Liberal Column

State action key to resisting Trump administration

/ The Daily Orange

We can — and must — make our voices heard and our actions seen.

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, New York state has continued to stand strong. Gov. Andrew Cuomo shared a message with students at every one of the 64 State University of New York campuses, saying, “As long as you are here, you are New Yorkers. You are members of our community, and we will stand up for you.”

The message echoed the open letter Cuomo posted on Facebook just four days after the election, in which he touted the state as a “progressive capital of the nation.”

New York State Legislator Patrick Burke, who represents Buffalo, Niagara Falls and the surrounding areas, also took a stand to the hate and divisiveness sparked by the election. Burke recently introduced the Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Childhood Endangerment — PENCE, for short — to combat Vice President-Elect Mike Pence’s proposed gay conversion therapy.

With activism inspired by the campus walkouts earlier this month, students at Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry can continue on the path for inclusivity that legislators like Cuomo and Burke have started.

At its core, the “Sanctuary Campus” walkout was about declining to assist in any searches for or removal of undocumented students on campus. But the mentality behind sanctuary campuses goes beyond just immigration stances. This attitude extends to all people with marginalized identities and speaks to the need for all students to continue fighting for each other and our country, no matter who the president is.

Students at SU and SUNY-ESF can use this movement, which was sparked as a response to the election, to echo the sentiments that Cuomo and other legislators have expressed. Along with continuing to protect undocumented immigrants from federal authorities, students should continue to resist the homophobia and xenophobia of Trump and Pence in any way that they can. It is absolutely necessary to stop a nationwide regression on the social issues that have seen so much progress over the past eight years.

Trump’s policies against undocumented immigrants are well-known, but Pence’s aren’t as apparent. When he ran for Congress in 2000, Pence proposed transferring any HIV-AIDS prevention funding toward gay conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is “counseling and psychotherapy to attempt to eliminate individuals’ sexual desires for members of their own sex,” according to the American Psychological Association.

New York State Legislator Burke’s not-so-subtle reference to the vice president-elect would ban gay conversion therapy for minors within Erie County. Currently, five states and Washington, D.C. ban the practice, and although this bill would only affect a small portion of the country, it represents a greater message to the incoming presidential administration that policies like those supported by Pence will not be tolerated in many places.

Conservatives are often the ones waving around their copies of the 10th Amendment — which reserves powers not delegated to the federal government to the states — and lambasting the chipping away of states’ rights. But it is liberals who must strengthen their efforts at the state level moving forward.

Whether through legislation like the PENCE bill or moves by private groups in making SU a sanctuary campus, it is clear we are not simply at the mercy of President-elect Trump.

Cole Jermyn is a sophomore environmental resource engineering major at SUNY-ESF. He can be reached at cdjermyn@syr.edu and followed on Twitter @Cjermyn8.

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