NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — New York has added a gender-neutral option for birth certificates and other state-issued identification cards for those who wish not to specify their gender.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement at a press conference Thursday afternoon, on the 10th anniversary of the New York’s Marriage Equality Act being signed into law.
The Marriage Equality Act, signed by Gov. Cuomo on June 24, 2011 and enacted a month later, granted same-sex couples the ability to enter into civil marriages in New York.
The governor signed the Gender Recognition Act into law Thursday to conclude Thursday’s announcement.
“The Gender Recognition Act eliminates barriers that undermined the state’s health, safety, and equality of people because of their gender,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It affirms basic human dignity and it ends discrimination. It adds a gender neutral marker X as an option for birth certificates and official documents. It allows parents to change their name on birth certificates and it allows each individual to identify their own gender, not by any government designated form.”
Prior to the Gender Recognition Act’s signing, New Yorkers who wanted to change their names were required to publish their new and previous names, current address, place of birth and date of birth in a designated newspaper. Officials from the governor’s office say this potentially allowed opportunities for discrimination against transgender and nonbinary people who legally changed their names, adding that this law eliminates that.
The new law also creates a process to petition a court to change an individual’s sex designation or recognize their gender identity. The petition can also be sealed to protect against fear of reprisal or retaliation. The law also creates an easier process to change a birth certificate, and allows the use of the term “parent” for the first time.
The governor said New York is the progressive capitol of the nation, both past and present.
“It’s a different day today and we’re out and we’re about and New York is back,” Gov. Cuomo said. “New York is back, restaurants are open, and people should go out and celebrate. I declared yesterday that the COVID emergency was over, the restrictions are gone, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time because the time to enjoy each other is here.
“We’re getting ready to celebrate the July 4th weekend and I love the July 4th weekend because it forces you to stop and think about — they never said ‘we declared today as a reality,'” Gov. Cuomo said. “They said this is the goal, in essence for America, and we’ve spent 245 years trying to reach that goal. Trying to reach that promise of freedom opportunity for all equality and it’s still a work in progress. The day the Founder Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, 13 colonies still had slaves. America has always been a work in progress. It took 100 years for Blacks to achieve freedom from slavery, it took 144 years for women to have the right to vote.
“As we write the story of America, and our progress toward the goal of freedom and equality for all, each chapter begins,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It begins with the courage to change and to challenge the status quo, and that’s what is hard. It’s hard to stand up and say we can do better, we must do better, but we’re New Yorkers, and we’re proud, because when you look at the long line of marches toward equality and freedom, so many of them started right here in New York.
“Marriage equality, 10 years ago, marked a historic chapter of progress,” Gov. Cuomo said. ” Remember where we were: Marriage was not legal for non-heterosexual couples, so the nation said ‘we offer you civil unions, almost like a marriage. We offer you domestic partnership, almost like a marriage, but not exactly marriage, not full equality.’ New York said almost equal is not good enough.
“We will not accept that love between an LGTBQ couple and love between a heterosexual couple is any different,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We were right and we won and the people in this room did it. When New York does something, it’s different than when most states do something. We made the statement and then the burden fell on other states where they now had to defend their inequality.
“We won that vote, not with just Democrats, we won that vote because Republicans were strong enough to vote on principle and come across the aisle,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Those senators who then were reviled by their party for what they did, and they know they were going to be reviled and ultimately lose their seats, but they knew they stood for justice. God bless that type of elected official who will give up their office because it’s the right thing to do.
“America is a work in progress, but New York leads the way,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It’s our courage that keeps pushing for change and pushing that dream of equality, and taking that next step forward. New York state is the progressive capitol of the nation, I believe that. It’s our destiny to wage the war to make the American aspiration an American reality. And when we make New York better, we make the nation better, we make it fairer, we make it more just, we make it more sweet, we make it more inclusive.
“When New York wins, we say we believe the strongest four letter word is still love, not hate,” Gov. Cuomo said. “And after all the battles we’ve learned one thing, love wins every time.”
Gender Recognition Act
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.