Lambda Line: August 2002

Crucial Primaries September 10th

After another exhausting endorsement season that included two huge, long, and sometimes contentious, meetings in May and June and a mini-meeting in late July, LID has finally produced a comprehensive list of endorsed candidates for the September 10 Democratic Primary. The enclosed palm card lists our endorsements for the primary election.

At the top of the ticket, LID wholeheartedly endorses Carl McCall for Governor and Dennis Mehiel for Lieutenant Governor. For NYS Comptroller, Alan Hevesi was the overwhelming choice of the membership to succeed Carl McCall, who has admirably served in this important role for the past eight years. Hevesi is a long-time friend of LID and the LGBT community and an early, vocal supporter of gay marriage. Attorney General Elliot Spitzer has no primary opponent and we happily endorse him in his reelection bid.

Among the endorsements is that of our very own past president and board member, Alan Fleishman, an unopposed, openly-gay candidate for Democratic State Committeeman and Male District Leader in the redrawn 52nd Assembly District. Many of you have known Alan for years through his active participation in LGBT and Democratic politics in Brooklyn, and as the Community Relations staffmember for three NYC Comptrollers, including the current officeholder, Bill Thompson. Alan joins a ticket with incumbent Assemblymember Joan Millman and the current Female District Leader, Elizabeth Rose Daly. We’re proud to finally have one of our own enter public office!

Stop Noach Dear...Again

LID also strongly urges voters to support Lori Knipel for election in the newly-drawn 21st Senate District. As female district leader (Lori is also seeking re-election to this post), Lori has been a stalwart supporter of LID and the LGBT community in a district where vocal support for our rights can sometimes get a candidate in trouble. Lori needs and deserves the LGBT community’s financial and volunteer help.

To highlight the challenges Lori faces, among the four candidates remaining in this primary battle is the LGBT community’s arch-enemy, former City Councilmember and erstwhile Republican candidate for  Congress, Noach Dear. Although nearly 60% of the district is comprised of people of color, and two of the four candidates are black men, a chunk of the remaining electorate is in Borough Park and contains a sizable Orthodox vote. In short, hatemonger Dear could win if the Orthodox come out for him in big numbers and the remainder of the vote is badly split. To make matters worse, Dear’s campaign account is reported to be in excess of $300,000, far more than Lori’s approximately $80,000 or the miniscule $5,000 held by each of the other two candidates.

We also hear that Dear is trying to refashion his virulently homophobic image, at least in some neighborhoods, to become the kinder, gentler, dare we say inclusive, candidate in this race. Don’t believe it! Dear didn’t seek LID’s endorsement, and the progressive Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats rejected his recent political makeover as a shameless attempt to garner support outside his conservative base.

While we doubt that Lambda Line is widely read in Borough Park, we remind voters about a few key facts on homophobe Dear. Dear was the only member of the Brooklyn delegation in the City Council to vote against the domestic partner legislation passed four years ago. In 1998, while running for the Congressional seat being vacated by now Senator Charles Schumer, Dear sent a representative to LID’s endorsement meeting to record opponent Anthony Weiner’s presentation to the club wherein Weiner restated his well-known support of many LGBT issues and causes. That secretly recorded audiotape was then played before a large audience at Agudath Israel, an influential Orthodox Jewish group, in an effort to fan homophobic flames and damage Weiner. This was just one of several gay-baiting, nasty tactics that Dear pressed in his race against Weiner.

Apart from his anti-choice and homophobic politics, Dear isn’t much of Democratic anyway. Dear not only endorsed the first George Bush for president, and Giuliani for mayor, he accepted the Republican party line in his race for Congress and has done so again in his race for the State Senate! Worse still, reports persist that he might permanently join the Republicans if he is elected to the State Senate. With all this in mind, and Lori's genuine record of support for the LGBT community, we strongly urge voters to cast their ballot for Lori Knipel in the 21st Senate District.

Playing Politics With the Bench

Another very important primary race is the re-election of Civil Court Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres. Judge Lopez-Torres was the first Hispanic female to sit on the bench in Kings County when she was first elected ten years ago. Prior to joining the court, Lopez-Torres had an exceptional record of public service and the finest progressive credentials. She came to the bench with the support and assistance of Assemblymember Vito Lopez and the Kings County Democratic Party. She has since shown herself to be a most talented and capable jurist. Unfortunately, the same county machine that supported Judge Lopez-Torres in her first race has summarily dumped her in her reelection bid, and have pitched another candidate for borough-wide Civil Court, for reasons having nothing to do with her competence, but rather with her perceived lack of loyalty and gratitude.

