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Albany Religious Rally Part Of A National Movement

Courtesy of Labor Religion Coalition of New York State/Facebook
Rev. Kym McNair speaks about voting rights at the Moral Monday rally at the State Capitol in Albany, N.Y.

Religious and labor advocates rallied at the State Capitol 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 Labor Religion Coalition of New York State, says her group is not as concerned about the topics promoted by the 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 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.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.