Amid nationwide attacks on reproductive rights, New York State legislature must protect pregnant people, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities in state constitution

YONKERS, NY – Today, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Action Fund rallied at Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ office, calling on the legislature to pass the Equality Amendment in tomorrow’s extraordinary session. The legislature must pass the amendment by August so that New Yorkers are able to vote on the measure in 2024. Without this, the Equality Amendment would not take effect until 2026, an unacceptable delay as the fight over abortion rights rages across the country, along with growing threats to LGBTQ+ individuals and the continued impacts of racism and racial violence.

The Equality Amendment (S.8797B/A.10468A) would fill critical gaps in New York state’s constitution by prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s race, ethnicity, national origin, disability, and sex – including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Despite the fact that religious freedom is already robustly protected in our state constitution, a small right-wing contingent has weaponized religion to stop the amendment, leaving other groups without constitutional protections and vulnerable to discrimination. A newly released poll shows that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support passing an Equality Amendment – and have an expectation for lawmakers to step up and take meaningful action. 

With the right to abortion a fiction in half of the country, Americans are counting on New York for leadership. When the Supreme Court overturned Roe, they also spelled trouble for marriage equality, contraception, trans rights, and more. When legislators return to Albany tomorrow, they must not leave with out passing a comprehensive Equality Amendment (S.8797, A.10468A)  making clear that there’s no place in New York state for discrimination based on a person's race, national origin, disability, or sex — including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. It would be a failure of our state government for this extraordinary session to adjourn without passing these much needed broad protections included in the Equality Amendment: the nation is counting on us to meet this moment with courage,” said Shannon Wong, Interim Director of Regional Offices at the New York Civil Liberties Union.

 “By overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court has now officially given politicians permission to control what we do with our bodies, deciding that we can no longer be trusted to determine the course for our own lives. This dangerous and chilling decision will have devastating consequences across the country, forcing people to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles for care or remain pregnant. But make no mistake – this decision goes beyond abortion. This is about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control how your future is going to be. Our rights are no longer safe. That is why it is critical to pass the Equality Amendment in New York, to protect New Yorkers from discrimination and to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health care are secure, regardless of who is in office,” said Vincent Russell, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Action Fund.