Good evening Mr. Chairman, members of the Legislature and all guests here this evening.  My name is Jeff Rindler and I am the Executive Director of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.  I am speaking tonight in favor of the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity at places of public accommodation, resort or amusement.

I am somewhat saddened and dismayed that we even need a law to do what is morally and ethically right, but these are the times we live in.

How many of you have ever walked into a store, or an ice cream parlor and not been served because of how you looked…or dressed…or spoke?  This is what many in our community face…it mostly goes unreported…

Why would anyone report this when there is no real protection?  This law has been kicking around for over a year, and the message that it sends is this…”you are not important”…so why should anyone even try to report it?

In the Mid-Hudson region a 2015 survey showed that nearly a third of transgender and gender non-conforming people have suffered physical violence and at some point more than 75% have been verbally abused.  We have got to protect our community.

This law is important for everyone in Ulster County– not just for those of transgender experience – to know and see clearly in the law that discrimination based upon gender identity and expression is illegal.

It’s also important because this isn’t just about bathrooms – this is about being free to thrive, being free of harassment and discrimination in public, no matter your gender identity and no one should be refused entry to businesses or refused access to services because of their gender or gender identity.

It’s vital we move this ahead because there is not a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” in public accommodations and we in Ulster County need to honor and support everyone in our community.

So here’s where we stand tonight.  Either you vote to move ahead and protect all people in Ulster County or you vote to only protect those that you think are important and worthy of protection.

What side of history do we want to be on…? Over 60 percent of the New York State population lives in a city or county that protects all its people, and most have a system to set and enforce penalties including New York City, Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, and counties including Suffolk, Westchester, Albany and Tompkins.

We had the chance last year to be one of the first to pass this law…Please let us not be known as the last….