Over the weekend, The New York Times praised the legislation introduced recently by congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., with 199 co-signers, banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Times generously reported in the same editorial that “the fight for fair employment rights is already a generation old, pioneered in the House by two New York democrats, Bella Abzug and Edward Koch.”
When Bella and I co-sponsored that legislation in 1974, we could only attract two other members of the House to join us. But that was 36 years ago.
It has taken far too long to get this far. Today, only 20 states in the Union protect gays and lesbians from being arbitrarily fired simply on the basis of their sexual identity.
When I first took office in 1978 as mayor of New York City, within the first 30 days of my term, I issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination by the government on the basis of sexual orientation.
After a grueling battle lasting eight years, I signed into law legislation prohibiting such discrimination in the private sector as well, one of the hallmarks of my three terms as mayor. Victor Hugo stated it best: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
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