Tuesday, May 21, 2013
From NY1: Hundreds gathered for a march through the West Village Monday night in response to the murder of a gay man last weekend in what police are calling a hate crime. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was a show of strength for a community that's felt increasingly under attack.
A sea of LGBT supporters marched through the West Village Monday to the corner of Sixth avenue and West Eighth Street, the site of Friday night's shooting that left 32-year-old Mark Carson dead. He was shot, police say, for no other reason than someone thought he was gay.
"How can someone take the life of another human being for no reason?" said one person at the march.
"For us, it's very frightening that you could just walk down the street and all of a sudden, have somebody come up and literally assassinate you," said City Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall's Errol Louis asked Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm about his proposal to expand voting rights to immigrants. He was joined by Queens College Graduate Center Professor of Sociology Sujatha Fernandes.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
A New York City Council hearing reviewed a proposal that would give legal immigrants the right to vote. New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm is sponsoring the bill. He is a democrat, and represents District 25 in the city, including the immigrant-rich neighborhoods of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. He says he feels this bill matters because 68 percent of his district is composed of legal immigrants who are currently not eligible to vote. http://www.theworld.org/2013/05/councilman-dromm-legal-immigrants/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=councilman-dromm-legal-immigrants
Thursday, May 9, 2013
New York City could soon become the first major city in the country to give non-citizens the right to vote. The proposal, which would allow certain non-citizens to vote in local elections, appears to have a veto-proof majority in the New York City Council — enough to overcome opposition by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As hearings on the proposal get underway Thursday, supporters are optimistic it will become law by the end of the year and believe it will have an impact beyond the five boroughs.
“It’s going to be huge and just imagine the implications that are involved here,” Councilman Daniel Dromm, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation along with Councilwoman Gale Brewer, told TPM Wednesday.
Currently, citizenship is a requirement for voters throughout New York state. This legislation, “Voting By Non-Citizen Residents,” would allow immigrants who are “lawfully present in the United States” and have lived in New York for “six months or longer” on the date of a given election to vote provided they meet all the other current requirements for voter registration in New York State. This means they must “not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction” and “not be declared mentally incompetent by a court.” For their first time voting, they must also provide identification including; “copy of a valid photo ID, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or some other government document that shows your name or address.” Identification requirements would not remain after their initial vote. The bill only affects local races and calls for the registration forms provided to these “municipal voters” to specify that they “are not qualified to vote in state or federal elections.”
“This is extremely important, because it’s based on the founding principle of this country and that was, ‘No Taxation Without Representation.’ All of the people who would be included in this and would be allowed to vote are paying taxes, they’ve contributed to society,” Dromm said.
If the City Council passes the proposal, New York would be, by far, the largest city in the nation that allows non-citizens to vote. Non-citizen voting currently exists in multiple smaller municipalities in Maryland and Massachusetts. The locations that have passed immigrant voting in Massachusetts have been unable to implement it because they need state approval. According to Ron Hayduk, an author, professor at Queens College, and co-founder of the New York Coalition To Expand Voting Rights, who was part of the team that helped advise on the creation of the bill, contends that, as a charter city, New York would not need approval from the state. However, Hayduk acknowledged there is some dispute on that issue, which he said will be debated at a joint hearing conducted Thursday by the Council’s committees on immigration and governmental operations.
“There’s legal experts that are going to be testifying … that are going to make the case that New York City has the authority to enact this on its own and it will not come into conflict with any state law,” said Hayduk. “There may be others that dispute that and, if that’s the case, it may end up in the courts.”
One person who doesn’t believe the bill is acceptable under state law is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has been a prominent advocate for other types of immigration reform in the past.
“The Mayor believes voting is the most important right we are granted as citizens and you should have to go through the process of becoming a citizen and declaring allegiance to this country before being given that right. That being said, this bill violates the State constitution and the Administration does not support it,” Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for the mayor said.
However, Bloomberg’s opposition may not be enough to block the “Voting By Non-Citizen Residents” bill. It currently has the support of 34 of the Council’s 51 members, exactly the amount needed to override a veto by the mayor. Dromm first introduced the legislation in 2010 with the support of just eight council members.
There is one other person who could potentially block the bill despite its support: mayoral candidate and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. After Thursday’s hearing, the bill would next need to be scheduled for a vote in committee. If is passes that vote, it would need to go to the council floor for a vote. As speaker, Ms. Quinn decides when bills come to the floor, effectively giving her power to stall legislation indefinitely. However, Dromm is bullish about the bill’s prospects.
“I’m optimistic both with the committee and on the floor and I would hope that we could pass this by the end of the year,” he said.
Jamie McShane, a spokesman for Quinn, said he doesn’t think she is expected to be at Thursday’s hearing, but is “looking forward to reviewing testimony after the hearing happens.”
For his part, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said he supports the bill both as the representative of a district with a large immigrant population and as someone who was an immigrant himself. Rodriguez said he came to America from the Dominican Republic in 1983 and gained citizenship in 2000.
“In those years, from the 80’s through the 90’s, I was doing exactly the same thing as someone who’s a U.S. citizen. … I was working hard, I was paying taxes, I went to school, I graduated, I became a teacher in 1993 when I got my green card,” explained Rodriguez. “I believe that we have a great opportunity to make New York City the first large city in the nation that would allow residents with green cards to vote in local elections.”
Dromm also argued the bill would improve civic engagement and force politicians to listen to the concerns of immigrant communities.
“For disenfranchised communities, people who have not been allowed to participate, who have not become civically engaged, this would be a huge move in the right direction,” Dromm said. “Having the ability to participate in elections would create a lot more civic engagement and, on a political level, I don’t think communities like the community that I represent, which is 68 percent immigrant, would ever be able to be ignored again by anybody running for major citywide office in New York City.”
New York is currently preparing for a mayoral election in November, but Dromm said he doesn’t “anticipate it being in effect” by then.
“I’m going to be honest with you, there are some issues that we need to work out in terms of its implementation with the Board of Elections and stuff,” said Dromm.
Along with the local implications, Hayduk said the passage of the bill would have a national impact — both in other cities that are considering proposals for immigrant voting and in the wider immigration reform debate.
“It would send a big message to the rest of the country and embolden campaigns which are ongoing in other places like San Francisco, and Portland, Maine, and Washington, D.C., and other places,” said Hayduk. “It would certainly be viewed favorably by immigrants’ rights advocates and be seen by other policy makers as another level of discussion about the whole business of the role of immigrants in the United States.”
