Cuomo Espa Letter | Same Sex Marriage | Discrimination

October 3, 2010 Ross D.

Levi Executive Director Empire State Pride Agenda One Commerce Plaza 99 Washington Avenue, Suite 805 Albany, NY 12260 Dear Mr. Levi: I write to commend the Empire State Pride Agenda for being a visionary civil rights leader, and forging a path for equality for all New Yorkers, and I pledge my continued commitment to work with you in achieving equality for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens. As you know all too well, discrimination still exists in society and we must fight it in every form. That's one of the central reasons why I'm running for Governor of New York. As Attorney General, my office has confronted injustice head on in a variety of ways. We successfully led the effort to insure validly executed out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples are recognized in New York. We have investigated and prosecuted gender identity discrimination. And we have shut down discriminatory adoption services. For example, we: • Successfully led the fight to protect the legal recognition of valid marriages between samesex couples. My office defended the recognition of valid out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples in a series of legal challenges that were filed against public officials for recognizing those marriages. The cases were ultimately argued before the highest court in New York, the Court of Appeals, which affirmed that out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized in the State. • Investigated and prosecuted gender identity discrimination. We reached an agreement with a national clothing retailer that operates approximately 1,000 stores across the United States, requiring the company to take important steps to ensure that employees and job applicants are not treated differently because of their gender expression or identity. The agreement requires the adoption and implementation of anti-discrimination policies and procedures in their New York stores to ensure that all job applicants and employees are provided with equal opportunities regardless of gender identity and expression, train staff on the prohibition against gender identity and expression discrimination, retain an independent auditor to monitor future compliance with the agreement; and pay $70,000 to New York State to resolve the investigation. • Shut down discriminatory adoption services in New York. My office successfully banned Adoption Media L.L.C. and Adoption Profiles, L.L.C, both nationwide adoption service providers, from doing business in New York State as a result of an investigation into the companies' discriminatory policies, procedures and practices. The companies, which tout themselves as servicing 1.5 million people per month, intentionally excluded individuals from adopting children based on marital status and sexual orientation. As a result of our action, the companies can no longer conduct business in the State. • Successfully secured health insurance coverage for same-sex and common law spouses and their dependents. My office, along with local advocates, successfully compelled Otsego County to reverse its prior decision to exclude same-sex couples and common law spouses and their dependents from its health care plan. The County initially contended that the exclusion of

same-sex and common law spouses was legal because the plan is self-funded. After commencement of the my office's investigation, the County subsequently reversed its decision and issued resolutions revising its health care plan to provide coverage to all same-sex and common law spouses and their dependents. We have made important strides, but there is still more to do. New York State has historically served as a beacon for hope, justice, and equality, and, as Governor, I will be committed to continuing that tradition. First, I pledge to you that I will remain at your side every step of the way until that day when we achieve full marriage equality. It's sad and surprising that New York has been surpassed by many other countries which have legalized marriages for same-sex couples including Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and Argentina; as well as by many states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire. Marriage equality is a question of principle and the State should not discriminate against same-sex couples who wish to get married. I will confront such discrimination and make sure couples, regardless of sexual orientation, have equal marriage rights under the law. Second, we must end discrimination against transgender people. And we need to make sure our schools have policies in place that prevent bullying due to bias. To that end, we must pass Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). Further, we must address discriminatory practices against transgender people in health care. Third, we must take all affirmative steps to effectively address hate crime and violence against New Yorkers based on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability, or sexual orientation. New York has a hate crimes statute, but more must be done to ensure that all New Yorkers are informed about and protected from hate crimes and violence. Fourth, we must continue to protect the constitutional privacy and reproductive rights of all New Yorkers, including LGBT people. I will continue to take steps to ensure that those rights are protected. Finally, we must continue to expand opportunities for all New Yorkers in government. As Attorney General, I'm proud to have assembled one of the most diverse teams and, as Governor, I will continue that practice. I am committed to making appointments that reflect the diversity of New York State, including the LGBT community. This coming November we have one of the most important elections in my lifetime. Not only because of the significant economic challenges facing our State and citizens, and the corruption that is gripping our state government currently, but also because who we elect in November will determine the course of civil rights in this State for a generation. We must use these elections to hold our officials accountable and elect people who are committed to equality. Together, let's work toward a productive November, electing a clear mandate for true equality. That is why I hope to have your support in order to make New York State is the progressive capitol of the nation once again. I look forward to our continued relationship. Best wishes, Andrew M. Cuomo  

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