New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's support for the LGBTQ community drew praise (and some criticism) from entertainers Dominique Jackson, Indya Moore and Adam Rippon, who were present at the signing ceremony at New York City's LGBT Community Center to honor the progress activists have made.
Friday morning, Gov. Cuomo signed bills into law that ban anti-transgender discrimination and the use of conversion therapy on minors. The state Senate and Assembly had passed both bills January 15.
The Gender Identity Non-Discrimination Act, or GENDA, adds gender identity and expression to New York's civil rights law, banning discrimination based on these characteristics in employment, housing, and public accommodations. The conversion therapy bill prohibits licensed therapists from subjecting minors to the discredited and harmful practice of trying to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Pose star Dominique Jackson spoke at the signing event, praising Gov. Cuomo for his advocacy and acknowledging members of the trans community who pushed for this legislation.
"What you are doing here is setting an example for other states and this federal government to follow," she said. "Today the administration in Washington is doing everything it can to take this nation backwards and trample on the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. It is un-American, and it is frightening, but we are resilient. In these dark times, we look to states like New York to lead the way."
Jackson said the bills sent an important message that New York stands with the LGBTQIA+ community, making the state a light for other states to follow.
"To each and every one of you out here, we're not asking you to do anything other than respect us. Don't tell me about tolerance. Don't tell me about acceptance. Look at me as the woman that I am and respect that."
Gov. Cuomo signs GENDA and anti-conversion therapy bill into law.
Her Pose costar Indya Moore was also in attendance, and told The Advocate that she wanted to acknowledge "the hard work that was put in by trans advocates and activists, black and brown trans women who have fought so hard to have this passed, and the political figures who listened and took into account the vulnerability of trans people."
However, she expressed concern about the unaddressed issue of mass incarceration. "In the same ways that we see marijuana legalized yet we don't see people who were arrested as a result of selling marijuana before it was legalized because of poverty, I have concerns about trans people who were incarcerated for defending themselves because of transphobia."
While she viewed the signing as an important step forward, she urged legislators and activists to keep pushing for a more comprehensive approach to transphobia and bigotry that would include education, family counseling, and restorative justice for people in impoverished communities.
"It's so quick to flick a pen and create rules," she said. "Especially in this time and age where the government is trying to revoke trans people from receiving service and giving service. This is a really great intentional step, but I also think there needs to be more compassionate and intimate work done for people who have been taught by the same government that is now banning us that it's OK to be violent toward LGBTQIA people."
She added, "Bills are created and flipped all the time. This governor can leave and another governor can come in that flips the bill just while we're getting so comfortable."
Activist and Olympic medalist Adam Rippon, who was in New York to film the RuPaul's Drag Race season 11 cast reveal and present at the Town & Country Jewelry Awards, told The Advocate that he made a point of attending the signing ceremony before returning to Los Angeles.
"To hear Governor Cuomo speak, it was just so awesome to hear all of the things that he's championing for LGBTQ rights," he said. "And then to hear Dominique Jackson from Pose speak, it just brought me to tears. She was so well-spoken and so amazing. I love her as an actress and I love her even more as a person and an activist."
"Once I was there, it turned into a moment of celebration. It was a way to celebrate all of the good things happening in our community and all of the good things that people are doing. Aside from New York strengthening the language to include trans people in nondiscriminatory laws, to have New York be the 15th state to ban conversion therapy is awesome -- but also a little shocking that it's only the 15th state.
"There's still a lot more work to do, but it's in moments like this when you can celebrate and hear people's stories, and hear how these laws are really going to affect a lot of young LGBTQ people. It's a time to celebrate the work that's been done."