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Equal pay for women a priority for NY voters

A Quinnipiac University poll shows 53 percent of New Yorkers believe that Gov. Cuomo and the state Legislature should make equal pay for women their highest priority. Cuomo’s women’s equality agenda includes a ten-point proposal to achieve equal pay as well and stopping harassment in the workplace. Photo by courtesy of the Governor’s Office.
February 04, 2013
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that 53 percent of New

York voters believe that, among five policy issues likely to take center stage this session, equal pay for women should be the highest priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature, while 36 percent believe that it should be a high priority.

"That liberal shibboleth — equal pay for women — wins overwhelming support in this liberal state," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Even Republicans make it their top priority, although with less support than Democrats."

The poll, conducted between Jan. 23 and 28, surveyed 1,127 New York state voters with a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points. Pollsters asked respondents to rate the importance of several policy issues that will be put before the Legislature this session: equal pay for women; campaign finance reform; a bar exam-type test for teachers; merit pay for teachers; and longer school days or school years.

While 61 percent of Democrats polled consider equal pay for women the highest concern in the state Legislature, 41 percent of Republicans say it is the highest priority, while another 45 percent consider it a high priority.

According to the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, 72 percent of black voters polled agreed that equal pay for women was of the highest priority, while 60 percent of women agreed that it should be the highest priority.

Pictured above is Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, at podium, and other democratic senators speak at a rally in support of the governor’s women’s rights agenda. Among New York state voters, the majority agree that equal pay for women should be one of the highest priorities to both the governor and the Legislature this session. More than 280 associations across the state have signed on to support Cuomo’s women’s equality agenda. Photo by Jess String.
Support for equal pay was strongly evident in union households, where 60 percent agreed that equal pay was of the highest priority.

More than 280 associations across the state, including labor groups, business associations, civil rights organizations, medical associations and religious groups have signed on to support Cuomo's women's equality agenda, which includes pay equity.

Cuomo's ten-point proposal would include achieving equal pay, stopping sexual harassment in the workplace, allowing the recovery of attorneys' fees in employment and credit and lending cases, strengthening human trafficking laws and ending family status discrimination.

The ten-point proposal would also stop source-of-income discrimination, housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence and pregnancy discrimination.

In addition, the governor intends to protect victims of domestic violence by strengthening order-of-protection laws and protecting a woman's freedom of choice. This last component, reforming the state's abortion laws, could prove to be a contentious political battle in the coming weeks with conservative lawmakers already drawing a line in the sand. It is unclear if the governor and other advocates would be willing to adopt parts of the women's equality agenda without adopting the controversial Reproductive Health Act.

"There are religious groups and representation from labor, health care, women and families and human rights organizations that believe in improving the health, safety and economic well-being of every woman and her family in New York state through the governor's initiative," said Family Planning Advocates' President and CEO M. Tracey Brooks.

Among those groups is the New York Civil Liberties Union whose executive director Donna Lieberman said "The NYCLU is proud to join the growing list of diverse organizations that support Governor Cuomo's women's equality agenda. Together we look forward to passing this ground-breaking ten-point legislative agenda that will help break down the barriers currently impeding women's equality in New York state.

"The governor's commitment to pay equity, extending protections against sexual harassment to all of New York's workers, and protecting a woman's right to make her own private health care decisions will undoubtedly help level the playing field," said Lieberman.

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