000 New Yorkersliving with AIDS and on publicassistance at 30 percent of theirincome, the AIDS housing groupVocal New York praised him for his“knowledge and commitment” onthe issue of homelessness in thatpopulation. Paterson vetoed the30 percent cap measure, but advo-cates are hopeful of advancing itunder Cuomo.
Reversals inCongress by theNumbers
According to a study releasedJanuary 5 by the Human RightsCampaign, the leading LGBT lobbyin Washington, the number of anti-LGBT members of Congress hasincreased by 58, going from 172to 225 in the House and 35 to 40 inthe Senate. Meanwhile, the tallyof pro-gay members has declinedby 32 — from 196 to 167 in theHouse and 42 to 40 in the Senate.HRC noted a decline of 25 total inthe number of House and Senatemembers with a mixed record onLGBT issues.A Huffington Post story pub-lished the same day quotes AllisonHerwitt, HRC’s legislative director,saying the group will be lookingto make incremental progresson LGBT issues by incorporatingadvances like federal anti-bullyingprotections and same-sex coupletax equity into broader pieces oflegislation.“I think that going into the112th Congress, generally, we’ll belooking at — what are the biggerbills that will be moving that wecan put pieces of pro-equality —either amendments or provisions— into those larger moving bills?,”she said. On the bullying issue, shesaid the logical fit would be theElementary and Secondary Educa-tion Act reauthorization.The clear conclusion from theHRC report is that efforts to pass