East End women like to be equal

East End women rallied in Albany Tuesday | courtesy Jennifer Maertz
East End women rallied in Albany Tuesday | courtesy Jennifer Maertz

A consortium of East End women took a bus trip to Albany June 4 to rally in support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new 10-point plan addressing women’s rights.

Among the highlights of the governor’s proposal, announced on Tuesday, are pay equality, ending workplace harassment, ending discrimination against victims of domestic violence and codifying federal abortion rights granted in the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade.

In a recent op-ed in The Huffington Post, Mr. Cuomo focused foremost on workplace issues, including pay equality (New York women earn just 85 percent of what men earn for the same job) and lagging promotions received by New York women who have children. The act also closes a loophole that currently prevents women who work for employers with fewer than four employees from filing sexual harassment cases. The bill would also prevent landlords from turning away female-headed households as tenants on the basis of the source of their income.

Among those on the bus to Albany were East End members of Eleanor’s Legacy, a group devoted to continuing the work of progressive first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, members of East End Democratic Women and members of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.

New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County and senate Republicans have been working to oppose the governor’s plan since long before it was unveiled Tuesday, primarily due to its support of Roe vs. Wade, though a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday shows that 67 percent of New Yorkers are in favor of having New York law reflect that Supreme Court decision.

Mr. Skelos’s spokeswoman told The New York Times earlier this week that the majority leader would not allow a vote on the abortion portion of the act, placing other, less controversial women’s rights issues in jeopardy.

Jennifer Maertz, a Rocky Point lawyer who is currently waging a Democratic primary for the North Fork’s open state assembly seat, helped lead the East End contingent at the rally. She said in an email to supporters early this week that, despite the political risks, the full plan was worth fighting for.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to rally together in support of our Governors Women’s Equality Agenda -ALL 10 POINTS!” she wrote. “Let’s make sure that no point gets left behind in our State Legislature.”

More information on the New York Women’s Equality Coalition, which helped to draft the bill, is available here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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