Sunday, May 5, 2013
From El Diario: By Ydanis Rodriguez and Daniel Dromm
Mientras nuestra ciudad se regocija ante la perspectiva de que pase el proyecto de reforma migratoria que se encuentra actualmente en el Senado de Estados Unidos, millones se movilizan para expresar sus pensamientos sobre esta crucial pieza legislativa. Este entusiasmo de participación cívica modela lo que esperamos de los neoyorquinos: opiniones informadas, un firme apoyo, y un deseo de participar en el proceso democrático con la intención de que la sociedad sea mejor para todos.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
From WCBS 880: By Rich Lamb
After a visit to Rikers Island, City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-25th) has introduced a measure to require the corrections commissioner to post a monthly report on prisoners being held apart from others.
As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, Dromm said the current situation at the jail facility is disturbing.
“We saw people who are in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day who are mentally ill, who have been for long periods of time; people who are drug-addicted,” Dromm said. “We also visited a solitary confinement unit for people who are adolescents.”
Dromm said solitary confinement should only be used as a last resort.
“It’s something that should only be used in the most extreme circumstances, when nothing else will work, and to protect other inmates from a violent criminal, or to protect that person from themselves, actually,” Dromm said.
Dromm said the public has a right to know how solitary confinement is being used at Rikers. He said he wanted to insure that solitary is not being used to punish prisoners for minor infractions.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Take the story of Pablo and Santiago, a couple who participated in a recent LGBTQ Immigration Forum organized by Make the Road New York and Immigration Equality. Santiago, a US citizen, fell deeply in love with Pablo while visiting Venezuela in the 1980s. Santiago asked Pablo to come with him to New York City, and 26 years later they are still together.
Two years ago, Pablo and Santiago got married, but Pablo is still undocumented, because our current immigration laws do not recognize his same-sex marriage. Simply because Santiago is a man, he cannot sponsor his loving husband to become a US citizen.
This story is tragic, but it is also fixable if Congress includes same-sex couples in comprehensive immigration reform. This simple legislative fix could improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people. According to a recent study published by the Center for American Progress and the Williams Institute, 267, 000 of the 11 million undocumented people living in this country identify as LGBTQ. And more than 32,000 immigrants share their lives with US citizens who cannot sponsor them because their marriage or union is not recognized by the federal government.
This is also an increasingly important issue for the Latino community and its growing electorate. Among undocumented LGBTQ immigrants, 71 percent are Latino. Latinos turned out to vote in huge numbers in 2012 because they want to see comprehensive immigration reform happen this year. While many people assume that Latinos oppose same-sex marriage, a recent poll of Latino voters conducted by Immigration Equality shows that 60 percent of them support inclusion of same-sex families in comprehensive immigration reform.
In short, this is an issue that resonates with Latinos and immigrants, and members of Congress should heed the voices of LGBTQ immigrants and their allies as they seek to reform our broken immigration system.
In order to have a fully LGBTQ inclusive and comprehensive immigration reform, we need legislation that: includes a path to full citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country; preserves and prioritizes family unity for all, including same-sex couples; protects low-wage workers; ensures humane enforcement of immigration laws, including due process rights and reforms to immigration detention; lifts the one-year filing deadline for asylum; and no longer makes low-level offenses, such as prostitution-related charges, an obstacle to a path to citizenship.
Up until now, too many of our congressional leaders — even those who have publicly supported same-sex marriage — have been silent about including same-sex couples when discussing immigration reform. To these elected officials, immigration and marriage equality are separate issues. But, for the myriad LGBTQ immigrants who cannot normalize their immigration status because of their sexual orientation, the failure to see how our broken immigration system disparately affects LGBTQ people has grave consequences.
For LGBTQ immigrants, a path to citizenship and recognition of their families would mean no longer having to live in the shadows –– and instead being able to live alongside their loved ones. We need congressional leadership to include LGBTQ immigrants in any comprehensive immigration reform bill. Immigration reform is an LGBTQ issue, a racial justice issue, and an economic rights issue.
The demand from LGBTQ immigrants and their allies to Congress is simple: do not push our communities back in the closet. Instead, pass a fully inclusive comprehensive immigration reform bill.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm represents New York City’s 25th District in Queens. Ana María Archila is the co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a grassroots immigrants’ and LGBTQ rights organization.
In December, 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed as he tried to cross the street on Northern Boulevard.
Now, leaders in Jackson Heights are calling for a slow zone to prevent more deaths.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm is leading the push that would lower the speed limit in the neighborhood from 30 miles per hour to 20 miles per hour on specific streets to stop drivers who speed through.
Last year, the councilmember applied to have a slow zone between 74th Street and 86th Street, from 37th Avenue up to Northern Boulevard. The application was denied by the Department of Transportation (DOT), as Northern Boulevard cannot be part of the slow zone because it is considered a major arterial traffic way, said Dromm.
But now Dromm hopes to reapply and focus on the side streets that meet Northern Boulevard.
“There is a very big problem in Jackson Heights on those side streets,” said Dromm. “We have to change the mentality of drivers that when they are coming into such a congested area, you aren’t going to get in and out fast. You need to slow down, calm down and take it easy.”
About two weeks ago, on the corner of 81st Street and 35th Avenue, a pedestrian was struck in a hit-and-run accident when a car was making a left turn. Another pedestrian was hit on 82nd Street and Northern Boulevard and is in critical condition.
Edwin Westley, president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said he is working with Dromm to bring the slow zone to the neighborhood.
“We need it for two reasons, one is the number of senior citizens in the neighborhood and the other reason is there are a large number of schools in the area,” Westley said.
A slow zone in East Elmhurst, on 25th Avenue from 69th to 83rd Street, was approved by the DOT and is nearly completed.
“Northern Boulevard needs to be a safe environment considering just how many schools sit right along it throughout Jackson Heights and into Corona,” said Serhan Ayhan, 26, a Jackson Heights resident. “We shouldn’t be playing a game of chicken waiting until a student is hurt while crossing the street to implement safer policies.”
Along with the slow zones, Dromm also hopes to implement other traffic measures including bike racks and extended curbs to get drivers to slow down. He is also working with the NYPD for additional enforcement on the north and south ends of Northern Boulevard to decrease fatalities and hit-and-runs.
The DOT did not respond as of press time.
