Barely a week after Evan Wolfson addressed “Why Marriage Matters” before 65 members and guests at L.I.D.’s January 27 annual meeting, New York’s LGBT community won a big victory in the fight for same-sex marriage – and then had it snatched away by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. L.I.D. was deeply troubled by the Mayor’s decision to appeal Judge Doris Ling-Cohan’s landmark decision concluding that the right to marry the person of one's choice is a privacy right protected by the New York State Constitution.
On February 5, Bloomberg made the bold statement that he is in favor of same-sex marriage, but then announced that he would be appealing the ruling. L.I.D. calls that hypocrisy, and we did so at press conferences, in writing, and on the streets. We were a driving force in the Greater Voices coalition demonstration on February 15 across from Bloombergâs re-election kickoff at B.B. Kingâs. That raucous protest garnered media coverage in the Daily News, Post, 1010 WINS, WNBC and WABC among other outlets. Go to gaycitynews.com/gcn_360/gayprotestorsdog.html to read Gay City Newsâ coverage. There is a link to L.I.D.âs press statement on the topic at www.lidbrooklyn.org.
Court Backs Bloomberg Against Equal Benefits Law
Acting on Mayor Bloomberg’s appeal, on March 15 a state appellate court struck down the NYC Equal Benefits Law, which required companies who contract with the city to offer to the domestic partners of their employees the same benefits they offer to spouses of their employees. The City Council, which overwhelmingly passed the bill and overrode the Mayor’s veto of it, plans to appeal. L.I.D. urges members and supporters to call Mayor Bloomberg at (212) 788-3000 and urge him to stop opposing equality for LGBT New Yorkers.
Markowitz Backs Off on Cracker Barrel, Still Invites Hateful Hecht to Borough Hall
L.I.D. was appalled to learn in late February that Borough President Marty Markowitz had invited executives from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store to tour Brooklyn in hopes of getting the chain to set up shop here. Apparently he did not know that Cracker Barrel has a history of discrimination against African Americans, LGBT people and women. After being educated by City Councilmember Charles Barron (D-East New York) and State Senator Tom Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan) among others, Markowitz rescinded the invitation. It seems Markowitz also failed to do due diligence when he recently invited Rabbi Abraham Hecht to have a breakfast meeting of his Rabbinical Alliance of America at Borough Hall. As reported in Flatbush Life, in 1997 the Alliance said it would boycott the U.S. Holocaust museum if it recognized gay victims, and the group has been active in the fight against gay rights in Jerusalem. L.I.D. is seeking a meeting with Mr. Markowitz to discuss these events.
Getting to Know Gary Parker
At L.I.D.’s Annual Meeting in January, Gary Parker was elected President, succeeding our three-term leader Dan Tietz. Many of us recognize Gary as a longtime member of L.I.D. and its Executive Board but don’t know much about him beyond his obvious intellect, charm, efficiency and commitment to our cause. To fill us in, Gary, a 15-year Brooklyn resident, Master of Social Work and community organizer, shared some details about his life.
Growing Up: “I was raised by lesbian moms in Methuen, MA. Because I grew up in the 1970's and both my moms were working as school teachers, they lived very secretive and closeted lives. We lived in a duplex apartment where my biological mother, my sister and I lived on one floor and my other mother lived on another. My moms kept their relationship a secret from the neighbors, their co-workers, and even their children. They were afraid that not only would they lose their jobs if someone found out they were gay, but also that their children Action Alert: Stop “The Real ID Act”
On February 10, The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) issued an urgent alert re: H.R. 418, “the Real ID Act.” This bill establishes requirements that all states must abide by with respect to their state IDs and mandates categories, including gender, which must be present on them. NCTE explained that although no rules would be established regarding the process of changing gender markers, any national regulations regarding state IDs are dangerous for civil rights. Moreover, this legislation would prevent states from issuing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and limit the groups of lawful immigrants who can obtain licenses. Despite opposition by NCTE, hundreds of other organizations concerned with civil liberties and all of Brooklyn’s Democratic Representatives, H.R. 418 passed the House by a vote of 261-161.
“The Real ID Act” is now before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. New York’s own Senator Chuck Schumer sits on the Judiciary Committee and is a member of the subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship. Call Schumer’s office at (212) 486-4430 and urge him to vote AGAINST the Real ID Act. Call Senator Hillary Clinton’s office at (212) 688-6262 and encourage her to oppose the bill as well. President George Bush has said he will sign this bill if it comes to his desk, so it has to be stopped now! would be taken away from them. This was a very real fear 30 years ago – one no family should ever have to live with. All families deserve to flourish in a nurturing environment and community. One of the reasons I am so active in the community is to protect other LGBT families from this type of fear and oppression.”
