State Senator Thomas K. Duane represents New York's 29th State Senatorial District, which includes the Upper West Side, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, Greenwich Village, and parts of the East Side, including the East Village, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and Waterside Plaza. First elected to the State Senate in 1998, he became the Senate's first openly-gay and first openly HIV-positive member. Prior to his election to the State Senate, Duane served for seven years in the New York City Council.
Senator Duane is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health. In this role Senator Duane is committed to promoting sound health care policy and quality, affordable health care for all New Yorkers. He is also member of the Senate Codes; Children and Families, Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation; Finance; Mental Health and Rules committees.
In his work on these committees and on the floor of the Senate, Senator Duane is a strong and effective advocate for those New Yorkers who normally do not have a voice in the halls of government. He fights for the rights of tenants and for the availability of affordable housing; is a defender of a woman's right to choose; committed to full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered New Yorkers; a strong voice for sexual abuse survivors, an activist for parks and open space and protecting the environment; a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS and the terrible stigma and misunderstandings that surround this public health problem; and is tireless in his efforts to make sure that New York City is no longer short-changed in allocations of State funding for education, transportation, and other services. He is also a strong supporter of legislative, governmental, and campaign finance reform.
During his time in the Senate, Duane's accomplishments include spearheading the bi-partisan passage of many noteworthy bills that have now been signed into law, including the Marriage Equality Act, Family Health Care Decisions Act, Midwifery Modernization Act, Organ Donor Electronic Signature Act, Palliative Care Information Act, Dignity for All Students Act, Intimate Partners Adoption Act, provisions allowing sex trafficking victims to vacate their criminal convictions, and landmark HIV testing and clean syringe access legislation.
Earlier in his tenure, Senator Duane led the fight for passage of the Work Study Internship bill, which allows public assistance recipients to fulfill their workfare requirements at schools they attend so they can pursue an education; the Hate Crimes Protection Act, that increases penalties and requires statewide tracking of hate crimes; Timothy's Law, a comprehensive piece of legislation which requires health insurance companies to provide mental health parity so that those suffering from mental health illnesses receive comprehensive coverage and treatment; Manny's Law, which requires hospitals to disclose to indigent patients the availability of New York State funds to cover the cost of medical treatment; Bridget's Law, which mandates that a person who makes good faith efforts to protect a child against abuse shall not be penalized in child custody hearings, and the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), which added the term "sexual orientation" to the list of specifically protected characteristics in various State laws. Unfortunately, New Yorkers of transgendered experience were not explicitly referenced in SONDA. Senator Duane is continuing the fight to ban discrimination for all New Yorkers and is the prime sponsor of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).
As a former Ranking Minority Member of both the Senate Codes and Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections Committee, Senator Duane fights for reform in New York's criminal laws, such as repealing the draconian Rockefeller Drug laws and the restoration of parole. Senator Duane is a staunch advocate for humane prison conditions and works to ensure that inmates housed in New York Correctional Facilities are treated fairly and receive proper medical and mental health care. Senator Duane takes this role seriously, annually visiting several of New York's correctional facilities.
In his home district, Senator Duane is in the forefront in the fight against over-development and a strong proponent of neighborhood self-determination and involvement in urban planning. He works to reduce traffic congestion, improve the quality of the lives of his constituents, and ensure safe streets. His number one priority is to help the thousands of his constituents every year who face eviction, harassment, or have difficulty getting public assistance, and to try to make New York a better place to live in ways great and small.
A resident of Chelsea since 1976, Duane was elected to four terms as Male Democratic District Leader in the 64th Assembly District beginning in 1982. Duane also served for seven years on his local community board. Born in 1955 at the old French Hospital on 30th Street in Chelsea, Duane was raised in Queens, and is a lifelong New Yorker. He attended Lehigh University, where he earned a degree in Urban Studies and American Studies.