23 May 2011

Transgender Group Honors Former Governor

Yesterday the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund honored former Governor David Paterson. 

During his final year in office, he signed an executive order mandating some protections for transgender people in the workplace and in other areas.

Because he didn't serve a full term as Governor, and because he became Governor only because Eliot Spitzer resigned in the wake of a scandal, some say that Governor Paterson will be only a footnote in history.  However, I think that even if he doesn't become an icon, I think his time in office will be studied.  For one thing, he actually made more and greater efforts to advance the rights of transgenders, as well as others who have experienced discrimination.  For another, he did that at the same time he was cutting the State's budget. 

Now, I'm not an expert in these matters.  But I do believe that he is one of the few office-holders, if not the only one, in recent history who tried to expand civil rights at the same time he was shrinkng the budget of his government.  Most of the small-government conservatives (at least the ones I know about) see civil rights legislation as giving "privilege" to particular groups of people, and of costing the government--and society as a whole--lots of money not only to enforce the legislation, but also from the missed economic opportunities they claim to be the result of such legislation.

Of course, some will point out--rightly--that Patterson did what he did when he had nothing to lose (politically, anyway).  By the time he signed the executive order, he had already announced that he wouldn't stand for re-election.  Well, maybe there's another moral to that story.

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