On Tuesday morning, New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm introduced two new bills addressing the issue of solitary confinement in New York City jails. Joined by advocates from the Jails Action Coalition and parents of people currently incarcerated, the group called on the Board of Correction to adopt rules regulating the use of solitary confinement.
“I agree with the experts that [say] solitary confinement should rarely, if ever, be used,” stated Dromm. “When I toured Rikers Island last year, I saw the conditions under which inmates are exposed. It is not a surprise that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has highlighted the inefficacy and inhumanity of solitary confinement and called for its end.”
The first bill requires comprehensive reporting of data on “punitive segregation,” as the Department of Correction (DOC) refers to solitary confinement. The second bill is a resolution calling for the end to the practice of placing individuals returning to jail into punitive segregation to complete time owed from the previous period of incarceration.
The DOC expanded its punitive segregation capacity 27 percent in 2011 and 44 percent in 2012. New York City currently has one of the highest rates of solitary confinement in history, and the DOC has more punitive segregation cells than it did in the 1990s.
Jennifer Parish, director of criminal justice advocacy at the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project, called punitive segregation a threat due to the damage it inflicts on inmates.
“Punitive segregation, the involuntary confinement of incarcerated people in cells for 22 to 24 hours a day, causes serious physical, psychological and developmental harm and cannot be justified,” said Parish. “Punitive segregation fosters violence in DOC facilities and exacerbates threats to institutional security. The Board must act quickly to end the harmful effects of punitive segregation and to reduce current endemic violence in DOC facilities.”
Sarah Kerr, staff attorney at the Prisoner’s Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society, agreed.
“Punitive segregation is recognized as being extremely damaging,” Kerr said.
The coalition presented studies that showed the impact being thrown into solitary confinement has on people’s mental health and presented statements from inmates in solitary confinement. One letter, written by “M.L.,” detailed the effects solitary confinement had on him.
“They would put the handcuffs on my wrists too tight, and then they’d pull us down the stairs using the cuffs,” said M.L. “Our housing had two tiers, and I was on the upper tier. They’d tighten the cuffs so your wrists hurt more and then pull you using the cuffs. I had bruises on my wrists for a while. The guards would also curse you out. Once I saw the extraction team beat up a guy.”
Stephanie Reyes, 39, whose 17-year-old son is currently at Rikers Island, talked to the AmNews about what her son has experienced.
“They’re not good experiences,” she said. “He’s stressed out. He did something wrong, and he’s paying for that now. But I can help him with this because that’s abuse. You don’t use your name and title to do whatever you want to these inmates, because at the end of the day, they’re still kids. They’ve done their crimes and stuff, but they lose sight that they’re kids.
“He can’t fight, but I can fight for him,” Reyes said.
Monday, April 8, 2013
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.Police are looking for the man who approached a woman waiting at a bus stop in Queens early Monday, forced her to a nearby cemetery and raped her at knifepoint.
Authorities said the suspect approached the 41-year-old victim at 91st Place and Corona Avenue in Elmhurst shortly before 5 a.m. and asked her who she was waiting for.
When she said "my husband," he put a knife to her back and forced her to a high school parking lot about two blocks away, where he made her empty her pockets.
Police say he then forced her to walk to a cemetery a few more blocks away near 50th Avenue and 87th Street, where he demanded she crawl under a fence or he would rape her.
That is where he sexually assaulted her before fleeing eastbound down Corona Avenue, police said.
The victim was treated at a local hospital and released.
The suspect is described as being 25 to 30 years old with black spiked hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Diversas organizaciones LGBT, así como los concejales Jimmy Van Bramer y Daniel Dromm, protestaron frente a la corte federal en Manhattan donde se celebra un juicio contra esta práctica policial, conocida como "Stop and Frisk" y que afecta en su mayoría a afroamericanos y latinos.
Algunos mostraban con orgullo la bandera multicolor que les identifica, carteles con mensajes como "Ser latino no es un delito", "La gente LGBT no somos criminales", "Aprueben la ley de Comunidad Segura" u otros con información sobre víctimas de los registros y arrestos.
"Los miembros de la comunidad LGBT se ven afectados de forma desproporcionada por la práctica inconstitucional de la Policía. Trabajamos duro para corregir este problema", dijo Dromm, coautor del proyecto de ley que crearía un inspector general para vigilar el comportamiento de la Policía en Nueva York, y que forma parte de la propuesta ley de Comunidad Segura.
"Estamos aquí exigiendo justicia", dijo Bianey García, transexual mexicana que fue arrestada en dos ocasiones y acusada de ejercer la prostitución "solo porque encontraron condones en mi bolsa".
Recordó que la última vez que la detuvieron caminaba junto a su novio de regreso a su casa.
García, que es miembro de la organización "Se Hace Camino Nueva York", dijo que tras inspeccionar su bolso y acusarla de prostitución, la llevaron esa misma noche ante un juez.
"Me dijeron que la única forma de quedar libre era declarándome culpable. Soy indocumentada y no quería problemas (con Inmigración)", recordó García, cuyo novio pagó la fianza de mil dólares para que quedara en libertad.
Un informe de la organización comunitaria "Queers for Economic Justice" realizado en 2010 reveló que el 57 % de los encuestados dijeron haber sido detenidos y registrados por la Policía y más de la mitad reportaron haber sido objeto de hostigamiento verbal por los agentes.
"Somos perseguidas por ser mujeres transexuales y latinas, incriminadas por el sólo hecho de tener un condón porque nos acusan de prostitución", afirmó por su parte la salvadoreña Johanna Vázquez.
"Es muy difícil que te discriminen por tu color, por tu orientación sexual o por llevar un condón, que lo haces por protección. Creo que muchas personas andan con uno, si vas a una clínica te los dan y lo echas a la bolsa", argumentó.
Recordó que cuando la detuvieron en 2011 y la acusaron de prostitución estuvo un año en la cárcel porque descubrieron que había sido deportada previamente.
"Estuve seis meses en la cárcel federal y seis meses en la de Inmigración peleando por un asilo. Eso cambió mi vida. Antes te perseguían por ser transexual ahora si tienes un condón eres culpable", afirmó.
Vázquez dijo a Efe que mientras estuvo presa finalmente le otorgaron el año pasado el asilo tras demostrar que su vida corría peligro si regresaba a su país.
Recordó que emigró a EE.UU. cuando tenía 16 años luego de que fuera violada en El Salvador, razón por la cual pidió el asilo.
