NYC LGBT Political Clubs meet to discuss agendas for 2015 and 2016

On Wednesday November 19, 2014, the leaders and members from the major New York City LGBT political clubs met jointly at the LGBT Center in Manhattan to discuss the results of the 2014 election, issues and strategies for the 2015 session in Albany, as well as issues on the national level for the 2015/2016 session of Congress and beyond.

This joint meeting was hosted by Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC. The clubs invited to attend were: Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC (SDNYC), Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ), Lambda Democratic Club of Brooklyn, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democratic Club (GLID). Club Presidents Eunic Ortiz, Michael Czaczkes, Michael Mallon and Allen Roskoff were present as well as many other LGBT leaders, members and allies. Councilmembers Corey Johnson and Ritchie Torres were present. Matt McMorrow, Manager of Government Affairs, Empire State Pride Agenda and Brian Silva, Marriage Equality USA addressed the packed house.

McMorrow discussed the new political landscape in Albany, and the implications it has on LGBT legislative priorities. The priority of ESPA during the 2014 election was to elect a majority of pro-LGBT legislators to the NYS Senate who would support LGBT legislation especially GENDA. That included both Democrats and supportive Republicans. Republican Mike Grisanti was supported for re-election. He lost. His Democratic opponent is supportive of LGBT agenda items. Although the Republicans will control the NYS Senate in January, there is a possibility that three NYS Senate Republicans will be supportive of GENDA and that it can pass with the needed 32 votes. ESPA supported IDC and is looking forward to its continued support. Its passage is a priority.

Another bill ESPA is prioritizing is a Senator Brad Hoylman -Assemblywoman Deborah Glick bill that would prohibit state licensed mental health professionals from subjecting LGBT minors to conversion therapy techniques. Just last week, the UN Committee Against Torture expressed shock that it was still practiced in the US, which will hopefully result in an official condemnation of the practice in the coming months. Republican Senator Jack Martins is a co-sponsor and several other Republicans have expressed support. A third major priority in Albany is the Child-Parent Security Act. This is widely known as the surrogacy bill.

Another priority for ESPA is homeless LGBT youth. You, my readers can read about this in my column: ” Homelessness: The Bane of Our Society“. In conclusion, McMorrow said: “All of the victories our community has achieved in the past 20 years have happened when all of our groups work well together and do not allow minor differences to stand in the way from making progress on issues important to our community. Many of us are friends. Let’s continue this dialogue. Doing so will allow us to pass GENDA, advance our other legislative priorities, and elect a pro-LGBT government in 2016”

In his remarks, Brian Silva was happy to report that Marriage Equality is now in 35 states and in Washington DC. Unfortunately there are still 100 Million individuals who still do not have access to marriage equality. Nationwide, approximately 60% of the population supports equality. The strategy of MEUSA is a state strategy. That includes states such as Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, etc. Presently 18 states have GENDA provisions. There is a need to have the legal rights of all separate from the dogma of any religion.

Throughout the evening the rights of those who are transgender and International Transgender Remembrance Day was mentioned by all. On Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), we honor those whose lives were lost to anti-transgender violence, and we work to raise awareness around the staggering rates of brutality that still face transgender people. This year alone, the TVT Project reports that more than 200 people were murdered in acts of anti-transgender violence. Today, vigils and events are held around the country and around the world in remembrance of those we’ve lost to stigma and hate. We need to recall all hate regardless against whom it was done. “Trans Day or Remembrance is the day for trans people to mourn our many victims of violence throughout the country and to remind our allies that all trans lives matter. The word goes out today that we are becoming more visible, and united and powerful, and we will not be deterred from the fight for justice.” said Melissa Sklarz, New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO) “Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to remember and honor those members of our community who have lost their lives to violence. It also brings awareness to the need for continued support for the transgender community from our allies. We must continue to fight for justice for those who have lost their lives.” Bryan Ellicott, Transgender Activist

In addition to this joint meeting, Eunic Ortiz announced that the 2014 SDNYC Holiday Party will be held on December 10 at the Brass Monkey located at 55 Little West 12 Street in the West Village. Details will be forthcoming.

The January meeting of SDNYC will be devoted to homeless youth. The February meeting will be devoted to the elderly.

Stay tuned for updates and check out the SDNYC web site.

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