Lambda Line: January 2004

L.I.D. Annual Meeting


Please join us for L.I.D.’s annual meeting on Monday, January 26, 7:30 p.m. at Old First Church, Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street, Park Slope. We will both elect our 2004 Executive Board and make our endorsement for the March 2nd Democratic Presidential Primary. Each candidate has been invited to send a representative to speak and answer questions. All dues paid members who live in Brooklyn are eligible to vote. See the enclosed flyer for more details.

In the meantime, if you’d like to review the candidates’ positions on LGBT issues, the Human Rights Campaign has posted responses to its 2004 Presidential Candidates Questionnaire on its web site, www.hrc.org. From the home page, click on the “Campaigns and Elections” tab on the left. Then select “Presidential Candidates” from the submenu, and finally “Questionnaire Responses” below that.

2003 Election Wrap Up


There were few hotly contested races in the 2003 general election, but L.I.D. had a hand in most of them.

The most closely watched contests were Ballot Question 3 (non-partisan elections) and the campaign to succeed the late James Davis in the 35th City Council District (Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, parts of Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights). L.I.D. endorsed a “no” vote on the ballot question and Letitia “Tish” James for Council in the 35th. Both resulted in sweet victories. The Bloomberg-backed ballot initiative went down 70%-30%, despite an estimated $7.5 million in personal spending by the mayor. Meanwhile James, who ran on the Working Families Party line, carried 76.1% of the vote against three opponents. A longtime friend of L.I.D., James also had our support in her narrow loss for the same seat in the 2001 Democratic Primary. A profile of James appears later in this issue.

Many eyes were also on the race for District 2 (Brooklyn and Staten Island) State Supreme Court judges, given the growing scandal involving Clarence Norman and the County Democratic Party’s selection of judicial candidates. Despite eight open seats, L.I.D. endorsed only three candidates: Margarita Lopez Torres; open-lesbian Rosemary Palladino; and Robert Newman, all of whom ran on the Working Families Party line. While they ultimately came in 12th, 13th and 14th out of 18 candidates, they placed in the top tier in a number brownstone Brooklyn EDs, where many voters carried the L.I.D. palm card.

Finally our countywide Civil Court candidate Shawndya Simpson was an easy victor in the general election, having survived a nasty Primary challenge from Dawn Jimenez to win the Democratic Party line.

Much Ado About Marriage


We may still be a long way from seeing LGBT marriages codified in the U.S., but recent events have pushed the issue into the public consciousness…for better or for worse. A string of victories, starting in June with Canada’s legalization of same sex marriages and the U.S. Supreme Court’s Lawrence vs. Texas decision, served to both advance our cause and mobilize our fiercest opponents.

Here in New York, LGBT Democrats had reason to cheer in September when the Democratic State Committee unanimously adopted a resolution in support of same gender marriage legislation at its semi-annual statewide meeting.

Unfortunately the historic moment was marred by vicious antigay rhetoric from Democratic Assemblymember Dov Hikind (Borough Park, Dyker Heights, Kensington, Flatbush). In a September 24th story that appeared in the New York Daily News, Hikind asked, "What's next? Do we legalize bestiality? Do we legalize incest?"

L.I.D. didn’t let Hikind’s hateful homophobia go unchallenged. We fired off a press release rebuking him that generated considerable coverage in both the Brooklyn papers and the LGBT press. As Park Slope Democratic District Leader and former L.I.D. President Alan Fleishman told Gay City News, “If Assemblyman Hikind disagrees with his colleagues on this issue he will have the opportunity to vote against it when it reaches the floor of the legislatur e for a vote. Comparing homosexuality to bestiality or incest is inexcusable.”

It’s unclear when such a floor vote will occur. Both the Assembly bill (A7392) and Senate bill (S3816), which validate marriage between same sex parties, were referred to their respective Judiciary committees last spring. Immediate prospects looked dim until the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in November 2003 that a ban on same-sex civil marriage is unconstitutional. This not only opens the door for civil marriage in Massachusetts but also puts pressure on New York to follow suit.

L.I.D. will continue to lobby Brooklyn legislators at the state and federal level in support of same-sex marriages and against initiatives that would bar them.

2004 Presidential Delegates


The LGBT community will be well represented on Brooklyn delegate slates in New York’s March 2nd Presidential Primary.

L.I.D. Corresponding Secretary and 1988 Peter B. Vogel Award winner Renee Cafiero is running as a delegate for Howard Dean in the 11th Congressional District (CD); Executive Board member-at-large Beverly Copeland is running as a delegate for Richard Gephardt in the 11th CD; Executive Board member-at-large Ken Diamondstone is pledged to Dean in the 10th CD; Former L.I.D.-President and 1989 Peter B. Vogel Award winner Scott Klein is running onWesley Clark’s slate in the11th CD; and former Stonewall Democratic Club President Bob  Zuckerman is running as a delegate for Gephardt in the 12th CD.