"Cuando me violaron fue difícil. En nuestros países te obligan a hacer cosas horribles, te golpean, te matan. Es algo que no le deseo a nadie", afirmó.
"Es horrible que te violen, que te señalen, y por eso estoy aquí, para pedir que no nos discriminen (la Policía) que no nos criminalicen por ser transexual o por llevar un condón", dijo Vázquez, haciendo esfuerzos para no llorar.
Aseguró que pese a estar ahora legalmente en Nueva York no ha logrado obtener empleo estable y a tiempo completo por ser transexual.
"Como mujer latina transexual me siento discriminada por la Policía. Siento temor de salir a la calle", indicó.
Agregó también que espera que tras este proceso judicial "ocurra un cambio para todas las personas afectadas por las prácticas de la Policía, no sólo para las transexuales".
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
NY1 VIDEO: Two local City Council members, Julissa Ferreras and Daniel Dromm, are calling on Trade Fair Supermarkets in Queens to bring locked out union members back to work.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
According to Park, the lack of city funding is unwarranted. With the Jackson Heights-based center receiving funding from the State Department of Health and a number of grants through the years, she expressed her confusion over why a caucus dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues will not put funds toward the Queens Pride House.
Lawmakers say there are good reasons for that.
“They have not been completely honest and because of that lack of honesty, there is a sense that not all of the members are a trustworthy group,” Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who also helped found the Queens Pride House, said. “We can’t fund everyone either. We have limited funds and we’re going to issue those funds to the groups we feel best serve the community.”
In 2010, the Queens Pride House met with LGBT caucus members Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan), Danny Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Erik Bottcher, Speaker Christine Quinn’s (D-Manhattan) liaison. According to a letter sent after the meeting by the Queens Pride House to Mendez, it was to discuss possible funding from the City Council, but it went wrong.
“Despite your best attempts to keep the meeting on track and the tone of the discussion cordial and professional, the other two Council Members turned the meeting into an adversarial encounter, demanding specific financial and programmatic information that, had they actually been interested in acquiring, they could have asked for in advance,” the letter read.
When asked about the meeting, Dromm and Van Bramer said the questions they asked were not out of the ordinary and that the Queens Pride House should have been able to answer at the time.
“Anyone who runs a program should be able to answer certain questions about their program,” Van Bramer said. “Questions like what do you do in the community and how will the funding be used are normal questions. I have never asked about a program’s finances and had the group say that it was inappropriate.”
Charles Ober, the treasurer of the Queens Pride House, said that questioning the legitimacy of the organization’s financial records is uncalled for.
“I have offered to show our books to any independent, objective person and that offer stands,” Ober said. “We abide by the highest practices in all fiscal and programmatic matters and I can prove it. I have already proved it to auditors.We gave similar information with many attached documents to the LGBT caucus in 2010 at the request of Daniel Dromm but we never received a response from him or anyone else at the caucus.”
The Queens Pride House has passed both city and state audits with few footnotes. Going through financial papers that Ober supplied, no misuse of funds was apparent.
Ober also mentioned that Dromm and the City Council had allotted money to the Bronx Community Pride Center, which closed last year after a board member was arrested for embezzlement.
According to the City Council budget, there is no evidence that Dromm funded the Bronx Community Pride House with his discretionary funds.
The budget does show the center has received funding through the Department of Youth and Community Development.
Even so, Van Bramer said there were other factors that went into their decision not to fund the Queens Pride House.
“I am proud to have funded a number of LGBT groups both through discretionary funds and caucus funds,” he said. “But with respect to Queens Pride House, I have found their approach and their application wanting. They’ve had opportunities to talk to the caucus about some of the progress they were making but it wasn’t reassuring.”
The councilman went on to say that it is important to remember that any funds the Council issues has to benefit the community in the best possible way.
“We have an obligation,” he said. “This is not our money to give away, it’s taxpayers’ money which is why we have to be exceptionally careful in allocating funds. No one is entitled to funding just because they exist.”
Kevin Wehle, a past employee with the Queens Pride House, said that lack of services is definitely an issue people in the community have had with the center.
“It’s been a rocky experience with the Queens Pride House,” he said. “They have a rocky history with many different stories and many different layers. They don’t have many services so it’s become more of a referral program. They don’t actually offer many on-site services.”
Park did say that the Queens Pride House recently received a grant to pass out condoms in the community but Wehle, who started as a volunteer and became the program assistant in 2011, recalled having difficulty finding outside groups willing to work with the center.
“When we did outreach in the community, so many people, even people in Jackson Heights, had no idea the place even existed,” he said. “Queens Pride House has a proven track record; they have a history of not working well with others. Other groups just didn’t want to work with us because they didn’t see us doing anything.”
“We offer rental space to outside groups like the LGBT AA group that meets here,” Park said. “We have a youth group and we allow anyone to use the computers we have in the lounge. There are people, many of whom are immigrants, who may not have a computer at home or aren’t out to their families yet, so they can come here to use the computers and speak with the other people hanging out in the lounge.”
According to the Queens Pride House website, programs offered include a Medicaid enrollment program, a youth group, a women’s support group and free yoga classes.
But Wehle, who was let go in May 2012, insisted “Queens Pride House has become more of a referral service than anything else. They don’t have things in-house, they’ll just tell you where you can go to get these things.”
A majority of these programs are given through other groups that meet in the headquarters, located at 76-11 37 Ave., renting the space.
“I have received a number of complaints from people and organizations regarding Queens Pride House,” Dromm said. “I find their renting process to be somewhat suspicious. I have heard that they rent the space out to a group and shortly after, they will oftentimes just throw them out.”
The LGBT caucus has been praised for being very supportive of LGBT groups. Dromm and Van Bramer have been continuous supporters of organizations such as Generation Q, an afterschool program for LGBT youth in Forest Hills.
“Much of my life has been about achieving full equality,” Van Bramer said. “I don’t think anyone would accuse me of holding an LGBT group back but at the end of the day, there will always be groups that don’t get funded, we don’t have the money to fund everyone. When we look at these groups, we have to decide which one is serving the most amount of people in the best possible way. In my experience there are other groups that are doing those things better than Queens Pride House. It is a competitive process. For anyone to say that I don’t support LGBT programs is laughable and insulting.”
Unless the LGBT caucus sees the Queens Pride House expanding its organization, they will continue to go unfunded by the City Council.
