The Women’s Equality Story Sheldon Silver Won’t Tell
One of a legislative leader’s most important responsibilities is to build bipartisan bridges that carry life-changing legislation to New Yorkers. This session, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver chose to burn those bridges in a reprehensible attempt to convince voters that the Assembly Republican Conference doesn’t value the vibrant dreams and valuable achievements of New York State’s ten million women.
He won’t be successful.
Earlier this year, I co-sponsored nine women’s equality bills in the Assembly to codify equal pay for equal work and to provide women with strengthened protections against violence, abuse and discrimination. These bills enjoyed sweeping support on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of our state legislature.
Despite well-publicized agreement, Speaker Silver refused to bring these bills to the floor for individual votes. Instead, he introduced them in an omnibus package that tied them to controversial legislation that sought to expand the scope of late-term abortions. Most of my Republican and a few of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate and Assembly disagreed with offering unfettered access to partial-birth abortions, so we voted against the measure.
Even after the Senate passed the nine women’s equality bills that I sponsored in the Assembly, Speaker Silver remained obstinate. His goal was never to protect New York’s women. He merely wanted to earn more capital for the campaign trail so that his downstate Democratic machine could manufacture mistruths about where Republicans stand on women’s equality.
Shrewd, calculating politicians like Silver can distort facts, but they can’t change history. In addition to sponsoring the nine women’s equality bills, I attended a rally held by Assemblywoman and women’s equality advocate Amy Paulin (D, Westchester) to raise awareness for human trafficking victims and to call on majority leadership to hasten passage of the agreed-upon provisions. Later, Paulin lamented in a Newsday article that state democratic leaders wanted a standoff over women’s equality. “They want the issue,” she said, meaning they assumed they could peddle the lack of agreement as a campaign issue this fall.
Silver has clearly underestimated the intelligence and democratic spirit of our electorate in New York. My opponent in my re-election bid for the 126th Assembly District has gladly accepted Speaker Silver’s endorsement and financial support, despite the well-publicized findings that the Speaker used taxpayer dollars to cover up allegations of rape and sexual abuse by female staffers against domineering members of his delegation.
Silver’s candidate is running on, of all things, a women’s equality platform.