O’Donnell Statement Calling on NYS Comptroller to Divest Common Retirement Fund of Russian Assets

Today, Assembly Member O’Donnell sent a letter to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, requesting that in light of Russia’s recent attacks on LGBT rights, he fully divest the New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF) of all Russian assets. O’Donnell wrote in response to a new Russian law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships,” which is widely considered “an effort to suppress homosexuality and Russia’s fledgling gay rights movement” (“Gays in Russia Find No Haven, Despite Support from the West,” New York Times, August 11, 2013). As the climate worsens for LGBT Russians, O’Donnell felt compelled to speak out, writing to Comptroller DiNapoli:

These issues are very personal for me, both as a gay man and as an elected official who has fought against intolerance and bigotry in my work in the New York State Assembly. New York has made steady progress in this area, including through bills I sponsored, like the Marriage Equality Act and New York’s new anti-bullying legislation. In light of this advancement, it is particularly hard to stomach sending tax dollars—my and other New Yorkers’ tax dollars—overseas to a place that is moving backwards in this respect, where I would not only fear bullying or the disregard of my marriage to my husband, but actual violence or state-sanctioned arrest because of who I am.

For this reason, I urge you to cease future investment of any portion of the Common Retirement Fund in Russia, and to move toward the full divestment of any assets the Common Retirement Fund has in that country until this discriminatory and dangerous law has been repealed.