After Multiple Ballots, LID Unable to Reach Decision in Brooklyn DA Race
At the May 25th endorsement meeting, LID was unable to reach a decision in the hotly contested Brooklyn District Attorney’s race. After three ballots failed to produce a majority for any candidate, the club decided to delay its endorsement. LID will reconvene for a special DA endorsement meeting, to be scheduled after petitioning ends in mid-July.
Explained LID President Gary Parker, âIt was a lively and well-attended meeting, with vigorous debate among club members supporting each of the candidates. But in the end, the membership felt it was in the best interests of the club and the LGBT community to delay the vote and see how the race shakes out after petitioning.â
Incumbent District Attorney Charles J. Hynes and challengers Arnold Kriss, Mark Peters, and Paul Wooten all submitted responses to LIDâs detailed questionnaire and appeared in person to answer questions in hopes of receiving the clubâs endorsement. Another challenger, State Senator John Sampson, not only didnât attend the meeting (and sent no representative), but also failed to submit a completed questionnaire. In other endorsements considered at the meeting, LID voted to endorse incumbents New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Borough President Marty Markowitz and Councilmembers Bill deBlasio and David Yassky for re-election.
Markowitz Comes Out for Same Sex Marriage
At LID’s April 20th “Conversations with Lambda” meeting, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage for the first time in his career. Markowitz had previously said he supported civil unions but not same-sex marriage. As Crain’s New York Business reported, however, “Put on the spot by former Lambda President Alan Fleishman, Markowitz affirmed he’s in favor.” Afterward, Markowitz issued a statement characterizing his shift as “a modest evolution. Love is love, and everyone should have the same rights. My position has been consistent all these years.” In its report on the story, the Daily News quoted LID President Gary Parker saying, “[We’re] thrilled. It’s the right thing to do. Most Americans do not believe in discrimination.”
Silver Wonât Say âI Do Tooâ
Among those Americans opposed to discrimination is State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who told the crowd at the Empire State Pride Agenda’s “LGBT Equality & Justice Day” on May 24th that he supports “the full measure of equality and justice” for the LGBT community. Nonetheless, as the Daily News reported, Silver wouldn’t say where he stands on same-sex marriage. He explained to the News’ Bill Hammond, “That matter is being resolved in the courts. We’ll wait for that conclusion.”
LID Helps Center for LGBT Mentally Ill Stave off Closure
Several months ago, Rainbow Heights Club, a drop-in center in downtown Brooklyn for LGBT people managing serious mental illnesses, learned that its public funding had been eliminated along with that of twenty-six other mental health organizations. For Rainbow Heights, that would mean the loss of nearly all of its funding and certain closure.
This would be a tremendous blow for our community, since Rainbow Heights is the only peer-based mental health organization specifically for the LGBT community. It provides daily services, support, and advocacy to people with serious mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia.
LID recognizes the value of this organization and has been rallying our elected officials to demand full restoration of the club’s funding. Due in large part to the advocacy of Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember Margarita Lopez, the Empire State Pride Agenda and LID, Mayor Bloomberg agreed to reinstate and continue the contract for Rainbow Heights and all the other defunded mental health organizations, but only until the end of the year. Although this has given a six-month reprieve to Rainbow Heights, it leaves them little reassurance that they will be able to continue to provide services beyond this December. LID is continuing the fight to save Rainbow Heights. We’ve been holding in-district visits with key legislators and sent a team of club members to Albany on May 24th to lobby alongside ESPA and Rainbow Heights Club clients (see photo above) in an effort to persuade state lawmakers to prioritize this issue. President Gary Parker and First Vice President Christopher Murray had an op-ed article published in Gay City News (gaycitynews.com/gcn_418/getonthebustosave.html) and submitted another to the Park Slope Courier, drawing attention to the issue and calling on others to help in the effort. If you are interested in getting involved, please LID Executive Committee members Kevin Huang-Cruz, James Whitty and Christopher Murray with Rainbow Heights Club members and Director Christian Huygen at ESPA's LGBT Equality & Justice Day in Albany. contact Gary Parker at email@example.com or visit the Rainbow Heights Club website at www.rainbowheights.org.
