GOVERNOR PATERSON SIGNS LEGISLATION TO ELIMINATE THE USE OF “ORIENTAL” IN STATE DOCUMENTS
Governor David A. Paterson today signed legislation that will eliminate the use of the term “oriental” in reference to persons of Asian or Pacific Islander heritage in forms or preprinted documents used by State government, public authorities or municipalities. The law directs that existing forms be amended no later than January 1, 2010.
“The words we use matter. We in government recognize that what we print in official documents or forms sets an example of what is acceptable. With this legislation, we take action against derogatory speech and set a new standard,” Governor Paterson said. “The word ‘oriental’ does not describe ethnic origin, background or even race; in fact, it has deep and demeaning historical roots. I am pleased to sign this legislation and remove the phrase from preprinted forms and documents. I congratulate the work of Senator Johnson, Assemblywoman Meng and the community leaders who worked to bring this important bill to my desk.”
Senator Craig Johnson said: “Allowing derogatory and hateful language to linger in public discourse and gain legitimacy through its inclusion in official State documents is improper and inexcusable. I am proud to have partnered with Governor Paterson and Assemblywoman Meng to ensure that decency prevailed when this legislation became law.”
Assemblywoman Grace Meng said: “Thank you to all my colleagues for their support and to Governor Paterson for his vision and leadership on this historic legislation. I am especially proud that this bill was able to pass unanimously in the Assembly and the Senate. Derogatory and insensitive language, like that Senator Johnson and I are addressing with our legislation, should not be allowed to linger in official State forms. This bill will hopefully serve as an important vehicle to eliminate any future derogatory classifications of people from all ethnic backgrounds. We are all Americans regardless of our ethnic backgrounds and as such should not have to suffer being referred to in an offensive manner.”
The term “oriental” is widely considered a disparaging term, but has been used in some forms and preprinted documents issued by State government, public authorities and municipalities.
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