“We like to see, for example, if a group is in the news,” Dromm said. “We ask groups to show us any kind of newspapers they’ve been in. I have not seen a news story on what the Queens Pride House is doing in the community. The only time they’ve been in the news is when they’re complaining about funding.”
Over the next year or so, Queens Pride House’s exposure may change. Park mentioned a few projects in the works.
“Our biggest is the condom distribution,” she said. “We were only one of three grantees for this program and will be distributing condoms in Jackson Heights, Woodside, Elmhurst and Sunnyside.”
Park also mentioned the Queens Pride House’s new effort to inform transgendered people of their rights. Park said there is a significantly high percentage in the number of transgendered individuals being arrested by the NYPD.
“We are one of the only places to make ourselves open to the community,” Park said “Having a place where people can drop in and hang out is truly invaluable. The lack of funding really makes it a struggle but I know for certain that if the Queens Pride House ever closed, people would be devastated.”
“They have always been in financial trouble,” Wehle said. “There has never been a period when there was money; but you want funding, you have to have something. You have to show people numbers and data to get them to invest in you.”
Monday, March 18, 2013
“I will not tolerate this treatment of workers in my community,” Dromm said. “My office is here to serve you.”
Dromm held a news conference with members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 342 union in which he signed a petition in support of Trade Fair’s meat department workers, which is in contract negotiations with the supermarket chain’s ownership. Trade Fair, which markets itself on carrying food native to the diverse populations in its neighborhoods, has 11 locations in Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Richmond Hill.
Trade Fair said it had no comment on the negotiations or Dromm’s support of the union. Stores in Jackson Heights and Astoria have a sign posted about the negotiations indicating Trade Fair’s need to be competitive with non-union stores.
Kate Meckler, spokeswoman for Local 342, said the union has been bargaining for more than a year with the ownership, including Trade Fair President Frank Jabber, on behalf of 100 meat department workers across the 11 stores. Meckler said the workers want fair wages, to maintain their health care benefits and to keep their Sunday premium hours, but Jabber wants to make all full-time workers part-time and to end any wage increases.
“His proposals that he’s offered to the workers are unacceptable,” Meckler said.
Some workers say Jabber has also threatened retaliation and posted “Help Wanted” signs in some store windows.
“They say if they take any action to get their contract, they would be replaced,” said a Spanish-to-English translator on behalf of 15-year-meat department worker Milvia Lopez.
The union said workers had gone on an unfair labor practice strike at the stores Wednesday morning. They offered to come back to work later in the afternoon, but the company refused, the union said.
Employees of Trade Fair who do not work in the meat department are represented by a different union and are still under their previous contract, Meckler said.
Dromm has fought with Trade Fair in the past, particularly the location at 75-07 37th Ave. near his office, which he visited to express his support of the meat department workers. The councilman has criticized the 75th Street Trade Fair for erecting a sidewalk enclosure, which was later taken down after the supermarket received a fine from the city Department of Buildings.
He also slammed the store for allowing delivery trucks to idle outside the store after one truck driver allegedly struck the councilman and took his phone.
“Mr. Jabber thinks he’s above the law, and we’ve seen this type of behavior before,” Dromm said. “We say that he is a menace to our community.”
Thursday, March 14, 2013
“This is what I thought a very good turnout,” Dromm said, “but it’s an interest of concern.”
The councilman said he had wanted to do more to improve traffic safety in Jackson Heights and had been in discussions with the city Department of Transportation, but the death of Miguel Torres, who was struck by the rear wheels of a white dump truck turning right onto Northern Boulevard from 80th Street, spurred him to get into greater discussions with the DOT. Police had not found the driver as of Wednesday afternoon.
“That just increased the urgency with which we needed to address some of these problems,” Dromm said.
The panel was held at IS 145, at 33-34 80th St. in Jackson Heights, where Torres went to school. Representatives from the 115th Precinct, the DOT and Transportation Alternatives, a public transportation advocacy group, attended. Transportation Alternatives and the civic group Jackson Heights Green Alliance co-hosted the event with Dromm.
The forum discussed both preventive and enforcement measures when dealing with traffic safety, which Yu-Ting Liu, of Transportation Alternatives, referred to as the “carrot” and the “stick” approach.
“There’s a lot of pedestrian safety and traffic calming programs that are available,” Liu said.
Two of the most commonly discussed solutions were speed tracking cameras and slow zones. Queens Deputy Borough Commissioner Delilah Hall said the DOT is in favor of speed tracking cameras, which have the potential to warn motorists speeding the same way that red light cameras have prevented drivers from running the lights.
Liu said getting drivers to slow down is of grave importance as speeding kills four times as many people as drunk driving and the difference between being hit at 30 mph and 40 mph is an 80 percent survival rate vs. a 70 percent death rate.
“Speeding matters,” she said. “Every mile per hour matters.”
The developed slow zones, which were implemented in July 2012, set 20 mph zones in residential areas as well as adding speed bumps and other traffic-calming measures. Some sections of Jackson Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and Auburndale received slow zones, but to do this the area must have natural boundaries and must not be a bus or truck route.
As a major thoroughfare, the intersection where Miguel was hit could not become a slow zone, Hall said.
“We will continue to work with you on how to make Northern Boulevard safer,” Hall said.
Liu said to make changes in terms of traffic safety, it is important to be specific, organized and articulate about what you want as a community.
“Get organized about what your problem is, document it and work with your local elected officials,” she said.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
For more than a decade, the parade has welcomed groups that are banned from celebrating their Irish pride in Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue parade.
“We wanted an event that would be an inclusive celebration of St. Pat’s,” said parade co-founder Brendan Fay, who said he had been arrested five times for trying to march in the city’s St. Pat’s parade under a gay banner. “What’s beautiful about today is that it represents many groups of people and reflects the diversity of Queens.”
This year’s grand marshals were Aidan Connolly and Pauline Turley, of the Irish Arts Center, a 41-year-old nonprofit dedicated to promoting the arts and culture of Ireland. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) were among the elected officials who joined the festivities.
The parade’s motto is “Cherishing all the children of the nation equally” and the groups marching represented what Fay said was the organizer’s tendency to err on the side of hospitality.
Marching alongside the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, LGBT Families for Immigration Reform and the Gay Officers Action League were groups such as Occupy Astoria/LIC, Veterans for Peace and the Ethical Humanist Society.
The Sunnyside United Dog Society even got in on the action with two- and four-legged marchers taking to the street.
