Members of the New York State Assembly passed a bipartisan bill to protect youths from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. Much of the unity in the assembly is thanks to Assembly Sponsor Deborah J. Glick and Speaker Carl Heastie who moved swiftly to pass the bill through the chamber. Because of this bill’s bipartisan support and a recent statement from President Obama denouncing the practice, there is hope that the state senate will pick up the bill, and it will ultimately reach Governor Cuomo’s desk.
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and other New York City officials sent a strongly worded letter to the sponsors of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia writing that if they continue their sponsorships they will put their companies in jeopardy by facing “reputational risk.” So why should companies listen to DiNapoli, the city comptroller serves as the sole trustee to a $161 billion public pension fund. In the past he has used his power to persuade companies to de-invest in situations that threaten human rights. According to Times Union: “DiNapoli has in the past used the state Common Retirement Fund’s leverage to press for changes in corporate policy—ranging from divestment from companies that do business with dictatorships to pressing Chevron to do right by plaintiffs in a massive environmental lawsuit in Ecuador. In each case, the Comptroller has argued that doing so is about protecting shareholder value, not promoting a progressive agenda.”
In the letter addressed to AtoS, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, Omega (Swatch), McDonalds, Panasonic, Proctor & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa, DiNapoli, NYC Comptroller John Liu, and a coalition of investors “with at total of $327 billion of assets under management” made three major points in their letter:
- Ensure their nondiscrimination policies are strong, inclusive and enforced globally, especially in regard to employees stationed or on location in Russia;
- Call on the leaders of the Russian Federation to rescind the laws that deprive members of Russia’s LGBT community of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, and declare their commitment to equality irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity; and
- Call on the International Olympic Committee to obtain firm and express commitments from the Russian government that ensure the safety and human rights of all athletes and attendees of the Winter Games and visitors to the Games’ venues.
The New York State budget agreement reached today includes a $215K increase in the amount of funding for RHY (Runaway and Homeless Youth). While an increase, it pales in comparison to the $2.35 Million cut from RHY in last year’s budget. In New York City there are only 250 youth shelter beds supported by RHY funding, while over 3,800 youths are homeless, 40% of whom are LGBT. It is unlikely that enough of this increase will reach NYC to allow the number of shelter beds to increase.
“I am deeply distressed by the lack of political will from our State leaders demonstrated in this budget to provide our most vulnerable youths with access to shelter, a necessity for human survival.” says Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center. ” The LGBT community in New York will not truly achieve equality until we share equally in our State’s resources. Our community certainly contributes to our State’s economy, even more so since the passage of marriage equality, and it is disturbing to receive the message that our neediest children can be left to fend for themselves in the streets without beds.”
More after the jump…
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who lead the fight for marriage equality in New York, is now set to further advance the rights of gay and lesbian couples with new legislation that will ban discrimination against gay and lesbian parents. The legislation, called Every Child Deserves a Family Act, would be the first of its kind introduced into the United States Senate. It would restrict federal funds for states if a state doesn’t have non-discrimination laws in adoption.
“New York is a leader on ensuring that any family can adopt children and sets a great example for the rest of the country,” Gillibrand said. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York State has increased its foster parent pool by 128,000 prospective parents. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.” [WashingtonBlade]
Could the child of former President Bill Clinton and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton be considering a run for Congress? Many are reporting that Chelsea has been approached by “the right people” from the New York Democratic Party this year and that the recently married 31-year-old is “actively considering” a run for Congress. Chelsea was involved in her mother’s campaign for President and won over key demographics with her winning personality and knowledge of the issues.
We think today would be a great time for her to announce her run, especially since it’s her mom’s birthday! [TR]
Hundreds of advocates crossed party lines yesterday when they showed that they have New York State Senator Mark Grisanti‘s back. The GOP senator was one of only four New York State Republicans that voted in favor of the state’s history-making Marriage Equality Act, which made the Empire State the largest state in the Union to legalize same-sex marriage. Now that Grisanti’s seat in upstate New York is threatened by the upcoming election, over 250 advocates have crossed parties lines to ensure that he gets the nomination for the Conservative Party. Grisanti has been targeted by the Conservative Party as well as the National Organization for Marriage because of his vote.
Check out news report after the jump… Read more…
A New York clerk for the town of Ledyard, who has refused to marry same-sex couples based on her beliefs, may be headed to court over it. Rose Marie Belforti, a 57-year-old town clerk of ten years, was quoted saying in the NY Times, “I’m not supposed to have to leave my beliefs at the door at my government job.” Ms. Belforti is refusing to marry not just gay and lesbian couples, but all couples since same-sex marriage became legal on July 24. Ms. Belforti firmly believes that God does not want her to condone same-sex marriage. Even though Belforti has now appointed a deputy to perform marriages, Belforti had already denied a lesbian couple from applying for a marriage license in August of 2011—clearly after the time when same-sex marriage was legalized.
The lesbian couple, Deidre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael, are considering taking legal action and are represented by the Washington-based liberal advocacy group People for the American Way who are looking to put pressure on Belforti to marry gay and lesbian couples or simply resign. [pinknews] [IrishTimes]
According to data obtained by the NY Post, roughly 1,400 same-sex couples have tied the knot in New York State—that means one in four newlyweds in the state is gay. With gender being removed from New York State’s marriage licenses, it makes it difficult to track the exact number of same-sex couples. However, the newspaper found a 33% spike in marriages this year as compared to last year during the same time period, which the paper attributes to the change in marriage law. With August being the most popular time of the year to get hitched, the city has had to limit its employees’ vacation time. “Last week, we averaged 335 license applications a day, busier than ever,” McSweeney said. [NYPost]
Looking to get married in New York? Don’t miss our special New York Gay Marriage and Honeymoon Section in the September issue of Passport magazine.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is putting pressure on airlines to get rid of their unfair baggage-fee policies. In particular, when an airline loses a passenger’s luggage or doesn’t get the bag to the destination on time, the airline doesn’t immediately give the person back their baggage fee (the nominal fees we’re paying to make sure our bag actually gets there). Schumer is set to introduce legislation to change this if the airlines refuse to make this change on their own.
“If the airlines are going to rake in record revenues from baggage fees year after year, they should earn it by delivering your bags to the right destination on time,” Schumer said. “If they lose or mishandle the bags you paid extra for, it’s not right for them to simply say they’re sorry and still stick you with the bill.”
Schumer echoes the sentiments of milions of travelers who helped the airlines rack in $3.4 billion from baggage fees last year, a number that is up from just $464 million in 2007.
“Since the vast majority of bags are lost for a few days or a few weeks, most passengers don’t see any refund at all,” Schumer said. “The bottom line is unless airlines do the job that they’re paid to do and make sure that the bags are delivered in a timely fashion, passengers shouldn’t have to pay a dime.” [NYDN]
Just hours after New York State legalized same-sex marriage, San Antonio-based coffee company, Brown Coffee Company, sent out an offensive Tweet that has prompted at least one NYC shop to dump the brand. Brown Coffee Company wrote, “No human law can ever legitimize what natural law precludes,” and the coffee distributer quickly learned the consequences of their bigotry when coffee shop RBC NYC Coffee immediately dropped Brown Coffee Company and Tweeted, “Although we won’t tell you what RBC stands for, we’ll let you know it doesn’t stand for intolerance and bigotry, therefore we will not be doing business with The Brown Coffee Co. anymore.”