Despite overwhelming public support and an unprecedented statewide coalition of business, labor, women’s, health care and religious organizations, the State Legislature has failed to pass the Women’s Equality Act, legislation that would have helped all of New York’s 10 million women by breaking down barriers that prevent women from fully and equally participating in society. In response, the leadership of the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement, attributable to Executive Director Donna Lieberman:
“In any reasonable world, when 80 percent of the public supports an issue, it’s a no-brainer and it gets passed. So it is profoundly disappointing that the 10 commonsense provisions in the Women’s Equality Act will not be passed by the Legislature today.
“Ultimately the Women’s Equality Act became collateral damage in a political crossfire that had more to do with establishing electoral advantage than promoting women’s rights. And, as is common practice in Albany after a contentious political contest, there will now be placing of blame.
“The fact is, the statewide movement for adoption of the Women’s Equality Act has carried the day: The great majority of New Yorkers support stronger laws to ensure equal pay for women, to prevent sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace, to stop human trafficking, and to ensure a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.
“This legislation is about issues that are far more significant than the political turf war in Albany. And New Yorkers will hold accountable politicians who failed to speak up, stand up, and cast a vote for the Women’s Equality Act. The 2013 legislative session may have concluded in Albany, but the 21st Century movement for women’s rights in New York State is not over; it will continue until we achieve the real change that women need. And while the bill wasn’t passed in the regular session, we remain hopeful that the Legislature can return and do the right thing by women in a special session.”