It’s (Long Past) Time for the New York State Senate to Pass GENDA

Behind the elated celebrations following the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality last month was the power of knowing that times are changing. Over the years, marriage equality became the poster child for LGBT rights, with advocates arguing that a victory on marriage equality would pave the way for other LGBT issues. Now, with a major win under our belts and momentum on our side, the movement must continue to push for the next set of affirming, life-saving, and inclusive changes to our laws. For New York State and the Manhattan Young Democrats, the place to start is by urging the New York State Senate to pass the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA).

According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act “is a bill that would protect transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers from discrimination by adding “gender identity and expression” to the protected classes of the existing Human Rights Law.” In New York State right now, it is illegal to deny someone housing, employment or access to public accommodations or services (e.g. service in a restaurant) based on their age, race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status or disability. Transgender and gender non-conforming people deserve these same protections as other historically marginalized groups under the law.

Transgender New Yorkers today can face dizzying obstacles to living a full, productive life. Though New York City and several other cities and counties across the State have passed local protections, for 40% of New York State residents, it is legal to be fired or evicted from their homes for being transgender. 74% have experienced harassment or mistreatment at work. Transgender and gender-non conforming individuals are 5 times more likely than the general population to have an income of $10,000 or less. As New Yorkers, we can and we must do better.

The New York State Assembly has passed GENDA every year since 2006. Yet, every year, the bill has stalled in the Senate. Governor Cuomo has pledged to support for this important legislation, but the leadership must make it a priority to pass the bill.

Activists and elected officials must work with Senators from across the State to encourage them to stand up and protect their transgender and gender non-conforming residents. Though all New York City legislators have vowed to support the bill, we must make sure Albany knows that this is a priority for their constituents.

Luckily, there are signs the times are changing. Rhetoric on and off the Senate floor is shifting, giving activists hope that GENDA is poised to become the next major win for the LGBT community. MYD and our progressive allies are committed to advocating for the passage of this necessary, affirming bill.

Join MYD in supporting this critical civil rights legislation: contact your State Senator here.

For more information on this issue, check out these resources:

Bookmark and Share
Tagged , , | Comments:

And the award goes to…

Next month, more than 700 supporters and elected officials will gather to honor the hard work of NYC’s young progressives at our 7th Annual Young Gets It Done.

- – -

Dozens of elected officials will be in attendance, including:

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Governor David A. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, Public Advocate Letitia James, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright and more! 

Read on to learn more about each of this year’s honorees.

To purchase your tickets: BIT.LY/YGID2015.

- – -

The Honorees

Ken Biberaj


Ken Biberaj currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Since 2005, Ken has served as an executive at his family’s real estate company, which is active in Manhattan and the Bronx, and which owns and operates the iconic Russian Tea Room. Through this work, Ken has become an advocate for the hospitality industry, serving on the Restaurant Committee for NYC & Company and the Local Leadership Council of Business Forward.

Ken’s active support for small businesses and hospitality motivated him to run for City Cuncil on the Upper West Side in 2013. His presence on the political scene was quickly recognized. He was honored by City & State Magazine as one of “40 under 40” upcoming political leaders. He also received endorsements from the Small Business Coalition, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Governor David Paterson, the League of Conservation Voters and the League of Independent Theaters.

Ken is active on the Upper West Side, serving on the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center at the Amsterdam Houses, and Executive Vice President of the Ansonia Independent Democrats.

Ken received his Bachelor’s in political science at American University, his Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a JD from New York Law School.

- – -

Alex Gleason AG-Headshot

Alex Gleason is the Policy Associate for the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Collaborating with colleagues at the CLC and affiliated organizations, Alex works to advocate for effective policies aimed at ‘lifting the floor,’ and growing the economy ‘from the bottom-up, middle-out’ for all workers.

In addition to his work at the Central Labor Council, Alex is an adjunct faculty member at SUNY Empire State College’s Harry Van Arsdale Center, where he teaches labor studies. This fall, Alex will join the faculty of his alma mater, The New School, to teach at Eugene Lang College.

Alex is originally a year-round resident of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Brooklyn.

- – -

Andrew Gounardes

Andrew Gounardes HeadshotAndrew Gounardes is a native of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and currently serves as Counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, where he is responsible for legal and policy matters affecting the Borough President’s Office and serves as a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System.

Previously, Andrew served as Director of External Affairs at Citizens Committee for New York City, and Legislative Aide for Investigations to United States Senator Robert Menendez.

Andrew is also currently vice president of the Bay Ridge Democrats, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2012, Andrew was the Democratic nominee for the New York State Senate in the 22nd District.

After Superstorm Sandy, Andrew co-founded Bay Ridge Cares, which helped prepare 25,000 hot meals for those affected by Sandy’s devastation. In addition to his local and citywide involvement, Andrew is active at a national level on issues affecting the Greek community.

