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Gay & Lesbian Youth Lead WNYers To Lobby Day In State Capitol

Albany, N.Y>— Today, a group of over 40 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) youth and adults from Buffalo and Western New York organized by Gay and Lesbian Youth Services of WNY joined more than 700 lgbt New Yorkers and their allies that have travelled to Albany for the Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual lobby day, LGBT Equality & Justice Day. New Yorkers from all walks of life called on the legislature to finally pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), the statewide transgender civil rights bill; pushed elected officials to support the Child-Parent Security Act, which would provide more options for creating and protecting families in New York State; and urged the government to fund programs for runaway and homeless youth and other vital organizations that provide health services to the LGBT community.

The Assembly is today expected to pass GENDA for the 6th time, but the bill remains stalled in the State Senate and has never been brought to the floor for a vote, despite overwhelming popular support throughout New York State.

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Nathan M. Schaefer welcomed the assembled activists saying, "We can accomplish so much together. We’ve proven it over and over again, with victories on hate crimes, bullying, and, most recently, marriage equality across the Empire State. And yet, we have work to do. In many places across New York, people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and experience discrimination that is not only unjust but life threatening."

Equality & Justice Day kicked off with a morning welcome from an array of elected officials at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, including Assemblymember Harry Bronson, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Amy Paulin, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Matt Titone.

A 1 p.m. rally in the West Capitol Park featured Terri Cook, parent and advocate for transgender youth; Lee Cutler, New York State United Teachers; Steven Krokoff, Chief of Police, Albany Police Department; Jeff Levin, MSW, Program Coordinator in Family Services at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center; Kemar Mcintosh, Hetrick Martin Institute, youth advocate; and Janet Mock, writer, speaker and advocate for transgender rights.

"E&J Day" gives LGBT New Yorkers and their allies a chance to tell their stories directly to legislators and advocate for fair and equal treatment under the law. Pro-LGBT New Yorkers took the opportunity to thank supportive assemblymembers for continuing to pass GENDA and keep the pressure on their senators.

Just last week, the Pride Agenda kicked off an aggressive quarter-million dollar paid advocacy campaign including print, radio and digital advertising – all aimed at educating New Yorkers and calling them to action in support of GENDA. The measure already enjoys popular support across the state, with polling showing 78% of New Yorkers approve of it.

Currently 16 states, including Iowa, Colorado and Nevada, are ahead of New York in passing similar legislation. Countless municipalities and counties, including towns and cities in Kentucky, Idaho and Missouri, protect their residents on the basis of gender identity and expression. In New York, a patchwork of protections is on the books, since Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, New York City, Rochester and Syracuse have GENDA-type laws as do Westchester, Suffolk and Tompkins Counties. However, this lack of consistency means that, for example, a transgender person is protected at home in Suffolk County but has no basic rights across the border in Nassau County where he or she works.

More information is available online at www.prideagenda.org/ejday. The events of the day are recapped at www.facebook.com/prideagenda and www.twitter.com/prideagenda. The hash tag is #ejday. —Staff

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