“It’s very progressive and truly inclusive,” Fay said. “People love this parade and the spirit of this parade.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), an openly gay legislator who helped organize the event in its earliest years, said it was encouraging to see the parade grow year after year.
“It’s amazing to see the sea change, the involvement from the whole community,” he said. “All the Irish pubs are having specials. It’s really grown beautifully. I’m very, very proud.”
Fay said he and other parade-goers had the memory of Rory Staunton in their hearts. Staunton, whose father owns Sunnyside’s Molly Blooms bar, where organizers often meet to plan the parade, died last year at the age of 12 from sepsis, a condition that can lead to organ failure.
Friday, March 1, 2013
From Times Ledger: By Rebecca Henely
Organizers of the third annual Elmhurst Lunar New Year celebration took to the streets Saturday at a rescheduled event after Snowstorm Nemo froze their previous plans, but bad weather followed them nonetheless.
Through persistent rain and cloudy skies, Korean drummers, a marching band and a lion dancer with its head wrapped in plastic made their way from Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Park, at 45th Avenue and Broadway, to St. Jame’s Episcopal Church, at 84-07 Broadway, for a festival to ring in the Year of the Snake.
“Unfortunately, every year we’ve had rain or ice or snow, but that doesn’t deter us,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said.
Elmhurst was scheduled to have its Lunar New Year celebration Feb. 9 with the newly elected U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) as grand marshal, but the parade was rescheduled as Nemo threatened.
While brief compared to the festivities in Flushing, the heart of the Asian community in Queens, Dromm said he started the Elmhurst event for the growing Asian population in the neighborhood. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in several Asian cultures.
“What we’re trying to do is plant the seeds for civic engagement and community pride,” Dromm said.
The event began with a performance by the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Coy Lee Fut Lion Dance Team from Flushing at the park. Then a few hundred marchers made their way to the church. Despite the many marchers, the parade kept to the sidewalk with a police car occasionally blocking off car traffic to help them pass.
Inside the church, several hundred stayed for performances from the IS 145 Marching Band, the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute of New York, the Elmhurst Dancing Group, the Hung Sing Kwon Dragon Dancers and John Yu, a musician who works with traditional Chinese instruments.
Other community-based organizations also set up booths with literature at the church.
Neighboring Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said events like these celebrate the growing new population in the borough.
“It’s a beautiful occasion,” Vallone said. “The Asian population is really what’s making Queens better and better.”
Warren Chan, of the Asian Communities United Society, said he has been working with Dromm to arrange the event since its inception.
“I hope that I can work much more with the councilman to do more Asian festivals,” Chan said.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
El domingo fue estrangulado Joseph Benzinger, 54 años en el Crown Motor Inn en Queens. El 27 enero lo fue en su domicilio del 32-23 de la Calle 91, David Rangel, 53. El hecho de que ambosfueran gays, de mediana edad y fueran estrangulados despertó las sospechas de Daniel Dromm, concejal gay del distrito, quien alertó a la Policía y a las organizaciones LGBT.
"Es una extraña coincidencia", dijo ayer Dromm en rueda de prensa junto a representantes del Proyecto Anti-violencia (AVP), "pero nos da razones para preocuparnos".
El concejal indicó que la policía está revisando los videos de seguridad de ambos lugares y que, por el momento, no hay conclusiones en las investigaciones. Dromm pidió a la comunidad LGBT que "extreme sus precauciones cuando salgan con alguien por primera vez", refiriéndose tanto a los encuentros en bares y discos como vía internet. Aunque no hay confirmación oficial se cree que los dos crímenes estuvieron relacionados con citas organizadas a través de internet.
Estos no han sido los únicos asesinatos recientes de gays.
El 28 de enero fue asesinado Charles Romo, 48, en su apartamento de Hamilton Heights (Harlem). El 20 de octubre fue asesinado en la calle 43 de Sunnyside, Queens, el activista gay Lou Rispoli,62, golpeado por tres individuos.
"Estos trágicos incidentes nos indican que debemos unirnos y reconocer que no solo merecemos seguridad sino que la podemos crear nosotros mismos", indicó Ejeris Dixon, subdirectora a cargo de la organización comunitaria de AVP.
Dixon informó que últimamente han detectado un aumento de las agresiones en las citas por internet y en los locales de encuentro, a pesar de que muchos de los incidentes no se reportan porque la gente es reacia a hacerlo debido al estigma. "Si hay violencia no es tu culpa", afirmó Dixon que pidió a la comunidad que reporte las agresiones, estén alertas para prevenir otro crimen y colaboren con la policía si tienen alguna pista sobre los asesinatos.
Cualquier persona con información favor contactar a Crime Stoppers 1-800-577- 8477. También pueden dar sus pistas en www.nypdcrimestoppers.com o enviando la información por texto al 274637 (CRIMES) y tecleen TIP577.
Las llamadas son confidenciales y ya se ofrece una recompensa de $2,000 en el caso de Rangel.
Las víctimas de violencia pueden reportar y pedir ayuda al teléfono 24 horas de AVP 212714 1141. También visitar http://avp.org/resources y buscar Security Tips.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
From NY1: By Arlene Borenstein
Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm sent a strong message of caution Tuesday to the borough's gay and lesbian community in the wake of two homicides in as many weeks.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Two struggling Queens high schools could soon become a lot more crowded.
The city has proposed opening one new school in the Newtown High School building, in Elmhurst, and two new schools at the Flushing High School campus.
The Department of Education is also looking to cut enrollment at the large high schools, which could affect the amount of funding each institution receives.
The city attempted to close both of the schools last year, but was blocked by a court order.
“These are two overcrowded schools that have just turned the corner in starting to make progress,” said James Vasquez, the Queens High School rep for the United Federation of Teachers. “This does nothing to help these school communities.”
The influential Panel for Educational Policy is slated to vote on the proposals on March 11.
Dmytro Fedkowskyj, the only Queens rep on the panel that wasn’t appointed by the mayor, said he’s worried that the existing schools could lose money and space for valuable programming if the co-locations are approved.
“I would just prefer to see more resources and better programs” at the existing schools, he said.
Last year, the state identified Flushing and Newtown High Schools as two of the worst-performing schools in New York.
The city plans to reduce enrollment at Newtown by about 300 to 350 students and open a new international school in the same building. The new school will focus on foreign-born students who may not speak English well.
