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Citing Trump effect, Gov. Cuomo backs new LGBTQ protections

by Associated Press and John Paul Brammer /

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed an executive order that bans all New York state agencies and authorities from conducting business with companies that tolerate or promote discrimination.

 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses the 2018 Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Gala on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 in New York. Jason DeCrow / AP

"With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone," Cuomo said in a statement. "We will enforce our robust protections against discrimination, and continue to build on our legacy of protecting all of us, not simply some of us."

The Democrat also said he's supporting legislation that will ban the use of a "gay panic" defense in which a person charged with attacking someone attempts to blame the victim's sexual orientation for a violent reaction.

The proposal would make New York the third state in the U.S. to bar the rare defense. Illinois did so in January, and California barred it in 2014.

Cuomo said his moves are in response to the Trump administration's actions, which Cuomo said have rolled back civil rights protections, including those for members of the LGBTQ community.

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"New York will fight every action this federal administration takes that attempts to undo progress we have made," Cuomo said in a statement. "We believe America was founded on the premise of uniting people from different countries, religions, and colors, and we welcome diversity under the enlightened understanding that it is not a weakness but rather our greatest strength."

Cuomo initially announced the anti-discrimination initiatives Saturday night at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala in Manhattan.

"The Trump administration gave the attorney general a license to discriminate by interpreting 'religious liberty' protections in the federal law," he said in his HRC speech. "What that means is a business can refuse to serve LGBTQ individuals because it violates their religious beliefs. They did that. So, today I'm signing an executive order prohibiting New York state government from doing any business with any entity that discriminates against any New Yorker, period."

Cuomo then went on to announce his support for barring the "gay panic" defense, which he described as "repugnant."

"There is no Italian panic defense, or male panic defense, or Catholic panic defense or handsome panic defense. There can be no legal gay panic defense," Cuomo said to applause.

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