The Brooklyn courts have received a great deal of news coverage of late. While most of the coverage has been eye-opening and welcome, none of it has been good. Many of Brooklyn’s judges apparently feel greatly indebted to the Kings County political machine that got them elected or approved for promotion. Fear of that machine running another judicial candidate in the next election against them has encouraged many sitting judges to return the ‘favor’ to ‘county’. Hence, there are hack appointments of unqualified clerks that just happen to be related to certain office holders, and gross enrichment at the expense of heirs by connectedlawyers from the estates they are assigned to administer by machine-controlled judges. To step out of line  with ‘county’ is to risk your seat on the bench.

To her credit, Lopez-Torres has remained true to her progressive, reformist roots and has refused to play along. We firmly reject the county’s unseemly move to unseat this talented and progressive jurist and heartily endorse the re-election bid of Judge Margarita Lopez-Torres.

Council Extends Domestic Partner Legislation

On August 15th the New York City Council voted by a wide margin to extend domestic partner status to couples relocating to the city from other jurisdictions so that they would immediately be treated the same as New York City residents under the the city's 1998 domestic partner law. Much like what currently happens with marriage licenses in every state and jurisdiction in the country, registered domestic partnerships, civil unions, and gay marriages from other jurisdictions would now be immediately treated and recognized as domestic partnerships here and granted the same rights.

Supporters and sponsors noted that this legislation is about basic fairness. Without this legislation the current NYC domestic partnership law would require couples recognized in other jurisdictions to re-register here and live in the city for one year before becoming eligible for domestic partner rights and benefits.

There were just seven votes against extending the domestic partner law. Unfortunately, four of those ‘no’ votes came from Brooklyn, including Councilmembers Mike Nelson, James Oddo, Marty Golden (who is presently seeking election to the State Senate), and Simcha Felder.

Felder, an Orthodox Jew from Borough Park and a former staffer to Assemblymember Dov Hikind, was a vocal opponent during debate and described the legislation and its repeated references to gay marriage as “shameful”. Felder was so exercised about the bill that he was threatened with removal by the Public Advocate after exceeding his speaking time.

Of course, LID respects the rights and views of others. But this legislation, like the law it extends, is simply one more step toward ensuring that LGBT citizens are afforded the same rights, privileges, and protection all expect and deserve.

Busy as a Beep

LGBT Brooklynites have been seeing a lot of Borough President Marty Markowitz. Marty was the Grand Marshall of this year’s Brooklyn Pride Parade. The BP also hosted a LGBT reception in June honoring LID’sown Jill Harris, with the celebration prominently featured in his boroughwide newsletter. And Marty hosted areception for Black Pride this August.

We are proud of you, Mr. BP. But much remains to be done. Members of the LID Board will seek a meeting this fall to talk about other pressing community concerns, such as gay marriage and the remembrance of the LGBT community as part of the Brooklyn Holocaust Memorial in Sheepshead Bay.

Carl Peek Remembered

L.I.D. member Carl Peek passed away in August. He was a longtime realtor in brownstone Brooklyn and a member of Community Board 6. Active in L.I.D. and Independent Neighborhood Democrats for over fifteen years, Peek is survived by his partner, Andrew Friedman, to whom we send our condolences.

Transgendered Win Lawsuit Against Brooklyn Toys "R" Us

Three transgendered shoppers of a Brooklyn Toys “R” Us won a federal harassment suit against the huge store chain in June. The jury agreed that store employees violated NYC civil rights laws when they used insulting and demeaning slurs, mocked the shoppers, and threatened them with baseball bats because of their gender and sexual identity.Although Toys “R” Us has anti-discrimination policies that employees are required to sign, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that the toy giant and the offending employees ignored those policies. Although the threeplaintiffs had sought damages of $900,000, they were only awarded $1each. The attorney for the plaintiffs,  Tom Shanahan, described the win as a “moral victory for the transsexual community.”

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