Transgender Rights Group to Honor David Paterson

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Friday April 29, 2011

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced on Thursday, April 28, that it will honor former New York Gov. David Paterson at its annual fundraiser next month in Chelsea.

"I am extremely appreciative of this tremendous honor," Paterson told EDGE in a statement. "During my time in the governor's office, I used every tool at my disposal in the fight against discrimination."

As governor, Paterson signed an executive order that banned discrimination against transgender state employees. Paterson also signed the Dignity for All Students Act, which bans harassment and discrimination against students based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, color, weight and other identities. The former governor also introduced a marriage equality bill, but the state Senate struck it down in Dec. 2009.

Even though Paterson ranks among New York's least popular governors, LGBT activists routinely hailed him as one of the country's most pro-LGBT executives.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, described Paterson as "a true leader when it comes to standing up for all New Yorkers and standing up for full equality" after he directed state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed outside New York in May 2008. TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman also applauded the former governor for supporting the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and other trans-specific issues.

"We are thrilled to honor Gov. Paterson," he said. "He is an inspiration and he honors us by attending the benefit."

For his part, Paterson stressed he remains committed to LGBT equality. "Now, as a private citizen, my resolve to see all discrimination ended is as strong as ever and my hope is to finally see long overdue marriage equality legislation pass," he added.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.