Coming Out: “My coming out was an interesting experience. I took my mother to dinner for her birthday when I was 18 or 19. She asked me why I had so many gay books in my room. I told her it was because I was gay. She said, ‘I know and I still love you.’ She paused and said, ‘I’m gay too.’ I said, ‘I know and I still love you.’” All In The Family: “I have one sister and she is also a lesbian. That makes everyone in my immediate family gay. I always joke that I am the only one in my family who is attracted to men.”
What The Membership Should Know: “I want them to know that I love organizing our community. I don't do this work because I am a gay man. I do it for my family. For me, the struggle for equality is personal. I don't know anyone who isn't willing to fight to protect his or her family.”
27th Anniversary Lunch With Lambda
On Sunday, April 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., L.I.D will host the 27th Anniversary Lunch with Lambda at Aunt Suzie’s restaurant, 247 Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. At the event, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann of Congregation Kolot Chayeinu will receive the Peter B. Vogel Award. Brooklyn Lambda Awards will be presented to Kelli Conlin, Executive Director, NARAL Pro-Choice New York; Gay City News, America’s largest circulation gay newspaper; Joe Pressley, Executive Director of New York AIDS Coalition; Susan Sommer, lead attorney in the NYC landmark decision holding that same-sex couples must be allowed the right to marry; and Jo-Ann Shain and Mary-Jo Kennedy, and Lauren Abrams and Donna Freeman-Tweed, Brooklyn-based plaintiffs in that case.
Spitzer Dodges Discriminatory Tax Department Decision
As reported in the January 31 Gay City News, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has refused to take on the State Department of Taxation and Finance’s decision to invoke the federal Defense of Marriage Act to stop legally wed same-sex couples in New York from filing as married. While Spitzer issued an opinion last year that New York should honor the marriages of same-sex couples wed in Canada and elsewhere, his refusal to get involved in this controversy makes us question his commitment to full equality for LGBT people.
Meet The Mayoral Candidates
On Wednesday, April 6, at 7 pm, Greater Voices will hold its Mayoral Forum at NYU’s Silver Building, 24 Waverly Place, Room 703. This will be the first time eight LGBT progressive political clubs have collaborated to organize an open public candidates’ forum specifically to address the concerns of our community. L.I.D. encourages all of our members to attend for this opportunity to bring their issues directly to the candidates.
The H Word (Homophobia)
On February 22, Republican-Conservative State Senator Marty Golden (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, parts of Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Park) wrote to the New York City Department of Transportation to object to the placement of an advertisement for the Showtime series The L Word at the bus stop shelter located at 77th Street and 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge. According to Golden’s website, “the sexual nature of the advertisement, and the appearance of nudity, does not belong at a bus stop near local schools nor should shoppers be subjected to the advertisement as they wait for their bus home.”When word of Golden’s letter became public, L.I.D. fired off a statement that was picked up by the March 3 Gay City News and the Park Slope Currier. Said L.I.D. president Gary Parker, “This is yet another blatant attack on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. This is an ad for a top rated mainstream television series. If the ad were for UPN’s America’s Next Top Model, I am sure [Golden] would have no objection...The Senator is once again pushing his right wing Republican agenda to oppress the LGBT community.”
Owens Honors Two of L.I.D.âs Own
Congratulations to L.I.D. Board member Ken Diamondstone and member Dorothy Siegel, who were recipients of Lifetime Struggle and Achievement Awards at Congressmember Major R. Owens’ “A Blue State Celebration Honoring Brooklyn’s Leaders.” The event took place on Friday, March 18.
Wednesday, April 6, 7pm
Greater Voices Mayoral Forum, NYU Silver Building, 24 Waverly Place, room 703, Manhattan (proper ID required for entrance into building). All the Democratic candidates have confirmed their attendance. Come and question the candidates on issues that are important to you.
Sunday, April 10, 11:30am-3:00pm
L.I.D.’s 27th Anniversary Lunch with Lambda, Aunt Suzie’s restaurant, 247 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope.
Wednesday, April 20, 7pm
Conversations with Lambda: a forum for L.I.D. members to discuss our issues with candidates and our elected officials prior to our endorsement meeting. Old First Reform Church, 138 Seventh Avenue at Carroll Street, Park Slope.