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New York State Capitol- Albany, NY

New York Senate Republicans & IDC Kill Women’s Equality Act

By Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker

Thanks (I mean that sarcastically) to New York State Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) the Women’s Equality Act effectively died today.

The Women’s Equality Act was a package of provisions put together through a joint effort between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Women’s Equality Coalition which sought to:

  • Achieve Pay Equity
  • Stop Sexual Harassment in All Workplaces
  • Allow for the Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees in Employment and Credit and Lending Case
  • Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws
  • End Family Status Discrimination
  • Stop Source-of-Income Discrimination
  • Stop Housing Discrimination for Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Stop Pregnancy Discrimination Once and For All
  • Protect Victims of Domestic Violence by Strengthening Order-of-Protection Law
  • Protect a Woman’s Freedom of Choice


The Assembly passed the act on Thursday.  The New York State Senate decided to vote of the acts individual bills, which was the IDC’s doing.  The abortion amendment, which would have brought New York State abortion law into congruence with Federal abortion law, was treated as a hostile amendment.  It was then ruled non-germane by 32 Senators thus blocking a vote.  According to Jon Campbell at Democrat and Chronicle blog:

The vote was largely along party lines, save two Democrats who voted against the amendment: Sens. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, a pro-life minister, and Simcha Felder of Queens, who sits with the Republicans. (Source)

Because the Assembly and Senate have not passed matching bills we will have to see if the Assembly decides to vote on the nine bills without the abortion amendment.

Assembly Speaker Shelden Silver said after the Senate vote:

the Assembly won’t consider the nine bills, which address discrimination and abuse without the abortion measure.” He went on to say he was

In consultation with the women members of the Legislature who are driving the train on this … we will have a dialogue with the governor on how to proceed.  (Source

If the Assembly decides to vote on the act piecemeal they will have to call a special session as today was the last regular voting session for 2013.  It was reported after 8PM tonight that the Women’s Equality Coalition was urging the Assembly to break up the package and vote on nine of the ten provisions separately.

I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of the assembly taking up the nine provisions separately without the abortion amendment.  I suppose right now I am leaning more with them doing it because those amendments are important and many of them are long overdue.  What I do know for sure is that the IDC members need to be primaried because they threw reproductive justice groups and New York State women under a bus.

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

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