2024 NYS Equal Rights Amendment

THE ISSUE: The New York State Legislature has adopted a proposed constitutional amendment -- the so-called “Equal Rights Amendment” (ERA). The ERA is scheduled to appear as Proposition 1 this November 2024 on our statewide ballot. However, on May 7th a State Supreme Court Justice ruled that the legislature did not follow explicit procedures to amend the state constitution when it adopted Prop 1 and ordered the proposal stricken from the ballot. The State will likely appeal this decision directly to the Court of Appeals under an accelerated schedule for argument. A final legal decision is not likely until mid-June. In the meantime, we should continue our efforts to inform voters about the negative consequences should the amendment be adopted.

Proponents portray this amendment as required to protect abortion rights in New York. Abortion was legalized in New York in 1970 and is not under any genuine threat of modification or repeal. Further, the 2019 Reproductive Health Act greatly expanded abortion rights in state law. Moreover, New York’s Constitution and numerous state laws already protect all persons from discrimination. Appendix I contains the language of the ERA.

So why is the ERA being placed before the voters this year? Simple: Partisan Democrats think by falsely portraying abortion rights as under threat they will inspire enhanced voter turnout for their side. It is a cynical move, but one with alarming implications.

The broad and ambiguous language of the ERA would create new constitutional rights and likely become the subject of litigation by activist groups seeking to create new “rights” inconsistent with the views of most New Yorkers. Among these new “rights” are “gender identity” and “gender expression” covering “all persons” including minor children. The ERA would grant minors the right to medical transgender procedures without parental consent. As a new constitutional “right”, the ERA would override any existing statutes limiting medical interventions to minors. Schools would likely be banned from disclosing students becoming transgender to their parents. Indeed, parental non-disclosure is current State Education Department policy. Passage of this amendment would also mean that biological males could assert a new constitutional “right” to participate on female sports teams, jeopardizing the fairness of such contests.

New York’s Department of Education released a legal update in 2023 entitled “Creating a Safe, Supportive, and Affirming School Environment for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students” setting up an adversarial relationship between parents and children whereby children of any age can determine if their parents should be involved with their decision to transition. The Education Department advises school administrators to inform parents of their child’s purported desire to change genders but only if the child grants permission for the school to do so.

The ERA will also have a chilling effect on free speech for religious organizations or charitable groups providing medical, educational, or other services including adoptions and foster care. Already, states such as Massachusetts and Oregon have denied religious couples the ability to adopt or foster children because their moral beliefs may conflict with transgender ideology.

Finally, the amendment would also establish constitutional protections for “reverse discrimination” programs, such as reparations for slavery or programs establishing quotas for admissions to academic institutions or participation in government grants or contracting.

The ERA is not what its sponsors would have you believe. The amendment is unnecessarily vague and subject to judicial interpretation. One thing is clear however: the sponsors intend to dramatically curtail rights of parents over their minor children in their efforts to enhance transgender rights.

WHAT VOTERS SHOULD KNOW: Concerned New Yorkers formed a Ballot Proposition Committee to oppose Proposition 1. The Coalition to Protect Kids-NY (CTPK) aims to educate voters on the unintended consequences of the ERA. See www.protectkidsny.com for additional information.

CTPK conducted a poll in October 2023 and found that without being fully informed there is 63% support and 24% opposition to the amendment, with 13% undecided. However once informed, support plummeted to 29% with 49% against and 22% undecided. A recent Siena College poll asked New York voters their view on whether biological boys identifying as transgender should be permitted to compete on girls’ sports teams. By a 66% to 27% margin New Yorkers said no.

THE STRATEGY:

  1. Litigation: On October 30, 2023, Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes filed a civil action against the state due to the failure of Governor Hochul and the legislature to follow explicit procedures for adoption of constitutional amendments. As mentioned above, on May 7th Supreme Court (Livingston County) agreed with Assemblywoman Byrnes and struck the proposition from the ballot. We now expect accelerated consideration of this case before the state Court of Appeals. We cannot assume victory and must continue our efforts to inform voters about this issue.

  2. If our side loses in the Court of Appeals, the amendment will be on the ballot this November. Hochul and Democrats will falsely characterize the amendment as necessary to protect the right to abortion. CTPK seeks to educate voters -- and especially parents -- through communications and political outreach.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Spread the Word: Please circulate the messaging contained in Appendix II. More information can be found in CTPK’s website www.protectkidsny.com.

Donations: CTPK is a NYS Board of Elections registered Ballot Proposition Committee and is allowed to accept unlimited funds from all individuals and entities, including, but not limited to Corporations, LLCs/PLLCs and Political Action Committees.

APPENDIX I – TEXT OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT (PROPOSITION 1 ON 2024 November ballot)

The text in BOLD capital letters is new; the text in yellow highlight (strike through in brackets [ ] ) is old law and will be omitted.

§ 11. A. 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, ETHNICITY, NATIONAL ORIGIN, AGE, DISABILITY, creed [or], religion, OR SEX, INCLUDING SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, GENDER EXPRESSION, PREGNANCY, PREGNANCY OUTCOMES, AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE AND AUTONOMY, be subjected to any discrimination in [his or her] THEIR 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, PURSUANT TO LAW.

B. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL INVALIDATE OR PREVENT THE ADOPTION OF ANY LAW, REGULATION, PROGRAM, OR PRACTICE THAT IS DESIGNED TO PREVENT OR DISMANTLE DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF A CHARACTERISTIC LISTED IN THIS SECTION, NOR SHALL ANY CHARACTERISTIC LISTED IN THIS SECTION BE INTERPRETED TO INTERFERE WITH, LIMIT, OR DENY THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ANY PERSON BASED UPON ANY OTHER CHARACTERISTIC IDENTIFIED IN THIS SECTION.

Appendix II Messaging: Proposed NYS State Constitutional Amendment: Equal Rights Amendment

  • New York State’s government seeks more authority than parents in making medical decisions for their children.

  • Partisan policymakers will portray this amendment as necessary to protect the right to abortion in New York. Abortion was legalized in New York in 1970 and this law is not under any genuine threat of modification or repeal.

  • New York’s Constitution and numerous state laws already protect all persons from discrimination. However, the broad language contained in the amendment would create new constitutional rights which will be the subject of litigation and efforts by activist groups to create new “rights” not consistent with the views of most New Yorkers.

  • Among these new “rights” are “gender identity” and “gender expression” and the language would cover “all persons” including minor children. If adopted by the voters, the ERA would grant minor children the right to medical transgender interventions without parental consent or even notification.

  • The NYS Department of Education released guidance in 2023 entitled “Creating a Safe, Supportive, and Affirming School Environment for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students” which essentially sets up an adversarial relationship between parents and children whereby children of any age can determine if their parents should be involved with their decision to transition. The Education Department advises school administrators to not inform parents of their child’s purported desire to change genders.

  • The ERA will have a chilling effect on free speech for religious organizations or charitable groups providing medical, educational, or other services including adoptions and foster care.

  • The ERA would also establish constitutional protections for “reverse discrimination” programs, such as reparations for slavery or programs establishing quotas for admissions to academic institutions or participation in government grants or contracting.

  • A ballot proposition committee has been formed to oppose Proposition 1. The group – www.protectkidsny.com –is seeking to organize grass-roots opposition to this proposal. Please circulate their website among all your social media channels so that voters may be informed as to this dangerous proposal.

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