Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the state to outlaw discrimination against transgender people, saying gender identity and expression should be included in the state's civil rights law alongside race, religion and disability.
In a letter to the Empire State Pride Agenda dated Tuesday, Cuomo said transgender people face significant discrimination, citing surveys that show three-fourths of transgender New Yorkers experience workplace harassment or mistreatment.
"It is not who we are as New Yorkers to permit this type of pervasive discrimination to continue," he said. "New York is a place where our differences are celebrated."
Cuomo said that if he is elected to a second term this fall, he will push to outlaw discrimination based on a person's gender identity or expression when it comes to things like housing, employment and public accommodations. The state already prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, disability and gender.
Legislation that would add gender identity and expression to the list has passed the state Assembly but not the Senate.
Empire State Pride Agenda, an organization that advocates for gay and transgender rights, released the letter from Cuomo on Thursday, the same day it announced it was endorsing him for a second term. It applauded his work to pass gay marriage and rescind a policy that required transgender people to offer proof of surgery when they ask to change the gender on their birth certificates.
"We look forward to working closely with Gov. Cuomo during his second term to ensure that all LGBT New Yorkers and our families are protected under the law," said the organization's executive director, Nathan Schaefer.
Cuomo faces Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout in next fall's Democratic primary. Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins are also running.
The organization also announced endorsements of Cuomo's running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.