In a flurry of activity before the end of the state legislature session, New York's Senate voted "yes" for the first step to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the state’s constitution. The measure adds protections for women and LGBTQ New Yorkers, while preventing discrimination for ethnic origin.
Bill sponsor Sen. Liz Krueger (D-New York City) hailed the passage.
"Currently, section 11 of New York State’s constitution provides protection from public or private discrimination only on the basis of race, color and creed," she said. "This section was adopted in 1938, prior to the civil rights movement, the women's movement, the LGBTQ movement, the disability rights movement and the many other challenges to discrimination in our state and nation."
Speaking on the Senate floor, Kruger said the language "is long overdue for an update."
"People assume we are all protected equally under our constitution and they are always amazed, when I talk about this bill, that these universes are not included in the New York State constitution today," she said. "In any group I've talked to, when I talk about, 'don't you think that we all should have the same equal rights under our constitution here in New York?' there's a resounding 'yes.'"
The measure passed with a vote by nearly all Democrats and Republicans in the chamber, at 62-0. Gov. Andrew Cuomo backs a more limited ERA that would ensure non-discrimination for women.
The measure still requires second passage by a consecutively elected state legislature. It would then go before the voters of New York. Krueger hoped that would happen within the next few years.