In the past two years we’ve seen an outpouring of hate, attempts at overt discrimination, attempted role back of basic human rights protections at the federal level. We are facing a potential crisis in the US Supreme Court over settled law in the area’s of women’s health, reproductive rights, marriage equality, and basic LGBTQ civil rights protections.
We’ve seen attempts to ban members of the transgender community from serving openly in the military as well as prohibit their use of public accommodations based on lies and fears of spread by homophobic and transphobic hate groups bent on our elimination from society. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who heads the Department of Justice, issued guidance stating that LGBTQ people are not covered under federal anti-discrimination laws. This opened the gates to discrimination in all aspects of our lives, including housing, employment, medical care and insurance coverage. We’ve see repeated civil rights violations of our immigrant and native neighbors.
At the state level, for the 16th straight year, the New York State Senate has refused to bring the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act – GENDA out of committee a discussion and vote on the bill in the full Senate. The New York State Assembly as already passed this same bill for 11 consecutive years!
Rather than focusing on the negatives , I find it helpful to come together to promote diversity, unity, peace, acceptance and understanding with our neighbors.
Representatives from state government will be in the North Country for two “Know Your Rights” forums on Monday, October 22, 2018, from 7 – 8:30 pm in the Cantwell Room of the Saranac Lake Public Library. Another forum will be as well as on Tuesday Oct 23, 2018 from 7 – 8:30 p.m. at Hawkins Hall Room 153B on the SUNY Plattsburgh Campus (corner Beekman Street and Cornelia Avenue.
These sessions are free and open to the public. The purpose is to inform the community of their legal rights and how to identify and approach a situation in which their rights may have been violated. This information is especially important in rural communities such as ours, where resources are scarce and this type of information is less readily available. This forum is in response to the continued violation of the rights of marginalized communities and seeks to inform the public with the knowledge they need to take action if or when their rights are violated.
The session also seeks provide information and resources available to all New Yorkers. This includes intersectional groups and people of all social identities, individuals in divers age groups, disability status, gender identity, sexuality, refugee status, socio-economic status, race, ethnicity and veteran status just to name a few.
I welcome everyone in the Adirondack North Country community to come to “Know Your Rights” as citizens in New York State.