June 8, 2023

The Ulster County Legislature will maintain a public listening to subsequent month on a brand new proposed native legislation to broaden the present Human Rights Regulation to incorporate gender expression as a protected class from discrimination. The proposed native legislation has been dubbed the “Drag is Not a Crime Act.”

“Throughout the nation we’re seeing drag performers and members of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood threatened by extremists of their cities and state legislatures, regardless of dwell leisure being protected speech enshrined within the First Modification,” stated vice chair Peter Criswell (D-Metropolis of Kingston) in a Might 15 press launch. “This legislation will perpetually make sure that Ulster County is a welcoming area for drag performers to specific themselves freely and with out bias or harassment.”

“The already susceptible populations of Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual+ (2SLGBTQIA+) people have fallen beneath assault with introduction of discriminatory laws throughout america,” reads the textual content of the proposed legislation. “The American Civil Liberties Union has recognized the introduction of 452 anti-2SLGBTQIA+ payments in 2023, with extra launched daily, endangering the well being, security and well-being of non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming people.”

Criswell, the previous govt director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Group Heart in Kingston, stated the far proper’s latest efforts to ban drag efficiency are “yet one more solution to hurt the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.” 

“(On the LGBTQ Heart) we’d get calls on a regular basis from individuals who would say, ‘I’m being harassed the place I dwell. Individuals see me wearing a manner that they, they suppose I shouldn’t be dressed they usually’re harassing me,’” Criswell stated. “We now have to have recourse for folks.”

The Legislature final week voted 20-2 to open a public listening to on Tuesday, June 13 at 7 p.m. in the course of the subsequent common session, with Joe Maloney (D-Saugerties) and Kevin Roberts (R-Plattekill) the lone holdouts. 

Criswell stated he was impressed to creator the proposed legislation due to anti-drag laws both handed or shifting ahead in states like Tennessee and Arkansas. 

“I felt like we must be proactive right here in Ulster County and actually make a press release and say we’re going to be defending our neighborhood,” Criswell stated. “And the best way that folks specific themselves is one thing that’s necessary, particularly within the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.”

The introductory native legislation would add gender expression to what Criswell stated is a “very sturdy” Human Rights Regulation. 

“The Ulster County Legislature acknowledges, finds and determines that the legal guidelines and rules of america of America and the State of New York prohibit acts of discrimination, together with discrimination in employment, discrimination in public lodging, resort and amusement, discrimination in housing lodging, discrimination in business area and land transactions, and discrimination within the issuing of credit score primarily based upon impermissible issues referring to an individual’s race, colour, faith, ethnicity, creed, age, nationwide origin, alienage or citizenship standing, familial standing, gender, together with gender identification, gender expression, gender dysphoria, transgender standing, group identification, marital standing, sexual orientation or incapacity,” reads the amended Human Rights Regulation as proposed. 

Beneath the Human Rights Regulation, final modified in 2018, those that consider they’re the sufferer of discrimination primarily based on gender expression can file a grievance with the Human Rights Fee, which is able to examine the declare and will lead to an award as much as $20,000 in damages following a willpower of discrimination.

Criswell stated including gender expression to the county’s Human Rights Regulation was a needed step. 

“There’s a distinction between gender identification and gender expression,” Criswell stated. “Gender identification actually is who you might be. You already know who you might be intrinsically, who you are feeling you might be. And gender expression is the best way that you just specific that on the planet and specific that publicly. And so for any individual to be threatened by the best way that they specific themselves publicly is simply incorrect.”

In the course of the legislative assembly held on Tuesday, Might 16, the “Drag is Not a Crime Act” had assist not solely to set the proposed legislation for a public listening to, but additionally in spirit. 

“I believe it’s wanted in gentle of what’s happening in different jurisdictions across the nation,” stated Eric Stewart (D-Hurley and Marbletown).“I believe it goes a protracted solution to guaranteeing that Ulster County acknowledges that every one folks, no matter their scenario, deserve dignity and respect.”

Phil Erner (D-Metropolis of Kingston) stated he anticipated there will likely be appreciable assist for the proposed legislation on June 13. 

“I believe we are going to hear many tales at this public listening to if I’ve something to do with turning folks out,” Erner stated. “The laws has ‘drag is just not a criminal offense’ proper in it. So the concept is that if somebody needs to decorate in a different way from the gender you or an individual apart from them would possibly assume that they’re or determine that they need to be, then that’s not okay to discriminate towards them primarily based on that expression.”

Attending the assembly just about, Kathy Nolan (D-Denning, Hardenburgh, Olive and Shandaken) agreed. 

“We impose on one another many issues which can be actually pointless, and if any individual else needs to attempt to inform me gown, it simply doesn’t appear truthful,” Nolan stated.“It hasn’t appeared truthful to me since I used to be little. And happily, younger folks on the planet right this moment are recognizing this…and it’s thrilling to me that we don’t need to be in a binary world.”

In a Might 15 press launch, County Government Jen Metzger stated she supported the proposed legislation. 

“Everybody ought to have the ability to dwell and thrive with out concern of discrimination or prejudice, however sadly we’re seeing an increasing number of assaults nationwide on transgender and gender non-conforming people,” Metzger stated. “By increasing Ulster County’s Human Rights Regulation to incorporate gender expression, we are able to higher shield the security and wellbeing of neighborhood members and foster a extra inclusive neighborhood.”

Maloney stated he forged a dissenting vote as a result of he didn’t see how the change would add any sensible safety that folks didn’t have already got. He cited the Legislature’s 2018 ban on conversion remedy upon a minor as one thing he may assist as a result of his questions on how it could work had been answered. 

“Give me an instance or a hypothetical of this getting used,” Maloney stated. “All these items, they sound good, however we’re actually not doing the work of the folks. We’re doing issues that sound good that we are able to convey again to our neighborhood and say, see what I did, and fill a spot up with 200 audio system which can be no extra protected than they had been earlier than we handed this.”

Criswell objected to Maloney’s evaluation of the proposed legislation. 

“To begin with, this laws is just not about me feeling good, it doesn’t matter what you say, interval,” Criswell stated.“What we’re doing right here is we’re together with gender expression into our present human rights legislation. It doesn’t exist. These phrases, gender expression, don’t exist in our present human rights legislation. That’s what we’re doing.”

The proposed native legislation has 12 co-sponsors, and Criswell stated he expects it should have each supporters and detractors on the June 13 public listening to. 

“It’s a tragic incontrovertible fact that many individuals on this world and right here in Ulster County are stuffed with hate,” Criswell stated in the course of the Might 16 assembly.“I used to be going to learn the net feedback about this legislation we’re proposing, feedback that threatened hurt and violence in direction of LGBTQ+ neighborhood members. I made a decision not to try this. These such feedback display exactly the necessity for this legislation. Along with the hate speech, I’ve additionally seen ample appreciation for this motion we’re about to take. Individuals who have been residing in concern daily are feeling heard, seen and guarded. As I forged my vote, I’m retaining foremost in my thoughts their hopes for belonging and inclusion.”

The submit County legislature introduces measure so as to add gender expression to its Human Rights Regulation first appeared on Hudson Valley One.