State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) has announced that his office has secured $100,000 in operational funding for the Newburgh LGBTQ Center. This funding will give the center the ability to hire staff, enabling them to provide additional vital programming and services to support the county’s LGBTQ community.Currently, Orange County lacks the support services for this community, whether it’s housing, legal issues or health care. Members of the LGBTQ community travel from all around the Hudson Valley to benefit from the Newburgh Center’s resources. Now, finally, the volunteer-run organization will be able to hire employees and significantly expand their reach. “I was honored to fight for this much-deserved and much-needed funding for the Newburgh LGBTQ Center,” Skoufis said in the press release announcing the funding. “I thank Rae, Maria and all of the community activists who have been working on-the-ground here in the Hudson Valley to make this a more equal place for everyone. There’s still a lot of work to do, but I’m confident that we’re on the path to getting to a place where one’s sexual orientation or identity have no impact on one’s access to a safe and happy quality of life.” Rae Leiner, co-director and co-founder of the Center said, “This is a momentous occasion for the center and the City of Newburgh. Senator Skoufis fought for this much needed resource and won; this is the beginning of a new chapter for members of the LGBTQ+ and the broader community in Orange County and the mid-Hudson Valley.” Skoufis also noted LGBTQ protection bills that passed the state Legislature this year including: • Abolished the so-called “Gay and Trans Panic” Defense, a discriminatory law that allowed murderers to use homophobia as a legitimate excuse for their criminal actions.• Established a LGBTQ Suicide Prevention Task Force to determine how to improve mental health and suicide prevention in LGBTQ youth.• Restoration of Honor Act to restore eligibility for state programs and benefits for LGBTQ veterans who were less than honorably discharged solely due to their sexual orientation.• The Modern Family Act to lift the current ban on surrogacy.• The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression. • Banned the use of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors.