Moral Monday Comes To Capitol In Albany

Sep 12, 2016

Religious and labor advocates rallied at the state capitol in Albany Monday as part of a nationwide movement known as Moral Mondays, to urge state lawmakers to take more progressive stances on issues.

The Reverend Emily McNeill, who heads the New York Labor-Religion Coalition, says her group is not as concerned about the topics promoted by evangelical right, including opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

She says instead, the groups are focusing on helping the poor, battling global warming, increasing voter participation, and rights for immigrants.

“We are called to stand up for justice and tell the truth,” McNeill said.

McNeill and around 100 others gathered at the steps of the state capitol. They later delivered a letter to lawmakers outlining their concerns. It’s part of what they call the Moral Revival, begun by Reverend William Barber of North Carolina.

The state legislature is not in session, and Governor Cuomo was in New York City for the day.

Tuesday is primary day for state legislative races, and all Senators and Assemblymembers are up for election in November.

Labor organizer Joe Paparone says he hasn’t heard much about any of these issues in campaigns for state Senate and Assembly.

“We’re looking for leaders who will take strong moral stands,” Paparone said. “We’re in a time of divisiveness and vitriol that is unseen in my lifetime.”

Paparone says the groups aren’t deterred by the lack of response so far.

“We’re not going to go away,” he said.

In the past legislative session, Governor Cuomo and lawmakers enacted some new laws that the groups support, including a phased in minimum wage increase to $15 downstate and $12.50 upstate, and partial paid family leave.