But Newtown is improving. It went from a “C” to a “B” on its last city report card. Newtown PTA President Debora Martinez said “if they bring another [school], that’s going to affect us.”
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) called the co-location “insane.”
“This is a school that has been struggling to improve and [has] done the job,” he said. “It seems as if the [city] wants to make sure that Newtown fails.”
The city also plans to reduce Flushing’s enrollment by about 850 to 900 students and install two new schools on the campus. One will offer Chinese bilingual programs. Flushing got a “D” on its last city report card.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said the proposal was destructive. “Enrollment will decrease, funding will go down,” she said. “The school will have fewer resources and it will be even more difficult for [it] to succeed.”
But Education Department spokesman Devon Puglia said decreasing the schools’ student bodies will help them improve while the new schools serve the area’s immigrant populations.
“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” he said.
Monday, January 21, 2013
The rambling three-story house between 33rd and 35th Avenues doesn’t look like a cradle of the gay rights movement. But it became just that in 1972, when Dr. Jules Manford and his wife, Jeanne, publicly supported their son Morty, 21, a member of the Gay Activists Alliance who had been badly beaten for his political advocacy. They also offered themselves as informal counselors to gay children and their parents. Their initiative led to the creation of a group called Parents of Gays, which grew over time into the national organization Pflag (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).
Mrs. Manford’s death on Jan. 8 was a reminder that some deep roots of the gay rights struggle are not found in Greenwich Village or the Castro in San Francisco. Instead, they can be found in places like Flushing, Queens, on a block that might be described as tranquil if it weren’t for the youngsters of Public School 32 squealing while they play outdoors.
“It was a very Ozzie-and-Harriet-type house,” recalled Allen Roskoff, a friend of Dr. Manford. “It was a great feeling of warmth for people involved with the gay-rights movement to be in a house with parents who embraced them.”
“It was like having chicken soup,” he said.
Ethan Geto, another friend, reached for a different homey analogy. “Jeanne,” he said, “was like the den mother for a lot of gay young people who were thrown out of their homes, who were rejected by their parents, who were having terrible anguish over what to do or who were eager to come out but terrified of the consequences.”
That sense was undiminished two decades later, as an advocate named Daniel Dromm discovered when he paid a call on Mrs. Manford to ask her to be grand marshal of the lesbian and gay pride parade in Queens. “When I walked into that house, I felt immediately secure, comfortable and safe,” said Mr. Dromm, who is now a City Council member.
After Dr. Manford had a heart attack at 39, the couple decided that Mrs. Manford should resume her college education so she could earn an income. Just in case. She graduated from Queens College in 1964 and began teaching fifth and sixth grades at P.S. 32. Charles died unexpectedly two years later, at 22. Ms. Swan gave birth to a daughter, Avril, in 1968.
This was Jeanne Manford’s moment.
“She had lost one child,” Ms. Swan said. “She had no intention of losing another.”
Mrs. Manford wrote a letter to The New York Post, then a liberal newspaper. She criticized the police for allowing the attacks at the Inner Circle. Even more important was her simple declaration: “I am proud of my son.” The letter, published April 29, 1972, placed the Manfords under a national spotlight. It is among Mrs. Manford’s papers at the New York Public Library.
A Fair Chance
I would like to commend The Post for its coverage last week of the tragic incident that took place at the Inner Circle dinner, when hoodlums who work for our city were allowed to beat up the young men of the Gay Activists Alliance and walk away while our police stood by watching. It might be that these “men” have themselves some deep rooted sexual problems or they would not have become so enraged as to commit violence in beatings.
I am proud of my son, Morty Manford, and the hard work he has been doing in urging homosexuals to accept their feelings and not let the bigots and sick people take advantage of them in the ways they have done in the past and are continuing to do.
I hope that your honest and forthright coverage of the incident has made many of the gays who have been fearful gain courage to come out and join the bandwagon. They are working for a fair chance at employment and dignity and to become a vocal and respected minority. It is a fight for recognition such as all minority groups must wage and needs support from outsiders as well as participants in the movements.
Ten years later, in 1982, Dr. Manford died. In 1992, Morty Manford died of AIDS, at 41. His mother had set up a hospital bed in the living room at 171st Street to care for him at home. Watching her uncle die affected Avril Swan so deeply that she became a doctor herself. Mrs. Manford moved from Flushing to Rochester, Minn., when Dr. Swan was studying at the Mayo Clinic, and then to Daly City, Calif., to be near Ms. Swan. That is where she died.
The friendly face appearing at the door on 171st Street on Friday belonged to Nancy Timal, the current owner. She recalled Mrs. Manford as a “very lovely lady” whose spirit lingers. “The house,” Ms. Timal assured her visitor, “is still full of life and love.”
Saturday, January 12, 2013
From NPR: By Lily Percy
"Soon after the protests at Stonewall 40 years ago, the phone rang in the home of a soft-spoken elementary school teacher named Jeanne Manford," he said. A police officer told her Morty had been arrested.
"And then the officer added one more thing," the president continued. " 'And you know he's homosexual?' Well, that police officer sure was surprised when Jeanne responded, 'Yes, I know. Why are you bothering him?' "
The shy, petite woman from Flushing, Queens, N.Y., would become an activist for gay rights. She founded the national support group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, better known as PFLAG.
Manford died Tuesday at 92. Suzanne Manford remembers her mother's unyielding support. "When my brother needed her, she just dropped everything for him. She was like a mother bear," she says.
Suzanne was 21 when Morty came out as gay. A few years earlier, Manford's oldest son, Charles, had died from an accidental drug overdose. So when Morty ended up in the hospital in 1972 after being brutally beaten at a protest rally, Suzanne says her mother knew she had to act.
"My mother was beside herself with rage that anybody could hurt her child. She'd already lost one, and the fact that she could have lost another," Suzanne says. "She was seething."
After the attack, Manford wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Post, criticizing the police for not protecting him. "I have a homosexual son and I love him," she said. Two months later, she marched alongside Morty in what would eventually become New York City's gay pride march.
Eric Marcus, the author of a history on the gay rights movement in the U.S., says that move was unprecedented.
"It's a little hard to imagine now what that period was like, how revolutionary it was for a parent to walk in the gay pride march in New York City carrying a sign that said, 'Parents unite in support of our gay children,' " he says. "The timing was right, the time really called for someone like Jeanne, and Jeanne was there."
