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Women's Equality Debate Highlights Albany Hypocrisy

By Lori Lane

The final week of the 2013 Legislative Session in Albany was dominated by the controversial Women’s Equality Act. The bill, pushed by Governor Cuomo in the 11th hour of the 2013 session, faced immediate opposition due to the bill’s abortion provision. In response to the governor’s bill, the state Senate, controlled by Republicans, made it abundantly clear that they would not take up this contentious plank for a vote.

Then, the political theater began.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver decided to use this divisive issue to provide himself much needed political cover. The Speaker has been embroiled a sexual abuse and cover-up scandal that has brought his leadership into question and greatly weakened his position as Speaker, leading to speculation that his time as Albany’s longest serving Assembly Speaker is drawing to a close.

In order to deflect attention from his role in the Vito Lopez sex scandal and curry favor with members of Assembly Democratic Women’s conference, Silver refused to take up the Governor’s bill in separate sections and instead hijacked legislation intended to bolster the rights and protections of women and turned it into a political sideshow—forcing a vote in such a fashion as to leave no possibility of passing this year.

Even Gov. Cuomo himself said that ‘these nine points are historic accomplishments’ and they should be passed, and urged the Speaker to vote on each of the bill’s 10 planks individually.

Yet instead of passing momentous women’s rights legislation and end an otherwise lackluster Legislative Session on a high note, Silver and the Assembly Democrats used women’s rights as a straw man argument to score political points against Republicans across the state.

For the members of the Assembly Democrat Conference, who continually champion themselves as the state’s vanguard for women’s rights, to block the passage of 90 percent of the Women’s Equality Act to make political hay, is Albany Hypocrisy at its most infamous, and that’s without mentioning the Conference’s marked silence on Sheldon Silver’s mishandling of the Vito Lopez sex scandal and cover-up.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

JUN 25, 2013