Key Component of the Governor’s 2020 Women’s Agenda Would Establish Sex, Ethnicity, National Origin, Age, Disability, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity as Protected Classes in State Constitution
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the 20th proposal of his 2020 State of the State agenda — passing the first-in-the-nation inclusive Equal Rights Amendment to establish sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.
“In New York, we believe in full equality for every person—period,” Governor Cuomo said. “But our federal and state constitutions don’t protect against discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, gender identity and other characteristics that make us so unique and our diversity so great. That ends this year. We will pass an expanded, nation-leading Equal Rights Amendment so that no matter what happens at the federal level, all New Yorkers will be afforded the complete and unequivocal protections they deserve.”
The federal Equal Rights Amendment has not yet been ratified, and the New York State Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment only prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed, or religion. While important, this amendment – which was adopted in 1938 – reflects an outdated conception of equality and must be updated to guarantee much broader anti-discrimination protections for all New Yorkers. As the Trump administration continues its efforts to roll back many hard-fought civil rights at the federal level, it is more important than ever for New York to guarantee these rights in our State constitution.
Governor Cuomo will seek to amend the New York State Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment so that New York sets the national standard for how states protect equal rights. The Governor will seek to add sex as a protected class to Section 11 of Article I, ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their gender, are fully protected by the State constitution. Additionally, he will push for the addition of other categories, including ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity so that those critically important protections are also enshrined into the State constitution. By advancing an effective and inclusive Equal Rights Amendment, the Governor’s proposal sets New York State on course to continue its role as a beacon for equality and inclusion for all.
During his time in office, Governor Cuomo has enacted landmark legislation closing the gender pay gap, enhancing protections against workplace sexual harassment, and ensuring that federal policies will not interrupt access to contraceptive coverage in New York State.
New York State has been a beacon for gender equality in the United States. New York was the site of the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, and was one of the first states to vote in favor of ratifying the federal Equal Rights Amendment after its passage by the U.S. Congress in 1972.