New York’s biggest LGBT rights group shocks supporters by announcing closure
The biggest LGBT rights group in New York has announced it is closing because it has accomplished all its objectives.
Empire State Pride Agenda surprised supporters and allies this weekend by making the announcement, having been in operation for 25 years.
The group was founded in 1990, at a time when New York provided little legal protection for LGBT people.
However, Pride Agenda announced that following the introduction of employment protections for transgender people, it has fulfilled all its major objectives – and the Boards of Directors had voted unanimously to wind down.
Nathan Schaefer, the Pride Agenda’s Executive Director, said: “We have accomplished amazing victories as an organization and as a community since our founding in 1990.
“The strides we have made toward equality and justice have been nothing short of extraordinary.
“It has been a true honour for me to lead this organization during a time of great advancement for our community.
“I am particularly grateful for the Pride Agenda’s exceptional staff, many of whom will undoubtedly move on to apply their talents to other fronts of the LGBT rights movement.”
The group will wind down its operations across the first half of 2016, working to “identify aspects of its policy work to transition to partner LGBT organizations”.
Pride Agenda says it has “been central to over 100 legislative and policy victories for New York’s LGBT community, including adding sexual orientation protections to the state’s nondiscrimination laws, protecting LGBT youth from bullying in schools, and winning marriage equality”.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo paid tribute to the group, saying: “New York would not be the State it is today without the Empire State Pride Agenda.
“For decades, the Pride Agenda has been a premier champion of the LGBT community in New York – fighting injustice, securing and protecting equal rights, and advancing the principles of dignity and acceptance for all.
“Over the years this organization has made a difference in – and no doubt saved – countless lives.
“Together we have restored New York’s status as a progressive beacon for the nation, from securing marriage equality to helping ban transgender discrimination and bringing the end of the AIDS epidemic within reach.
“I am honoured beyond words to have fought alongside the Pride Agenda and watched its successes over the years.
“Its impact will be felt for generations to come.”
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However, many of the group’s supporters were less supportive of the decision.
Critics highlight that final ‘victory’ on trans rights has been delivered not through legislation but by executive order, which could easily be reversed under a future conservative governor.
One Facebook commenter wrote: “In other words, all of the rich white gay men are now able to marry their partners and they are no longer willing to underwrite LGBT causes now that they got what they wanted and now it’s time for them to move on. This is despite there still be unfinished business in NYS and nationwide.”
Another added: “I am greatly saddened by this decision. While LGBT rights have come a long way, there is still much more to do and maintain.
“The fight is not over. Abortion has been legal since 1973 and yet we still lobby for women’s reproductive rights in New York.
“The NAACP did not disband in 1964. I really feel that this is a stab in the back to all the amazing Trans* advocates I have met over the years on my trips up to Albany with Pride Agenda.”
Freedom to Marry, the main national group advocating for same-sex marriage, also announced its closure earlier this year.