Flanked by gay rights activists, Paterson signed the order at a press event at the LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village on Wednesday.
“For generations, New York has been a national leader on civil rights, yet the State has lagged far behind in securing basic civil rights for transgender New Yorkers.
“I am proud to sign this important measure to not only bring workforce protection to the transgender community under the law, but to bring greater equality and civil rights to the State of New York.”
– Governor David Paterson
The order is limited because it doesn’t provide protection for those in the private sector. An executive order prohibiting discrimination in state employment is the furthest extent to which any governor is able to exercise his or her executive power.
Extending protections to private employees must be accomplished by the state legislature, but the governor says this order should be seen as a stepping stone to broader protections.
“Governor Paterson has taken significant action to advance equality for all New York state employees,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The ability to provide for our families is non-negotiable. We applaud Governor Paterson for his commitment to the LGBT community and look forward to working with fair-minded New York legislators to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act which will protect private employees.”
New York joins eight other states in which an executive order, administrative order, or personnel regulation prohibits discrimination against public employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity: Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Earlier this year, a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced into both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Federal legislation would provide employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all 50 states.