NYS Division of Human Rights Applauds Federal Court Decision Upholding State’s LGBTQ+ Protections

December 16, 2021

New York State Division of Human Rights Acting Commissioner Maria Imperial issued the following statement in response to a federal court ruling upholding the agency’s authority to enforce protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.

“We are pleased with the Court’s decision to dismiss this claim. The New York State Human Rights Law makes clear that a New Yorker’s sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be a barrier to accessing public places, services and businesses,” said Acting Commissioner Maria Imperial. “We thank the office of New York State Attorney General Letitia James for their vigorous defense of the law. The Division of Human Rights remains committed to shielding LGBTQ+ New Yorkers from unlawful discrimination and holding bad actors accountable for their discriminatory behavior.”

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal advocacy organization that has initiated lawsuits challenging LGBTQ+ protections across the United States, filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of an Elmira-based wedding photographer against the Division and the Attorney General in April 2021. The photographer claimed that the potential enforcement of the New York State Human Rights Law’s prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination violated her constitutional rights.

In his ruling, Download PdfUS District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. dismissed the photographer's claims, writing that New York State "has a compelling interest in ensuring that individuals have equal access to publicly available goods and services."

New Yorkers can learn more about the Human Rights Law or report bias and discrimination by contacting the New York State Division of Human Rights at 1-888-392-3644 or visiting Opens in a new windowhttps://dhr.ny.gov.