Saturday, January 1, 2011

Have a Happy New Year -- You earned it

Reflecting on this past year -- my first as executive director -- I'm inspired by the strength shown by our community. We accomplished a lot in a very challenging year, but only because we had our community -- and that means you -- on our side. You helped us achieve things people said were impossible.

Thanks to you, we saw the passage of the landmark Dignity for All Students Act, during a heartbreaking time when it became all too clear that the needs of LGBT youth in public schools were not being met. Because of your advocacy, Governor Paterson's executive order preventing discrimination based on gender identity and expression in the state's workforce brought New York's transgender community one step closer to full civil rights. We secured resources from our state government for LGBT health and human services all across the state. Finally, our community's voice rang out loud and clear in the recent elections showing both incoming and incumbent politicians that there's a new political calculus: you can't be seen as anti-LGBT and achieve victory in statewide elected office here in New York.

All this happened because of you. You volunteered, you engaged your legislators, you voted and you advocated for our rights. Though there were some disappointments this year, too, our community stuck together and stood by us. You are the reason we can promise to keep doing this work until we win.

And with you by our side as we ring in the New Year, we will continue our path of progress. In his inaugural address earlier today, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke of the need for New York's citizens to be reengaged in their government. We at the Pride Agenda, and indeed the LGBT community, are already ahead of the curve in this regard; connecting people who believe in equality and justice to government has been and will continue to be a cornerstone of our work.

Welcome, 2011. Today, a new state government comes into office in Albany, and while many pundits focus on the lawmakers, I want to thank you, our activists and supporters. Together we will work harder than ever to cover more ground and build support all over the state, in both parties, among business leaders, people of faith and our union sisters and brothers. You keep making it happen, and I enter the new year filled with optimism about the great things that together we will be able to accomplish toward a more just Empire State.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Ross D. Levi
Executive Director
Empire State Pride Agenda

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