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Letter: New York Needs Equality for Women

The anti-choice, extremist federal legislation that is threatening women’s reproductive rights and the zeal on the part of some states to erode the protections that allow a woman to control her own health and body require that we take definitive action in New York.

As a member of the Assembly and a supporter of the 10-point Women’s Equality Act (WEA) proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo I, was proud to be among those standing together to protect women’s rights. The package of bills, which advocate for women’s equality on all levels, passed the Assembly in its entirety.

However, the state Senate, which failed to stand up for the governor’s entire agenda, ended its legislative session without passing the WEA in its entirety.  

The package of bills that made up the WEA included pay equity for women doing the same jobs as men and prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. It strengthened human trafficking laws and offered better protection for domestic violence victims. The legislation would have stopped many forms of discrimination that target women; from pregnancy to housing to family status and source-of-income laws that create obstacles to a better life.

As with all negotiations, the Assembly worked with the Senate to craft legislation that would be palatable to everyone, which meant compromising on some issues that have failed to pass in the Senate year after year. However, in the end we would not compromise on the most basic of these women’s rights; to control one’s own health and body. To do otherwise would have been unacceptable.

The Senate, by not passing the WEA, has aligned itself with those at the federal level and other states that are moving in the direction of denying women the right of equality. The critical issue of equal protection under the law for all women deserves full action. The Assembly will not be select in its support of women; picking and choosing the rights to which all women are entitled.

We have not and we will not falter in support of the Women’s Equality Act agenda until every one of the 10 points is adopted.

Assemblyman Chuck Lavine