Personal Essay by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin
Pride Month has a special place in my heart. Even though we are not able to have the usual in-person celebrations this year, this is still a time to reflect on the amazing accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community and look ahead to the work that still must be done to ensure full and complete equality.
I have worked to advance issues of importance for the LGBTQ+ community for many years and am heartened to see the progress we have made. Prior to my election to the Assembly, I advocated for the creation of the Westchester Human Rights Commission and helped spearhead the fight to include sexual orientation as a protected class in the Westchester Human Rights Law.
When I first ran for the Assembly in 2000, I publicly supported marriage equality- which was used against me by my conservative opponent. Upon my election, I became the first sitting New York legislator to publicly support marriage equality- and was overjoyed to finally be able to vote yes when it passed in 2011.
In 2012, I first introduced legislation to remove the obstacles impeding same-sex couples from starting their families in NY. The legislation was signed into law in April and will allow gestational surrogacy in New York- one of only three states where it was prohibited. It also provides clear and decisive legal procedures to ensure that children born through assisted reproduction have secure and legally-recognized parental relationships with their intended parents.
I am also the author of legislation to repeal the “walking while trans” law.
This legislation would repeal the crime of loitering for purposes of prostitution, which has been overwhelmingly used by police to target transgender women of color. This repeal is long overdue, and I am hopeful that it will pass the legislature in the next legislative session.
While I am proud of these accomplishments, it is a memory from my personal life that has most profoundly impacted me.
Shortly after my nephew came out to our family, I attended a Christmas Eve dinner with my sister-in-law. The dinner was hosted at a gay colleague’s home, and he had invited several young gay men who had nowhere to go on Christmas. They spoke about how they had been rejected by their families for being gay and could not go home. My sister-in-law and I were both extremely moved. We became determined that my nephew would never have that experience, and made sure he was supported by the entire family.
Pride Month is a time when no one has to feel rejected, and people can celebrate who they are. Everyone can come home.
I am truly honored to be your ally, and I will keep standing by your side. Happy Pride.