Andrew is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School and Hunter College.

- – -

Eunic Ortiz

Eunic OrtizEunic Ortiz has committed her career to fighting for full equality for all. As Director of Online Communications for 1199SEIU, Eunic manages digital communications for the largest healthcare union in the country, spanning nearly 400,000 members in the healthcare service industry.

Eunic also serves as President of Stonewall Democrats of NYC, the largest LGBT Democratic club in the state. As President, she works with elected officials and community groups to help pass legislation, build policy, and create a better city for LGBT New Yorkers.

Before joining 1199SEIU, Eunic worked with FleishmanHillard‘s reputation management group, and served as spokesperson and Digital Manager for the New York City Council and its then-Speaker, Christine C. Quinn.

In 2012, Eunic traveled to Charlotte as a delegate representing New York State in the Democratic National Convention.

Eunic earned her Master’s from New York University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida, and Associate of Arts from St. Petersburg College in Tarpon Springs, FL.

She was born and raised near Orlando, Florida.

- – -

Kat Kane

KatKane-HeadshotKat Kane is a Senior Writer & Creative Strategist on the digital team at Hillary for America. She joined the campaign after completing a master’s degree in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Previously, Kat served as a Senior Associate at SKDKnickerbocker, where she developed and implemented advocacy strategies for a range of clients, including the successful New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition. She was recognized for her work at the firm as one of City & State’s “40 Under 40 Rising Stars” of 2012. Kat is also a longtime MYD member and served as the organization’s Vice President in 2013.

Prior to entering politics, Kat held production positions at MSNBC, CNN and New York 1. She occasionally writes about politics and policy for the Huffington Post and WIRED. Kat holds a bachelor’s in journalism and mass communications from New York University.

Bookmark and Share

MYD’s Statement on the SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling

“Today’s historic Supreme Court decision on the rights of same-sex couples to marry marks a significant and important chapter in our nation’s history. By officially granting everyone, regardless of who they love, the same rights under the law, the Supreme Court has upheld the Constitution and has solidified equal rights for all. The Manhattan Young Democrats have long supported, and fought for, marriage equality and rejoices in this groundbreaking decision. We should all be celebrating today.”

Bookmark and Share

MYD’s Statement on the Call to Remove the Confederate Flag in South Carolina

“The Manhattan Young Democrats support the call by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to remove the Confederate Flag from outside the State Capitol. The flag represents a dark period in American history and its formal call for removal marks a significant milestone in the dedication of moving our nation’s race relations forward. We stand in support of the people of Charleston and we are committed to progress in the wake of such a devastating tragedy.”

Bookmark and Share

TOMORROW: June General Meeting

Please join us for our monthly general meeting TOMORROW at 7p at Gramercy Park Bar! We’ll be sharing information on ways to get involved, upcoming trainings, and summer events (including Young Gets It Done)!

This month, we’ll be joined by several folks running for District Leader positions across the city. There will be time for Q&A, so bring your questions! Candidates speaking include Kim Moscaritolo, Corey Ortega, Jenifer Rajkumar, & Arthur Schwartz. If you’re running for DL and would like to come speak to our members, please reach out to Allison at 

**Please note: MYD does not endorse any candidates running in a primary.**

RSVP on Facebook:

Bookmark and Share

New Learning Labs!

*NEW* June 10, 7pm – “It Doesn’t Add Up”: An Intro to Wage Theft in the US. It’s not just nail salon workers getting their wages stolen - wage theft is everywhere, and its systematic. This Lab will analyze wage theft in the United States on both the individual and collective level, looking at how it affects both the average worker and society at large. What factors drove wage theft into becoming the most common form of property crime in the country? What are the challenges to enforcing existing labor laws, and what policies may better address wage abuse? Ultimately, what can we at MYD do about it?

Taught by Christina Isnardi
Free for MYD Members, $15 for non-Members
Register by emailing
Location: 108 W 39th Street, 12th Floor

*NEW* June 17, 7pm – Making the Case for the Environment: Communications Strategies that Work. This workshop will look at what made opposition to fracking a success and how to apply those lessons to the key environmental challenges awaiting us in coming years, be it raising awareness of climate change, stopping the Port Ambrose LNG project, or moving the US towards cleaner energy sources. What messages resonate best with lawmakers and the public, who are the key decision makers to target, and what tactics have been proven to work? Taught by the Sane Energy Project’s Patrick Robbins, this Lab is for both environmental advocates and those looking to boost their communications skills overall.

Taught by Patrick Robbins, Sane Energy Project
Free for MYD Members, $15 for non-Members
Register by emailing
Location: 108 W 39th Street, 12th Floor

Bookmark and Share