Then, in 1973, Manford organized the first formal meeting of PFLAG. She and 20 others gathered at a church in Greenwich Village. Soon after that initial meeting, she began to receive calls from other parents across the country wanting to start groups in their own communities. The organization has swelled to more than 350 groups nationwide with thousands of members.
One of those members is former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, whose son is gay. As a parent, he says, the support group just makes sense. "She thought it was just a normal thing to do as a mother," he says, "and that's true of most all the parents that get involved."
He and his wife joined PFLAG, seeking support and guidance from parents in similar situations. "They don't think they're going out there to become politicians or advocates in a unique way. They're doing what parents should do, which is care for their kids and keep their family together," he says.
Writer Dan Savage says his mother found solace in the group because it helped her understand what it means to be gay and to be the parent of a gay child.
"What Jeanne Manford did was she put it in people's heads that gay and lesbian people had parents," he says, "that we were somebody's children, and that was the first real big step in the movement toward full acceptance of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people."
Morty Manford passed away in 1992 of complications from AIDS. When he heard the news, New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm reached out to Manford. Dromm's mother was a PFLAG member and he was friends with Morty. He says he and Manford became fast friends the moment he set foot in her house.
"I walked in and Jeanne had pictures of Morty on the mantelpiece and she took them down, and she showed them to me," he says. "As a matter of fact, there was a famous photo of Jeanne marching in that first pride parade, and she was so proud of having that photo, that that moment was recorded in history."
Dromm says Manford received letters from gay people from all over the world, thanking her for standing up for them and for loving them unconditionally. It's that love, he says, he'll remember about her the most.
Friday, January 11, 2013
From the New York Times: By David Dunlap
After her openly gay son was beaten in April 1972 for protesting news coverage of the gay rights movement, Jeanne Manford, an elementary school teacher in Flushing, Queens, did not tell him to stop embarrassing the family. She wrote a letter to The New York Post criticizing the police for not protecting him.
Two months later, she walked alongside him in a gay liberation march, carrying a sign: “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.” These turned out to be the first steps in the founding of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now a national organization, which announced that Mrs. Manford died on Tuesday, in Daly City, Calif. She was 92.
“They were every gay person’s parents,” said Daniel Dromm, a member of the New York City Council from Queens, recalling that Mrs. Manford would comfort bereft young lesbians and gay men — estranged from their own families — who made their way to her three-story home in Flushing. (The Manfords were in the phone book.) While there, they might also get their teeth looked after by her husband, Dr. Jules Manford, a dentist.
Their son Morty had been a gay-rights advocate since his college days at Columbia University in the late 1960s.
In 1973, the Manfords and about 20 other people inaugurated Parents of Gays, a support program at the Metropolitan Community Church in Manhattan, which ministers to a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender congregation. Given the vacuum of publicly identified gay allies in the early 1970s, the Manfords almost could not help taking on a national role. They spoke out for their cause through television, newspaper and radio interviews, according to a short biography of Mrs. Manford that accompanies her papers at the New York Public Library.
“The group sought to give parents a place to ask questions, talk about their issues and begin to better understand their children,” the biography continued.
Representatives of parent support groups that had been springing up around the country met in 1979 to establish an umbrella organization. It took its current name in 1993 but is best known by the acronym Pflag. Its headquarters are in Washington. It has 350 chapters across the country and helps organize similar groups internationally. Mrs. Manford is identified as its founder.
She was born Jeanne Sobelson in Flushing on Dec. 4, 1920, to Charles and Sadie Sobelson and graduated from Queens College in 1964. She taught fifth grade, sixth grade and math at Public School 32 in Queens. Her husband died in 1982. Their son Charles died in 1966. Morty died of complications from AIDS in 1992. Mrs. Manford is survived by her daughter, Suzanne Swan, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters.
Her activism began after the 1972 Inner Circle dinner in Manhattan, an annual black-tie affair at which journalists and political leaders mingle. Mrs. Manford’s son was among a group of Gay Activist Alliance demonstrators who showed up at the event, at the New York Hilton, to protest news coverage. After a melee erupted inside and outside the hotel ballroom, Morty Manford accused Michael J. Maye, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, of kicking and punching him, an account corroborated by witnesses. Mr. Maye was acquitted of one count of harassment. Outraged by the attack, Mrs. Manford wrote a letter to The Post, then a liberal newspaper.
She later told Eric Marcus for his oral history, “Making Gay History” (2002): “I mentioned in my letter that my son was gay and that the police stood by and watched these young gays being beaten up and did nothing about it, and it was printed. Then Morty called me up and said, ‘You can’t believe how everybody’s talking about your letter!’ I didn’t think anything of it, but I guess it was the first time a mother ever sat down and very publicly said, ‘Yes, I have a homosexual son.’ ”
Mrs. Manford was just as surprised by the impact she had when she appeared at her son’s side during the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day march, a forerunner of the annual gay pride parade. She assumed that the cheers she heard were for Dr. Benjamin Spock, who was directly behind the Manfords in the march. It was not until bystanders began coming up to her with hugs and tears that she understood the cheers were for her.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
A Queens council member partnered with local dry cleaners to collect coats for New Yorkers in need.
Councilman Daniel Dromm and the Korean Dry Cleaners Association collected donations during the holiday season for New York Cares' annual coat drive.
On Wednesday, they presented the more than 100 coats they've collected.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
President Barack Obama praised Jeanne’s life and activism during a Human Rights Campaign dinner in 2009.
“That's the story of America, of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating and advocating for change," Obama said. "Of hope stronger than hate, of love more powerful than any insult or injury."
Her involvement began when her son, Morty Manford, was beaten during a 1972 Gay Activists Alliance demonstration. He had also been at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village during the police raid in 1969.
Jeanne, a softspoken Queens schoolteacher, was moved by her son’s experiences and angered by the failure of police to respond, according to PFLAG. She wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Post, stating, “I have a homosexual son and I love him.”
At that point, the American Psychological Association still classified homosexuality as a mental illness.
Her son, touched by her public show of support, invited her to another march later that year, the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, predecessor to New York City’s annual Pride Parade.
Jeanne walked right next to Morty during that march, carrying a sign that read “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children.” Parade participants approached her with hugs and tears, asking Jeanne to speak with their own parents to help them cope with coming out.
The sign soon inspired other parents to rally to her side. Twenty people attended the first PFLAG meeting, which was held the following year, according to PFLAG. The group, originally called "Parents of Gays," evolved into a supportive community that tried to help parents better understand their LGBT children.