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League of Women Voters hosts Walk for Equality in Olean

This story was originally published by Olean Times Herald.

The League of Women Voters of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties hope about 50 people who walked for equality in Olean will take the message they heard to the polls this November.

A launch event on Saturday to bring awareness to an amendment to the New York State Constitution was held with supporters from Cattaraugus, Erie, Allegany and Chautauqua counties walking from Jamestown Community College to Lincoln Park in Olean.

The event was one of five across the state to kick off awareness of the amendment that seeks to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s ethnicity, national origin, disability, age, sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, reproductive health care and autonomy.

Making note of March being Women’s History Month, Steve Cocca spoke about Olean’s significance in the Suffragette Movement. Cocca noted that Harriet Stanton Blatch, daughter of suffragette movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, visited the city to pass the torch. An historical marker stands in her honor at Lincoln Park, sponsored by the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter, where Cocca encouraged others to continue “carrying the torch of the suffragette movement.”

Sharon Turano of the LWV reminded rally-goers work against discrimination has become a human rights issue.

“If you or someone you care about is a racial minority, if you or someone you care about is from a different country, if you or someone you care about has faced discrimination due to age, disability, religious beliefs, if you or someone you care about is part of the LGBTQIA community, or if you or someone you care about is struggling with reproductive health needs, vote yes for the NYS ERA,” Turano said.

Michael Kelley discussed ways people may have been discriminated against.

“Equal rights is equal protection under the law, but it goes beyond that,” Kelley said.

“The law is step one; the rest is with us — the law is only a paper product unless we begin to live it,” he said.

How to get more information about voting, how to register to vote and where to cast ballots was discussed by Vicki Cocca, who said that information is available at or

Other voting information sources are or for the state amendment and other state information, as well as for National League news.

LWV members will next take their message to area events, group meetings and other activities. Reach out to [email protected] for planned events or to plan an activity.