Your 2018 State of the State address was inspiring. It is a progressive rallying call in an age of regressive nationalism and fake conservatism. My fellow advocates and I eagerly anticipated each and every word you said. The words were compelling. So impactful that I want to read them back to you, to explain why we were so bitterly disappointed by them.
Today marks the eighth time that I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the State of the State.”
Those of us hoping to hear mention of the Child Victims Act (CVA) were doing so for the 12th consecutive year and had our highest hopes yet that you would muster the political leadership and moral courage to include the CVA in your address. You went on to say
The history books will show that thanks to the actions of the officials assembled here today, our state has made unprecedented progress.” “. . . we are once again the nation’s beacon for social progress.” “. . . the record says that . . . we have a fairer criminal justice system. . .”
After 12 years of lobbying Albany for reform that would protect victims rather than perpetrators, this statement rang somewhat hollow to us.
We have vindicated the promise of progressive government. Because progressive government requires citizen confidence and management competence. Progressive leaders must be dreamers and doers; visionaries and achievers.”
Dreamers and doers do not sideline legislation without hearings, debate or even a single floor vote like the Republican-controlled NY Senate has consistently done with the CVA unless perhaps they are dreaming about campaign contributions!
. . . we have the old challenges of discrimination and sexism that have plagued society for years but have recently been exposed for their prevalence and virulence.”
The #MeToo revolution filled our front pages and nightly newscasts in 2017 with stories of men who are being unmasked and finally held accountable for their sexual predations, often enabled by the help of complicit organizations.
Governor Cuomo, you eloquently spoke of New York State’s responsibility to change the culture that has allowed this to go on for far too long.
Society has rightly expressed its outrage. But outrage is not enough. Enlightened government must seize the moment to attack these social diseases that are long institutionalized and culturalized and end them once and for all. . . .We must acknowledge it, we must stamp it out, and we must stamp it out here and now.”
” We cannot, we must not let those things happen in the great State of New York.”
Can you justify how this does not also apply to survivors who were sexually abused as children? Maybe at the hands of uncles, teachers, coaches or clergy, rather than celebrities? And what of those institutions that cover up the sexual abuse of children, protect the abusers and spend millions of dollars lobbying NY State politicians to block even the public discussion of the Child Victims Act?
Our country is finally taking a long look in the mirror as to how we treat women, and we are disgusted with what we see. We should be. Our challenge is to now turn society’s revulsion into reform. Carpe diem, to seize the day. To learn, to grow, to change. That’s what we did with gun violence after Sandy Hook, that’s what we did with sexual assault on college campuses, that’s what we should do now after the exposure of the abuse of the women in this society. New York should lead the way once again. And we will.”
Not only does New York not lead the way by reforming laws protecting hidden predators, but we also share with Alabama, Michigan, and Mississippi the honor of having the most predator-friendly and victim penalizing statute of limitations in the country.
How then can you, in all good conscience Governor, possibly reconcile your statements with the reality that New York State continues to deny justice to the most vulnerable in our society while allowing known child molesters to prey upon our children today and continue to do so tomorrow?
Let New York State stand and say we are not the state of denial – we acknowledge the longstanding bias and abuse against women – and New York says it stops, it stops now, and we will show you the way forward for other governments and industry to follow and that is the New York way.“
The people of the great state of New York are mostly unaware of what the Senate Republican leadership is doing to block the CVA, or that they do it at the behest of lobbyists hired by deep-pocketed institutions more concerned with their own reputations and financial protection then protecting our children. Otherwise, those representatives would not be returning to Albany next term. No wonder there have been no hearings, debates, discussion or expert testimony of any kind in the NY Senate, and why Senator Flanagan, its leader, won’t even meet with advocates on the subject.
. . . our legislators understand . . . that in gridlock everone loses. And they understand that government is about doing good things for people, and moving the state forward.”
Those of us who are aware of this obstruction find it impossible to believe New York continues to ignore the safety of our vulnerable children while protecting those who harm them and will continue to harm them until the politicians stonewalling the CVA can find their consciences.
Governor, don’t just say the right thing. Do the right thing. Show the political leadership you have shown countless other times and throw your whole-hearted support behind the Child Victims Act. Help it see the light of day on the New York State Senate floor, so the people can decide.
Our tolerance for the ongoing injustice is repugnant to our position as a progressive government. . . .We have been too complacent about the suffering of the powerless and voiceless. That is the truth.
We must act with a new urgency to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers, New Yorkers who have been too long neglected.
We should hold ourselves to a higher standard. It is our obligation as a caring people, a compassionate society, . . . That is our job. . . .We must do more and we must do better.”
Amen, Governor Cuomo, Amen!