Coalition Calls on the New York State Senate to Vote on WEA


June 10, 2014
Contact: Lauren Alexander, lalexander@nyclu.org212-607-3372

Women’s Equality Coalition Calls on the New York State Senate to Vote on the Women’s Equality Act

Leaders and advocates from the Women’s Equality Coalition stand with legislators from both the State Assembly and State Senate today to urge the passage of the full Women’s Equality Act (WEA), a bill supported by the vast majority of New Yorkers. The WEA provides common sense updates to existing New York law that will ensure the state’s 10 million mothers, sisters, daughters and wives are not held back by discrimination. This critical legislation will remove barriers to economic security, preserves access to reproductive health care and helps survivors of domestic violence.

Comprised of over 850 businesses and organizations across the state, the coalition has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about New York’s outdated laws that impede the fair and equitable treatment of women. For the past two years, New Yorkers statewide have expressed their support for the WEA at various rallies and education events and on social media. As part of the coalition’s public awareness campaign, advocates are in Albany today to drop off postcard signatures from their communities at legislators’ offices.

“The Senate majority coalition needs to stop playing politics with New York’s women and families and start doing what voters elected them to do — vote on legislation that will improve people’s lives,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “New York women give 100 percent every day to our families, our jobs and our communities. We can’t settle for less in return. It’s time for elected officials to prove that they are on our side.”

“The American Association of University Women of New York State applauds the New York State Assembly for recognizing the economic and moral imperatives of ensuring that women have equal protections under the law and passing the Women’s Equality Act in a bipartisan manner,” said AAUW-NYS State President Mary Lou Davis. “We urge the State Senate to support women and families and reflect the priorities of almost 90 percent of New York voters by bringing the Women’s Equality Act up for a vote in the Senate.”

“For the second year, our senators have the opportunity to support powerful legislation that would help protect the health and safety of New York women and build their economic security,” said New York City Equal Pay Coalition Director Beverly Cooper Neufeld. “Almost nine out of ten voters support stronger equal pay laws which the Women’s Equality Act would provide by protecting workers from retaliation for sharing salary information, closing loopholes in current law and discouraging wage discrimination. There is still time to listen to New Yorkers who are clamoring for needed change and deserved equality.”

“As one of the state’s leading health care providers for thousands of women, men and teens, Planned Parenthood knows that women’s health, rights and economic well-being are inherently linked,” said Joan Malin, Chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York (PPANY). “Here in New York, we have a historic opportunity to provide national leadership by passing the Women’s Equality Act, which will secure women’s rights and affirm reproductive health care as basic and essential care. Right now New York’s outdated laws mean that women in our state could potentially lose many of their current reproductive rights and freedoms. PPANY strongly urges the Senate to follow Governor Cuomo and the Assembly’s lead and pass this important piece of legislation, securing women’s rights and economic security across New York State.”

“It is beyond frustrating and blatantly unfair that another legislative session will come to an end without the Senate even moving the Women’s Equality Act to the floor for a vote,” said Christine Sadowski, Chair of YWCAs of New York State. “Women have played a large role in electing our senators to represent us by voting on issues of importance. Women around the state want a vote on WEA, and we want it to pass. Please listen to your constituents statewide – we want action.”

“It is deeply disturbing that in New York State, the home of the Seneca Falls Convention and the birthplace of the women’s movement in America, we are still fighting for women’s basic human rights. The Republican/IDC Coalition should join with their Democratic colleagues in the Senate to ensure New York State’s women have their health and hard-earned rights protected,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “The common sense initiatives in the Women’s Equality Act must be brought before the Senate and passed into law immediately.”

“Over the last two legislative sessions, NYSCADV has stood in support of all the measures that Governor Cuomo highlighted in his 2013 State of the State speech that support women’s equality,” said Connie Neal, Executive Director, New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “The Women’s Equality Act is necessary to break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination because ending gender disparity is a critical part of ultimately preventing domestic violence. We applaud the Governor and the Assembly for recognizing that larger steps need to be taken to achieve equity and hope the Senate will vote on the omnibus bill as well.”

“Women are the majority in New York State,” said Tracey Brooks, CEO of Family Planning Advocates of New York State. “They are not a special interest. The WEA is simple, common sense legislation that ensures a women’s ability to live, work and raise their families in our state. Refusing to allow the WEA to the Senate floor, or mischaracterizing the legislation, ignores the reality of women’s lives and rejects the responsibilities inherent in a New York State Senate seat.”

“Women’s equality is not an issue that should be approached piecemeal, nor is it something for which we can wait. The women of New York deserve full equality, and they deserve it now,” said Senator Mike Gianaris. “I join the Women’s Equality Coalition and my fellow Senate Democrats in calling on the majority coalition to bring the entire Women’s Equality Act to a vote this session.”

“Every piece of this critical legislation deserves a vote, but I want to be crystal clear about the reproductive health portion: it’s just as essential as the other nine points, and it addresses a pressing problem,” said Senator Liz Krueger. “Right now, in New York, a woman could need to end her pregnancy for medical reasons, and our failure to modernize our laws could force her to go out of state for the care she needs — even when waiting or traveling could pose a risk to her life. That’s unacceptable, and we have to fix it.”

The WEA addresses multiple barriers to equality including: improving access to housing and orders of protection for victims of domestic violence; implementing measures to combat sex trafficking; tackling sexual harassment and discrimination; making sure that pregnant women are able to stay healthy on-the-job; and securing women’s access to reproductive healthcare. The Women’s Equality Coalition is committed to enacting the full Women’s Equality Act to ensure New York’s 10 million women have the legal protection and support they deserve.

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