Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Christine Quinn's Next Political Move? Equality For Women

Christine Quinn's Next Political Move? Equality For Women

While women have made corporate, political, and social advances in the U.S., arguments over equal access to health care and the wage gap still play out at dinner tables and ballot boxes across the country. New York's progressive political arm, however, is seeking to inject women's issues into the political conversation with former New York City Council speaker and 2013 mayoral candidate Christine Quinn leading the burgeoning Women's Equality Party.

The party was built to end the lack of protection from discrimination that women still face in the state of New York, with the goal of taking these reforms to a national level. In order for the party to be officially recognized by the state, the party needs 50,000 votes for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hulchol on its party line.

"What we are is an expression of women's frustration and women's anger," Quinn says. "This movement and this year's election is really an effort to stand up and say 'enough,' to give women more political muscle, and to move us in a direction where women's issues can no longer be considered 'other,' extraneous issues which people can disregard."

The push for the Women's Equality Party, formed by Cuomo and supporters, was officially announced by Huchol in July. The formation of the party came on the heels of the disappointing failure of the New York State Senate to pass the Women's Equality Act, which would have been a groundbreaking piece of legislation. The act focused on a 10-point agenda to codify legal protection for women in areas such as sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and reproductive rights. Quinn and her colleagues were crushed by the outcome, but she says it led to a renewed push toward bringing women's issues to the forefront.

She stresses her commitment to include lesbian, bisexual, and trans women's issues in the party's agenda, stating that passing the gender no-discrimination act is at the forefront of her mission.

"I am passionate about these issues because they are who I am, literally and figuratively," Quinn says.

Quinn notes the disparity in access and discrimination that LGBT people sometimes face with health care — for example, being a queer woman at the gynecologist.

"I don't even think they mean it, but these types of questions force you to come out in that moment, and that's a very vulnerable position for LGBT women to be placed in. It's difficult to get women to engage in primary health care as it is, and we don't want anything out there that is discouraging or dissuading them."

Quinn says she plans to use the party as a platform to drive immediate action on legislation that would achieve results that women have been waiting for years to happen.

"[My goddaughter] worked really hard to get to college and is working really hard now," Quinn says. "I want to make sure that she will be paid the same as the men in her class and the men in her future law firm — that when she decides to have a baby, that this decision won't be a problem for her career."

Regarding the future of feminism, Quinn says she is optimistic that increasing numbers of young women are standing up for themselves, including rallying on college campuses against sexual assault. And while there are some who would accept the concept we live in a post-feminist era, Quinn says society is not quite there yet.

"I would absolutely love that," she says. "But when you have the head of Microsoft speaking to a female conference, a room of women tech folk, and telling them that they shouldn't ask for raises, that they should just wait for karma — that right there says it all. It's just crazy — totally bizarre. We still have a long way to go."

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