Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Signs Legislation Addressing The Needs of LGBT Seniors

Andrew Cuomo (D) Governor of the state of New York who assumed office on January 01, 2011 and previously the Attorney General of the state of New York signed into law critical legislation for the aging LGBTI community.

Recognizing the importance of understanding and assisting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) aging population, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Thomas K. Duane (D - Manhattan) and Assemblymember Micah Kellner (D - Manhattan) (S1303/A880) which will require the New York State Office of the Aging (NYSOFA) to assess the needs of traditionally underservered elderly populations – including those in LGBT communities. The new law will also provide technical assistance and grants-in-aid to organizations that provide services to LGBT seniors.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has made a career out of equal treatment across party lines:

As Attorney General, Cuomo was instrumental in the resignation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer (D) for misconduct. Then Attorney General Cuomo admonished the Spitzer administration for ordering the New York State Police to keep special records of then New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno's (R) whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City. At the direction of top officials of the Spitzer administration, the New York State Police created documents meant to cause political damage to then New York Senate Majority Leader Bruno (R). Governor Eliot Spitzer's (D) Chief of State has stated that they were responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Albany Times-Union in late June.

As Attorney General, Cuomo released a report to the New York Senate that cleared Bruno of any misuse of the state's air fleet, which had been alleged. The report criticized Spitzer's office for using State Police resources to gather information about Bruno's travel and releasing the information to the media.

In the wake of the revelations, Spitzer announced on March 12, 2008 that he would resign his post as Governor effective at noon of March 17, 2008, amid threats of his impeachment by the New York Senate.

"Governor Cuomo has once again shown his commitment to ensuring that all New Yorkers have equal rights and protections under the law," said Senator Duane. "This legislation is groundbreaking. For the first time, New York will recognize the unique needs of the ever growing segment of aging LGBT New Yorkers – and the services they may require in the years to come. Over the past decade, this State has gone from all but ignoring the LGBT community to enacting comprehensive lgbt hate crimes protections, providing a Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, protecting our students with strong anti-gay bullying protections in the Dignity For All Students Act, insuring our right to marry the ones we love with a Marriage Equality law, and now today taking major steps to assist elderly LGBT New Yorkers. I am proud at how far we have come in such a short amount of time."

"Despite being a rapidly growing segment of New York’s population, lgbt seniors do not receive the services they need," said Assembly Member Micah Kellner. "This community often lacks the support networks that are more commonly available to non-LGBT seniors and will sometimes be reluctant to access needed health and social services because of fear of discrimination. This bill will correct these inadequacies and ensure that current and future generations of LGBT seniors receive the care and respect that they deserve. By signing this bill, Governor Cuomo has once again illustrated his commitment to give all New Yorkers a level playing field."

Specifically, the new law requires the New York State Office for the Aging, in its annual report to the Governor and the Legislature, to include recommendations for expanding or replicating service programs already in place and applying them to traditionally underserved populations which include but are not limited to those defined by actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military status, sex, marital status, disability, familial status and language. The report must also articulate the specific, targeted needs of these traditionally underserved populations -- focusing on successful programs as well as addressing particular problems that need correction.

Further, the bill authorizes the Director of New York State Office for the Aging to make grants-in-aid for the purpose of providing training, outreach and education to entities providing services to LGBT senior populations.

Senator Duane added: "Like the Dignity for All Students Act, this law enumerates gender identity or expression in the list of protected categories enshrined into law. Such language is essential in granting equal rights and protections for the transgender community. But our work will not be done until we pass into the law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA). We must fight to insure its passage in 2012."

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