Remembering Mary Pinkett


On December 4th, former City Councilmember Mary Pinkett died at age 72. The first black woman elected to the council, Pinkett served for 28 years representing neighborhoods that included Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Crown Heights. She was first elected in November 1973 from the 28th District, and assumed the 35th District in 1992, following redistricting and expansion of the Council to 51 members. She retired in 2001 because of term limits.

A Brooklyn native and former president of Social Service Employees Union Local 371, Pinkett was a formidable personality on the Council. She chaired the Council’s Civil Service and Labor Committee and was particularly concerned with workers rights and social justice issues. As a consistent supporter of the LGBT community, Pinkett earned L.I.D.’s endorsement through most of her career. She was among the early co-sponsors of Local Law 2, the city's original gay rights legislation. She also co-sponsored Intro. 163, former Councilmember Tom Duane’s domestic partnership legislation, and voted for the domestic partnership law that passed in 1997. In 1993, she supported the successful effort to deny Rev. Ruben Diaz from being re-confirmed as a member of the Civilian Complaint Review Board because of homophobic statements he made. Though prickly at times, Pickett had our respect for her courage and her convictions. She was a straight shooter who represented diverse constituents and brought the same message to them all. She will be missed.

Dadey Named New Director of Citizens Union


L.I.D. member and 1996 Peter B. Vogel Award winner Dick Dadey has been named executive director of Citizens Union, the city’s oldest and largest good-government organization. When he assumes the post on January 20, he will also oversee the Citizens Union Foundation, the organization’s research-and-education affiliate. Currently he is head of City Parks Alliance and is the former executive director of New Yorkers for Parks.

Many in our community know Dick best as the founding executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), a post he held from 1990-1997. Under his leadership, ESPA grew from an idea into one of the most influential statewide LGBT political organizations in the country. We congratulate Citizens Union on their hire and wish Dick well in his new position.

2004 Lunch with Lambda Honorees


As we look towards our annual Spring fundraising lunch, we welcome suggestions of potential honorees. There are three kinds of awards: Brooklyn Lambda Awards, which are given to individuals, businesses or organizations that have done something to make our lives better; the Clyde Moss Service Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates extraordinary volunteer commitment to the club; and the Peter B. Vogel Award, given to an individual who has displayed outstanding political leadership in the LGBT community. Please e- mail your nominees for any of the awards to Dan Tietz at dantietz@earthlink.net.

Our Pick in the 35th: Tish James


They say that good things come to those who wait, and residents of the 35th Council District waited two years for Letitia “Tish” James to be elected as their city councilmember. As noted in our election wrap-up, James lost a hotly contested race for the seat in 2001, but coasted to victory this past November. L.I.D. was proud to give her our strong backing in both campaigns. James has a long history of public service and is well know to L.I.D. Explained Dan Tietz to Gay City News, “She has been coming around to the club for years. She knows our issues. She has a work history that proves that she has the skills set, knowledge, and temperament to be a good city councilmember.”

We could fill a whole newsletter documenting James’ career of advocacy and government service. An attorney by profession, she considers herself a social worker by nature. One of the achievements she is most proud of is founding the Urban Network, a coalition of minority professional organizations that raises money and distributes college scholarships to inner city youth.
She has been a Counsel and Chief of Staff to Assemblymembers Roger L. Green and Al Vann and an Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Brooklyn Regional Office under Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. During her law career she worked as a Public Defender for the Legal Aid Society.

James said on her campaign web site, “Throughout my career, helping people navigate the labyrinths of government bureaucracy has always been a big part of my job description--one of the parts I found most meaningful... I saw, up close, that when government can be made to work in the public's interest, it can make significant improvements in many people's lives. I've participated in bringing about some of those changes, crafting state legislation that promotes fairness and justice and pushing for those bills to become law.”Other than her law school years in Washington, D.C., James has lived in Brooklyn her entire life. She attended New York City public schools and CUNY's Lehman College prior to getting her J.D. from Howard Law University Law School. She also recently completed an M.P.A from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Tish is already off to a fast start in the City Council, proving she was definitely worth the wait.

Calendar:


Sunday, January 11, 3:00-6:00 p.m.

L.I.D.-cosponsored event: “Brooklyn Rallies to Beat Bush,” Camp Friendship, 339 8th Street (between 5th and 6th Aves), Park Slope.
Tuesday, January 13, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

L.I.D.-cosponsored forum: “How Not to Pick a Judge: A Look at the Need for Judicial Reform in NYS,” LGBT Center, 208 West 13 Street, Manhattan
Monday, January 26, 7:30 p.m.

L.I.D. Annual Meeting, Seventh Avenue and Carroll Street, Park Slope

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