GENDA Back on State Legislatureâs Agenda
At the end of April, New York State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Dick Gottfried reintroduced the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would protect transgender people against discrimination throughout New York State. The bill was first introduced in the 2003 legislative session after efforts to include gender identity and expression in the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) had failed. SONDA passed in late 2002, more than 30 years after it was first introduced.
While few expect GENDA to pass this year, the legislation is picking up steam. The Assembly bill (A.7438) has gained broad statewide support and now boasts 51 sponsors, up from 34 in 2003. Among them are 12 Assembly members from Brooklyn: Prime sponsors Jim Brennan, Diane Gordon and Felix Ortiz, and sponsors William Boyland, Jr., Adele Cohen, Roger Green, Vito Lopez, Joan Millman, Clarence Norman, Jr., N. Nick Perry, Annette Robinson and Darryl Towns. The Senate bill (S. 4794) has eight sponsors, including Brooklyn’s Martin Connor and John L. Sampson.LID encourages the membership to thank their legislators who have sponsored GENDA and encourage those who haven’t yet to add their names to the bill. Look up your legislators online at www.lwvnyc.org/Try_find.html.
LGBT-Friendly Adult Day Services in Park Slope
In late April, LID was approached by Matt Kudish, MSW, the LGBTQ Specialist at Park Slope Geriatric Day Center. He wanted LID members to know that the program has been in the community for over 20 years and welcomes LGBT clients and their families. It has one site for frail elders and another for people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The Family Caregiver Project, launched in 2002, provides services and programs to support caregivers of older persons, including spouses, partners, and children of aging parents. It offers individual and group counseling, benefits and entitlements assistance, training and education, information and referrals, as well as respite and supplemental services. Furthermore, the Family Caregiver Project hosts a variety of events geared specifically toward the needs of LGBTQ Seniors and Caregivers, including LGBT-specific support groups, health fairs and elder law clinics. For more information about any aspect of Park Slope Geriatric’s programs, contact Kudish at 718-499-7701 x117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, June 2, 7:30-9pm
The Power We Have: An Evening of Cultural Resistance, benefiting the Audre Lorde Project. Quaker Meeting House, 15 Rutherford Place, Manhattan. Tickets $20/$10 low income. For more information or to purchase tickets, email email@example.com.
Saturday, June 4, Noon-8pm
The first ever Staten Island LGBT Pride Festival, including a Pride Parade from the Ocean Breeze Fishing Pier and Pride Festival at Midland Beach Picnic Area. Presented by the LGBT Health and Wellness Program of Community Health Action of Staten Island. For more info call Allyson at 718-273-5833 or visit www.sihealthaction.org.
Monday, June 6, 7pm
LID endorsement meeting for Mayor, Public Advocate, contested Brooklyn City Council districts and Civil Court Judges. Also on the agenda: vote on adding Jesse Alick to the LID Executive Board. Old First Reformed Church, Ground Floor Lower Hall, 126 Seventh Avenue at Carroll Street, Park Slope. Enter on Carroll Street.
Wednesday, June 8, 6pm
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s LGBT Pride reception and screening of the movies “A Union in Wait” and “Gay USA.” Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, in the Grand Rotunda. RSVP to 718-802-4042.
Thursday, June 9, 5:30pm
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr.’s annual LGBT Pride Celebration. The Center, 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan. RSVP to 212-669-4466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, June 10, 5:30pm
Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields’ annual LGBT Pride event. The Center at 208 West 13th Street, Manhattan.
Saturday, June 11, 11am-2pm
Brooklyn Pride Festival, Bartel-Pritchard Circle and along Prospect Park West from 15th Street to 9th Street. To volunteer contact Executive Board member Kay Mackey at email@example.com.
Saturday, June 11, 8pm
Brooklyn Pride Parade from Bartel-Pritchard Circle (Prospect Park West at 15th Street), up 15th Street to Seventh Avenue, continuing north on Seventh Avenue to Lincoln Place. LID will gather in front of the Pavilion movie theater on Prospect Park West near 14th Street.
Saturday, June 18, 3-5pm
Walk-In Legal Clinic, presented by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Law Association of Greater New York at the offices of Dyke TV, 71 5th Ave (Prospect and St. Marks Pl.), Park Slope. For more information call 212-533-9118.
Thursday, June 23, 6:00-8:00pm
Speaker Gifford Miller and the New York City Council’s annual LGBT Pride Celebration. City Hall, Manhattan. RSVP 212-788-5613.