The Equal Rights Amendment will add sex as a protected class to Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution. With this change, Section 11 of Article 1 of the New York State Constitution will read: No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws of this State or any subdivision thereof. No person shall, because of race, color, sex, creed or religion, be subjected to any discrimination in his or her civil rights by any other person or by any firm, corporation or institution, or by the State or any agency or subdivision of the state.
Statutes of limitations on rape cases impose a ticking clock on how long victims are able to come forward if they want to seek charges. For crimes of sexual violence in particular, the clock ticks against the trauma and culture of silence that prevents victims from speaking out. Over the last year, victims who have suffered in silence for decades have bravely spoken about their abuse, and also have laid bare the state's limited ability to prosecute their abusers due to the passage of time. In recognition of this fact, states across the country are lengthening or eliminating the statutes of limitations on crimes of sexual violence. While New York removed the statute of limitations for Rape in the First Degree, a five-year statute of limitations remains for Rape in the Second Degree and Rape in the Third Degree. Advancing legislation to eliminate the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second Degree and Third Degree will allow victims the full opportunity to obtain justice.
Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively to close the gender pay gap in New York. As part of this campaign, Governor Cuomo is continuing to advance legislation to expand the definition of "equal pay for equal work" to require equal pay on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, and other protected characteristics, and expand the requirement that equal pay be provided for all substantially similar work, adding flexibility in recognition of the complexity of the issue.
New York is a national leader in the fight against sexual harassment and last year Governor Cuomo signed into law the nation's most comprehensive sexual harassment package as part of the FY 2019 budget. But there is still more to be done to protect workers and hold abusers accountable. To build on these efforts, the Governor’s campaign will advance legislation to do the following:
- Lower the high bar set for employees to hold employers accountable under the New York Human Rights Law for sexual harassment by amending the requirement that conduct be "severe or pervasive" to constitute actionable conduct;
- Protect employees' rights to pursue complaints by mandating that all non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language stating that employees may still file a complaint of harassment or discrimination with a state or local agency and testify or participate in a government investigation; and
- Ensure workers know their rights, by requiring all employers to conspicuously post a sexual harassment educational poster in their workplace.
Here is a sampling of support for the Women's Justice Agenda: The Time is Now campaign.
NOW NYC President Sonia Ossorio said, “All New Yorkers should feel confident that they live in a state where they will not face discrimination because of gender or any other factor. The passage of the state’s Equal Rights Amendment would ensure that New York remains a place where all can feel welcome, and I am grateful that Governor Cuomo has refused to end this fight for women until the amendment is passed and written into state law once and for all. New Yorkers should be proud to have a leader like Governor Cuomo who is working tirelessly to protect the rights of all citizens.”
Dina Bakst, Co-Founder & Co-President, A Better Balance said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo for prioritizing the fight for equal pay and other bold policies to advance the rights of women and girls. Practices like asking for salary history allow employers to discriminate against women—especially women of color—who have historically earned less than men in their equivalent positions. And the wage gap strongly disadvantages working single mothers, perpetuating the cycle of poverty. New York has long been a leader in the fight for equal pay and has an opportunity to carry that leadership forward this session."
Jennifer Klein, Chief Strategy and Policy Officer at TIME’S UP said, “New York should be proud to be the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, but when it comes to women’s safety, New York should be ashamed. It often takes rape survivors years to grapple with what happened to them and come forward to report their rapist, but New York gives victims among the shortest amount of time to do so — shorter than every other state except North Dakota. TIME’S UP applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership and all state leaders committed to fixing this problem and strengthening New York’s laws on sexual harassment.”
Beverly Neufeld, President of PowHer New York said, "In a time when our rights are under siege, Governor Cuomo is standing strong for women. His unwavering commitment to promoting and passing these critical equal pay, safety and sexual harassment laws, moves us closer to achieving our shared goal: make discrimination a thing of the past and ensure women are treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Thank you, Governor, for being a leader in the continuing fight for women's rights and for advancing a progressive agenda to lead this state forward.”
