What Tuesday’s Elections Mean for Social Issues


Midterm elections are happening today, and the results will be pivotal in either challenging or aiding the Trump administration on various policy disputes over social issues. From abortion rights to gun control to immigration, here’s what the New York candidates stand for.


Andrew Cuomo (D) — Incumbent

Cuomo has been New York’s governor since 2011, so it’s no question that he has experience and ideas that appeal to voters. As a progressive Democrat, Cuomo has taken a liberal approach to the policy issues that are most important to citizens today. Governor Cuomo is a supporter of reproductive freedom and a woman’s right to choose. In his time in office, he has advocated for minimizing the gender pay gap and implemented legislation that outlines a paid family leave policy for working parents. He has worked to end stop-and-frisk policing in New York communities that disproportionately targets people of color and he favors decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. Cuomo also prioritizes gun safety, speaking out against assault weapons and making New York a state with the some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. On immigration, Governor Cuomo has spoken out against discrimination of immigrants and has introduced legislation to protect undocumented families.

Marcus Molinaro (R)

As the Republican challenger to Cuomo’s liberal policies, Molinaro faces obstacles in winning over a traditionally blue state, but his moderate stances may be just the way to do it. Despite being pro-life, Molinaro accepts the current law and would not want to criminalize abortion — although he does support stricter laws regarding late-term abortions. Molinaro has also spoken out in support of the LGBT community, emphasizing their civil rights to equal protection under the law and marriage rights. Molinaro appeals to conservatives with his public support of the Second Amendment, but he has expressed support for “common sense restrictions” and training teachers on identifying students who may become violent. He disagrees with the federal policy of separating undocumented families at the border, expressing that it is against his personal values as well as those of our nation.


Kirsten Gillibrand (D) — Incumbent

Senator Gillibrand has been representing New York in the Senate for nearly a decade, taking a progressive stance on the most pressing social issues. Gillibrand is endorsed by feminist groups for her support of women’s rights, including a pro-choice stance on abortion, advocating against the gender pay gap and pushing for more women in politics. Gillibrand has been a long-standing supporter of the LGBT community with her support of same-sex marriage and voting to prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity at schools and workplaces. She is also notable for her environmental policies, with her voting record showing support for renewable energy sources and conservation efforts. Senator Gillibrand has an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association, pointing to her efforts to increase gun control and make it more difficult to purchase assault weapons. She is against ICE and separating families of undocumented immigrants and has spoken out for a clearer way to earn citizenship.

Chele Farley (R)

Despite her campaign against a seasoned senator, Farley has not been highly exposed in the media in sharing her stance on many social issues voters care about. She did establish a rather moderate image upon her criticism of the GOP tax plan, citing that the bill was “bad for New York.” It is unclear where she stands on a number of issues as she has no public views on abortion, LGBT rights or gun control — all of which are serious issues to voters. Farley does have a tough stance on crime, saying that she would support legislation to permanently take voting rights from convicted rapists and murderers. The only social issue on which Farley has a clear position is immigration, where she opposes open borders due to “rapists and murderers who are destroying families” coming into the United States.

24th Congressional District Representative

John Katko (R) — Incumbent

Representative Katko is a solid conservative representing Syracuse’s congressional district. He stands to the right on most social issues such as abortion, which he believes should not be given federal funding. He believes in the effectiveness of capital punishment such as the death penalty and has proposed the idea of a task force to take on violent gangs in the district. Katko has a mixed record on environmental protections, as he supported the Keystone Pipeline but also supports the minimization of greenhouse gases. In a more moderate position than much of the GOP, Katko believes in stricter background checks to obtain guns and recently proposed a “red flag” law to confiscate guns from potentially threatening individuals. Representative Katko advocates for strict but fair immigration policy, supporting the deportation of illegal migrants back to their home countries. Although, he does not agree with all of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, such as separating families along the southern border.

Dana Balter (D)

Balter takes a vastly different approach than her opponent on most social issues. She is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood, which she would fight for the government to continue to fund if elected. Balter also believes that healthcare is a human right and it should be affordable and quality for working Americans. She has shown support for protecting the civil liberties of LGBT people, expressing that schools should not discriminate against certain sexualities and identities. On her website, Balter clearly states that she supports the Second Amendment, but she wants common sense reform that can help stop mass gun violence. Balter has spoken out against the Trump administration’s approach to immigration by proposing reform that focuses on those who are a known danger to be deported, before focusing on children and families. She advocates for a more “humane” system that can provide a clearer path to citizenship for those seeking refuge in the U.S.

A lot is at stake on Tuesday’s election. Social issues are important to everyone and the success of proposed policy all depends on our elected officials. Ultimately, we get to choose who makes the impactful decisions on our city, state and nation. Go out there and vote!