June 28, 2020
ON PRIDE SUNDAY, GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES APPLICATIONS FOR THE RESTORATION OF HONOR ACT NOW OPEN TO HELP VETERANS DENIED HONORABLE DISCHARGE DUE TO SEXUAL ORIENTATION OR GENDER IDENTITY
New York State Landmarks Were Lit Over the Weekend in Colors of LGBTQ Pride Flag - See Photos Here
Governor Also Announces DFS Action to Protect LGBTQ New Yorkers Against Bias in Healthcare
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York veterans who were denied honorable discharges due to their LGBTQ identity can begin submitting applications under The Restoration of Honor Act. This will allow veterans who were denied an honorable discharge because of their sexual orientation or gender identity to have their New York State veterans' benefits restored.
The Governor also announced today an action by the New York State Department of Financial Services to further protect LGBTQ New Yorkers from discrimination in healthcare as the federal government continues to remove or erode these protections.
"As we look back on this year's Pride Month and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City, we must reaffirm our commitment to the LGBTQ rights movement and stand together as one with the LGBTQ community and our veterans," Governor Cuomo said. "Restoring state benefits to LGBTQ veterans who were denied honorable discharge simply for being who they are is the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show our appreciation for their service to this country. New York continues to lead the way on equality and justice, and as communities across this nation are rallying for urgent reforms we must continue to build on our progress including by repealing the discriminatory 'walking while trans' statute that invariably hurts transgender people of color."
Throughout this weekend, in celebration of Pride in New York and the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in New York City, landmarks across the state are illuminated in honor of Pride Month and the LGBTQ community. These include One World Trade Center, Pershing Square Viaduct, Kosciuszko Bridge, Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Whiteface Lake Placid Olympic Center, SUNY Central Administration Building, State Education Building, Alfred E. Smith Building, Niagara Falls and State Fair Main Gate and Exposition Center.
Applications Open for Restoration of Honor Act
Rolling applications are open for veterans who were denied an honorable discharge because of their sexual orientation or gender identity to have their New York State veterans' benefits restored. Signed by the Governor last November, the Restoration of Honor Act restores benefit eligibility for veterans who received less than honorable discharges as a result of military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, or post-traumatic stress disorder as well as because of other exclusionary policies such as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". These discharges impact veterans' lives even when they return home and often make it difficult or impossible to access many veterans' benefits. The Restoration of Honor Act makes New York a national leader in restoring the benefits of veterans who received less than honorable discharges either because of these traumas or because of their LGBTQ identity.
Guidance Outlining Insurers' Responsibilities Under New York Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression or Transgender Status
DFS issued guidance to insurers via circular letter outlining their responsibilities under recent New York State regulation related to non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or transgender status and preventive care and screenings. In the circular letter issued today, DFS reminded insurers that New York State law and regulation continues to prohibit issuers from discriminating against individuals based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status. DFS will monitor compliance with these non-discrimination requirements, including during market conduct exams. In addition, the Department will take action against an issuer for any failure to adhere to all statutory and regulatory prohibitions against discrimination.
In addition, DFS issued an updated guide to help transgender New Yorkers understand their health insurance rights for gender-affirming care.
Throughout his time in office, Governor Cuomo has been a national leader in championing LGBTQ rights and has fought back against the federal government's ongoing attacks against the LGBTQ community, including the military's ban of transgender soldiers and the rollback of healthcare protections for LGBTQ people. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo signed legalized gestational surrogacy into law, helping LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with infertility grow their families. Last year, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act ,legislation banning the deplorable practice of conversion therapy, and the overdue gay and trans panic defense ban. This month, we celebrate the ninth anniversary since Governor Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act, when New York became the first large state in the nation to enact marriage equality.
'Walking While Trans' Statute
At the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Gala in February, Governor Cuomo announced his support for repealing New York Penal Law Section 240.37, also known as the "Walking While Trans" statute, so that people will no longer be targeted for who they are or what they look like. Under this outdated, overly broad, and discriminatory loitering statute, transgender women, particularly transgender women of color, have been disproportionately policed for innocent and lawful conduct, such as standing on the sidewalk or going about their daily lives.