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Women’s equality groups flock to the Capitol to support new legislation unveiled by Gov. Cuomo

by Molly Eadie on June 5, 2013

Supporters of Cuomo's women's equality agenda gather at the Capitol. Photo by Molly Eadie.

On Tuesday (June 4), the Women’s Equality Coalition, a group of more than 850 organizations including Planned Parenthood, the YWCA, League of Women Voters, Volunteers of America Greater New York and New York State United Teachers, held a rally in West Capitol Park in support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point women’s equality agenda—the specifics of which were announced earlier in the day.

“We depend on the health and well being of women in all walks of life—on the job, in the courts, in the home, and in the doctor’s office,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “What’s good for ‘Rosie the Riveter’ is good for society. We need equal laws for equal lives.”

Cuomo’s bill addresses issues like reproductive health rights and choice, pay equity, human trafficking, discrimination in the workplace, and discrimination against domestic violence victims and survivors. It also includes an abortion-rights provision, which has stirred up bad feelings among New York state Catholic bishops and many Senate Republicans, some of whom say they will not support the legislation. The bill is not likely to pass through the Senate without Republican votes.

Actress Cynthia Nixon, best known for her role in Sex and the City, spoke at the rally.

“It’s not right that just because a woman’s employer has fewer than four employees, she can’t file a sexual harassment suit,” she said. “It’s not right that a minor who was a human trafficking victim has to prove that she was coerced into prostitution. It is not right that a landlord can refuse to rent to you because you receive public rental assistance or can evict you because you were a domestic violence survivor. There are a lot of things that are not right for women in New York, so let’s talk about how we’re going to make them right.”

“I know that every one of you men, women, children understand what it means when we don’t have equality in our laws in New York State,” said Sen. Liz Krueger, co-chair of the Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus. “Your friends and family members have real life stories about discrimination in the workplace, discrimination in health care, abuse and domestic violence when the laws weren’t there for you.”