State Senator Liz Krueger and others trying to push Equality Act onto Senate floor
Last week, Senator Liz Krueger and other legislators, including City Councilmembers Jessica Lappin and Gale Brewer, forming a Women's Equality Coalition, held a press conference to call attention to Governor Cuomo's 10-point Women's Equality Act. New York gender equality legislation has been in the works for years, and would give women equal pay, protection in cases of sexual and domestic violence, and reproductive health rights. Senator Liz Krueger said that despite opposition from Republicans, the act should hit the New York Senate floor this year.
"It is past time for New York State, the great modern progressive state of this nation, to have up to date laws that protect women in their home and in the workplace," said Krueger. "We have a conservative Republican minority controlling the State Senate, and they do not want to pass abortion rights. But most people will vote for this."
The act is currently opposed by Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos, and other Republicans, because it would put New York State law in line with federal law, affirming the the reproductive and abortion rights put in place by Roe V. Wade. According to Senator Krueger, Leader Skelos believes that the bill will not pass. But Democratic leaders want the Women's Rights Act to have a fair chance at debate on the floor.
According to a Siena Research poll, 80 percent of New Yorkers support New York's abortion law, and 80 percent support equal pay for both sexes. Councilmember Jessica Lappin, co-chair of the women's caucus, started a petition supporting the plan that over 300 of her constituents signed.
"This is a fantastic, powerful group of women and men saying we demand a vote," said Lappin. "Well-behaved women don't always make history, and we aren't going to be well-behaved today. We demand action now."
Some of the numbers behind the push for equality are startling. According to the legislators, women in New York earn 84 percent of what men earn salary-wise. One in four women will experience intimate partner violence in her lifetime. And throughout her life, a woman is more likely to experience gender inequality, and twice as likely as a man to live out her life in poverty.
In spite of these sobering statistics, dozens of legislators, both male and female, came out to support the bill, citing frustration that women are still fighting for their rights. Councilmember Gale Brewer spoke about single-parent families, particularly single mothers with children, who have problems securing an apartment.
"There are so many parents who have been discriminated against because of being single parents, especially woman. Owners will not rent to them. It's the same thing with the issue of caregivers," said Brewer. "This 10-point proposal puts all of these points together into one bill of equality."
The Women's Equality Act is expected to reach the Senate floor this legislative season.
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