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Cuomo extends transgender anti-discrimination effort

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks during a news conference in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany on June 25, 2015. Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will sidestep the State Legislature to extend anti-discrimination protections to transgender New Yorkers, a state official said Thursday.

Cuomo was set to unveil his intentions to use an executive order to implement the changes at the fall dinner of the Empire State Pride Agenda Thursday night in Manhattan. In effect, Cuomo would include gender identity among the definitions of sex and disability that are already covered by the state's nondiscrimination laws.

"We're creating a new protected class in New York," said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity because the policy hadn't been released officially. A leading gay, lesbian and transgender civil rights group hailed the move.

"This critically important step by Governor Cuomo is not only consistent with case law, but is the moral choice to protect thousands of transgender New Yorkers and visitors," said Chad Griffin, president of Human Rights Watch.

The Democratic-led Assembly has routinely passed a bill that would extend discrimination protections to transgender individuals. The Republican-controlled Senate has not.

Cuomo's executive order would closely follow the outlines of the bill, a source said.

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