Janice Brown, President, AAUW-NYS said, “To guarantee equality, individual rights and social justice for a diverse and inclusive society, AAUW-NYS advocates vigorous enforcement of and full access to civil and constitutional rights, including affirmative action and expanding voting rights; freedom from violence and fear of violence, including hate crimes, in homes, schools, workplaces and communities; passage and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; and self-determination of one's reproductive health decisions.”
Selena Bennett-Chambers, Director of Public Policy, NYSCASA said, “As an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence and all forms of oppression, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NYSCASA) applauds Governor Cuomo for working to advance and protect the rights of women and girls through the Women’s Agenda. In the face of federal rollbacks and attacks on women’s rights, Governor Cuomo is working to advance women’s rights and not scale back on them. With proposals that we support such as Modernizing Pay Equity, Increased Protections Against Harassment in the Workplace and Passing the Equal Rights Amendment, to name a few, New York is continuing to move in the right direction.”
Michele Johnson, YWCAs of NYS, said, “As home to the women’s right movement a century ago, New York, under Governor Cuomo's leadership, is continuing its fight for equal rights for women. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your leadership on these key issues that will protect women from abusers and allow even more women to speak out against their abuse. At a time when basic human rights are under attack, we applaud Governor Cuomo for working so hard to protect the citizens of New York ."
Deirdre Hay, President of WBASNY said,“Governor Cuomo is yet again proving himself a champion for progressive change in New York State. While Washington attempts to roll back women’s equality and autonomy in the eyes of the law, New York’s answer is bold and inspiring. By fighting to modernize New York's pay equity laws, the Governor is sending a clear message to the federal government that women deserve equal pay for equal work, and most importantly they deserve equal rights.”
Robin Chappelle-Golston, President and CEO from Planned Parenthood Empire State Act, said,“Governor Cuomo made history this January when he signed the Reproductive Health Act, enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade into New York State law. In the wake of this critical act, he also recognizes that there is more work to be done. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s unwavering leadership and drive to advance his Women’s Justice Agenda, important policies and protections that will put us one step closer to true justice for all."
Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence said,“Governor Cuomo proposed an ambitious Women’s Justice Agenda this year that, when fully implemented, will further the rights of women in New York State in nearly every facet of their lives. The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act – legislation that promotes justice for domestic violence victims who defend themselves against their abusers – has already been signed into law as a result of the Governor’s leadership. The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence urges the Legislature to approve the final four components of Governor Cuomo’s Justice Agenda before the close of this year’s legislative session. It is imperative for New York to remove the statute of limitations for Rape in the Second and Third Degrees. It takes years for victims of sexual assault to process their trauma and choose to press criminal charges. They should not be held to an arbitrary timeline to seek justice. We also support efforts to strengthen employee protections against sexual harassment in the workplace, to ensure equal pay for substantially similar work and to add sex as a protected class in the New York State Constitution. With these efforts, New York will lead the way in ending gender discrimination and affirming women’s rights in the workplace.”
Sevonna Brown, Associate Executive Director, Black Women’s Blue Print, said, “Black Women’s Blueprint supports the efforts to eliminate the statute of limitations for rape specially for survivors who decide to come forward, report sexual violence, and testify. We call for the support of survivors who decide over the course of their lives how they might seek justice and take action for themselves. Inside of the critical need to cultivate space for survivor choice and voice, is the need for a bold and comprehensive set of support systems for survivors who decide to come forward. We applaud the Governor for urging the passage of this legislation.”
Laura Ladd Bierman, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of NYS saidm “The League of Women Voters of NYS commends the governor for his continued support for legislation that guarantees equal rights for all, including equal pay, reproductive healthcare and protection from sexual harassment.”
Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families said, “Gender-based attacks and discrimination have no place in New York State. Time and time again, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated strong leadership on key issues for women, including expanding the ERA, pay equity, eliminating the statue of limitations for rape and increasing protections against harassment in the workplace. A tireless champion for ensuring true justice and equality for all, the Governor should be applauded for these efforts.”