County Law Protects LGBT veterans

ALBANY (Sept. 14, 2017) — Democrat Andrew Joyce, a captain in the New York Army National Guard, is emerging as a leader on military and veterans issues in the Albany County Legislature.

Albany County’s Restoration of Honor Act, passed unanimously by the Legislature on Monday — the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — ensures lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender veterans that were discharged due to their sexual orientation are eligible for benefits and advocacy through the Albany County Veterans Bureau.

Joyce, a combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq, called the legislation a small measure to right a wrong.

“This policy will give our Veterans Service Bureau the information and flexibility they need to make a determination on these individual discharges and grant County-level benefits,” Joyce said Monday on the chambers’ floor. County-level benefits for veterans include the Albany County Return the Favor Program, which provides veterans discounts on certain purchases, property-tax exemptions and civil service points.

Joyce represents Legislative District 9 in Albany. “The reason I ran for office was to help veterans,” he said. Last month, multiple news stations interviewed him about the president’s military strategy in Afghanistan.

Joyce said this week that he was heartened to receive Republican support at Monday’s meeting (video here). He said the legislation promoted a broader discussion of how to help veterans.

“There’s a big difference in serving in the military and the Legislature,” Joyce said. “As a military leader, you make decisions on your own. In the Legislature, you work through committees and consensus.”

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