State of the State: Cuomo proposes Equal Rights Amendment

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"We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, and hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."

“We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, and hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization,” quoth President Roosevelt, as carved into stone at the FDR memorial in Washington (AFresh1 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As part of Wednesday’s State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo advocated updating New York’s 1938 Equal Rights Amendment to reflect modern concepts of equality. Guaranteeing anti-discrimination legislation throughout the state represents a key component of Cuomo’s women’s agenda.

Equal opportunity is not promised to New Yorkers, and expanded protections would affect a diverse cross-section of citizens. Cuomo proposes establishing an inclusive Equal Rights Amendment by adding sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity to the state constitution’s protected classes.

Currently, New York’s constitution prohibits discrimination based only on race, color, creed, and religion. Federally protected classes enumerated in amendments to the U.S. Constitution and civil rights and anti-discrimination acts are sex, race, age, disability, color, creed, national origin, religion, and genetic information. No equal rights amendment has been ratified nationally, and no other state boasts statutes so robust as Cuomo proposes to combat prejudice and unfair treatment.

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