Gender Amendment Back on General Election Ballot

In May 2024, many New Yorkers were encouraged when a trial court judge ordered the misleadingly-named Equal Rights Amendment to be removed from New York’s 2024 general election ballot. Unfortunately, on June 18, an appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and ruled that this dangerous and misguided amendment may appear on the November ballot. A further appeal to the New York Court of Appeals is expected.

The court decisions about the proposed Equal Rights Amendment center on procedural matters. In Byrnes v. The Senate of the State of New York, the trial court held that the process by which the Legislature had passed the amendment violated the New York State Constitution. However, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department ruled that the Byrnes lawsuit had been filed too late. Therefore, the Appellate Division did not even address the question of whether the Constitution had been violated.

Barring a reversal by the New York Court of Appeals, the Equal Rights Amendment will now appear on the ballot in November. The Equal Rights Amendment[1] (Bill S.108-A-Krueger/A.1283-Seawright) would ban discrimination based on “sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy.” In other words, the proposed amendment is anti-life, anti-religious liberty, and pro-LGBT. Furthermore, the amendment is not directed only at the state, but at individuals and private entities as well.

If this amendment passes, and if a law is passed to govern its enforcement, here are some realistic scenarios that could result:

  • If a father of three daughters tells a school administrator that he is uncomfortable with a teenaged boy who identifies as “transgender” stripping naked in the girls’ locker room, that school administrator might tell him that the boy is allowed to use the girls’ locker room because the New York State Constitution forbids “discrimination” based on gender identity.

  • If a 5’5”, 130-pound female athlete tells her varsity sports coach that it is unfair that she has to compete against an opponent who is a 6’4”, 210-pound male who claims to be a girl, her coach might tell her that she has no recourse. Under the New York Constitution, that 6’4”, 210-pound male would have every right to compete in girls’ sports.

  • If a faith-based hospital declines to provide so-called “gender reassignment” surgeries or abortions at any stage of pregnancy, it may be sued and found to have violated the Equal Rights Amendment.

  • If a future New York State Legislature seeks to pass laws to address the three situations outlined above, those laws will almost certainly be held unconstitutional under the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Appellate Division’s decision is disappointing, and a reversal by the New York Court of Appeals is (unfortunately) unlikely. The Legislature should follow the process required by the Constitution if it wishes to pass a constitutional amendment; it should not bypass that process for political reasons.

When it comes to social issue after social issue, the state of New York is like a freight train traveling 100 miles per hour in the wrong direction. It is bad enough that our laws already accommodate falsehoods about gender, jeopardize the health and safety of women and girls, and leave unborn children at the mercy of the abortion industry. New York does not need to make matters worse by polluting the Constitution with these anti-Christian policies.

[1]  The Equal Rights Amendment is sometimes referred to as the Parent Replacement Act or the Equality Amendment. It could also be called the Gender Amendment.


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