Other states were already taking note.
In California, Scott Wiener, a Democratic state senator from San Francisco, said he would introduce a bill to repeal a 1995 loitering law in his state in the coming weeks, adding that the support from an establishment Democrat like Mr. Cuomo was welcome momentum.
“California and New York look to each other,” said Mr. Wiener, who went to law school with Mr. Hoylman. “This law is part of a history of criminalizing L.G.B.T.Q. people for simply existing.”
That history includes controversy dating back to its passage 45 years ago, when it was pushed as an answer to street prostitution ahead of the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Even then the law was deemed by some as overbroad and potentially onerous, with a catchall definition of illegal behavior — including beckoning, wandering, and talking to passers-by or passing vehicles — in a range of public spaces which included “any street, sidewalk, bridge, alley or alleyway, plaza, park, driveway, parking lot or transportation facility,” as well entrances and doorways of all of the above.
Over the years, opponents said that often led to police harassment.
“Police would see a transgender person they perceived to be a man and assumed they were dressed as a woman because they were selling sex,” said Leigh Latimer, the supervising attorney of the Exploitation Intervention Project at the Legal Aid Society, noting that the law “allowed police to make assumptions about people that were not based in fact, and criminalize folks walking in their own neighborhoods.”
Ms. Latimer said repeal of the law — which took effect immediately — was critical in another respect: It sealed prior violations and convictions, charges that often created barriers to employment and housing.
One person who had been repeatedly arrested under the law — a 50-year-old woman from Queens who was sexually trafficked when she was young — said that the charges had made it difficult for her to seek a better life through education or other employment.
“I wanted to do something worthwhile, and I was told I couldn’t because I had all these loitering arrests,” said the woman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the stigma associated with her past arrests. “It’s like having a scarlet letter.”