The Women’s Equality Act

At his 2013 State of the State address, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his ambitious support to codify the rights of all Women in State law.  The Act entitled the “Women’s Equality Act” or WEA, contains 10 provisions that support the rights and economic independence of women in New York State.

No one thought it would be easy to pass, since 1 provision is somewhat controversial.  But it was expected that the Governor could use his significant political clout, in addition to the importance of this issue to 52% of the population of New York State, to squeak by the opposition.

The Buffalo News outlines what happened, and why WEA failed at the last minute in a surprisingly candid news story.  I have excerpted the key points below, but to read the full account click here:

“Last Tuesday, The Buffalo News reported that Cuomo administration officials were quietly floating a plan to women’s groups that they embrace the idea of lawmakers passing nine of the 10 bills and letting go of an effort to codify the state’s abortion laws in the event that the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing abortion is ever overturned.

The Cuomo administration said no such requests were made, and representatives from about 15 women’s groups met privately with Cuomo that night. The representatives later said they were committed to the idea of all 10 provisions or none at all.

But by Friday, things changed. The Senate passed nine separate bills, without the abortion provision that the Assembly had approved a day earlier in a single, omnibus bill. That meant the Senate and Assembly versions did not match, and bills must match precisely to become law. Advocates, including Cuomo, then shifted from a 10-or-nothing lobbying strategy to a nine-is-needed position. They all assumed the Assembly would then just take up the nine separate bills.

But they were wrong. The Assembly ended its 2013 session without any final “same-as” bill with the Senate.”

And our local champion, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes went on to say:

“We were just not going to do that, and I’m still not because I think all 10 should be included,” Peoples-Stokes said. “The bills were weakened, and you can’t get the choice bill in what you are getting? You get fluff? We don’t want fluff. These are women’s lives. We don’t deserve fluff.”

Well, the Governor apparently heard the message loud and clear.  This year (2014) his State of the State included this section (that, by the way garnered the biggest applause line of the entire presentation):

Gov. Cuomo’s remarks on WEA – 2014 State of the State

So, I am going to offer a series of blog posts, breaking down each of the 10 sections and laying out why it is VITAL that we pass WEA this session!  Stay tuned…