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Cuomo expands transgender protections in New York

"It is intolerable to allow discrimination of transgender individuals and they are one of the most abused, harassed groups in society today," said Cuomo.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before the Pride Parade on June 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before the Pride Parade on June 28, 2015 in New York City.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced an executive action designed to protect transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment, education, credit, and public accommodations, taking a decisive step on an issue that had long divided the State Legislature.

"It is intolerable to allow discrimination of transgender individuals and they are one of the most abused, harassed groups in society today," said Cuomo, a Democrat, at a dinner held by the LGBT rights group, Empire State Pride Agenda. "Well, it is New York State's role, New York State's responsibility, and New York State's legacy to lead the way. And that's exactly what we are going to do tonight, my friends."

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The executive action will expand existing protections already established under the New York State Human Rights Law, which bars discrimination on the basis of a number of characteristics -- including age, race, sex, and sexual orientation -- but not gender identity.

For years, legislation that would have protected transgender people from discrimination floundered in Albany, where Democrats control the State Assembly, and Republicans control the State Senate. 

Cuomo is the first governor in the nation to establish statewide protections for transgender people through executive action. At the dinner, he was honored with the Empire State Pride Agenda's Silver Torch award.

Twenty states, plus the District of Columbia, now ban employment and housing discrimination on the basis of gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Eighteen states, plus D.C., ban such discrimination in public accommodations.