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Transgender rights action went too far, Flanagan says

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) on

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) on June 25, 2015, at the Capitol in Albany. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said Friday that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo overstepped his authority when he included transgender people among those who are protected by state anti-discrimination laws.

Last week Cuomo used his executive power to include transgender people in anti-discrimination measures that protect racial minorities, women, and gay men and women. The measures specifically prohibit discrimination in employment and housing, among other areas.

 For years the issue failed to become law in Albany because of opposition in the Senate’s Republican majority.

“My concern is we have co-equal branches of government,” Flanagan (R-East Northport) said Friday. “It is not so much what the issue is ... the Legislature should be included.”

Flanagan wouldn’t say if transgender people should be included in the anti-discrimination measure that carries penalties for violations of its protections.

He said Cuomo’s action could be challenged in court, but Flanagan wasn’t threatening to do so.

“I have great inherent respect for the office of the chief executive, but that power has to be used wisely ... and judiciously.”

Cuomo made the announcement at an event by the Empire State Agenda, a leading advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender rights who helped Cuomo legalize gay marriage.

“The governor exercised longstanding pre-existing executive authority to improve the lives of New Yorkers,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “He was proud to do so.”



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