UPDATED: LGBTQ and Allies Letter to Mayor on City Participation in Discriminatory Parades

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Contact: Emmaia Gelman (917) 517-3627, emmaia.gelman@gmail.com


Dear Mayor de Blasio:

More than twenty years ago, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization sought to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue and was excluded. In 1993, parade organizers used a court case to declare it a private, religious procession whose anti-gay message would be controverted by the presence of an identifiable Irish LGBTQ group—even though LGBTQ groups are welcome in St. Patrick’s Day parades all over Ireland.

From then on, City leaders supportive of LGBTQ rights and dignity have boycotted the parade. But the Police Commissioner and thousands of uniformed police, organized by their precincts, have marched every year in this explicitly anti-gay parade. Firefighters and other City personnel also march every year in their official capacity.

The organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade have established a constitutional right to their exclusionary religious procession, but the participation of police and firefighters is a clear violation of the City’s Human Rights Law, appended below.

The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people. It confirms the practice of the NYPD and FDNY at times of targeting certain communities for discrimination. What’s more, it betrays the current work of high level government agencies and human rights advocates working internationally against the current wave of extreme anti-LGBTQ legislation and discriminatory practices occurring in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and Russia.

Indeed, legal precedent on this matter, in Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2d Cir. 2002), says: “The effectiveness of a city's police department depends importantly on the respect and trust of the community and on the perception in the community that it enforces the law fairly, even-handedly, and without bias. If the police department treats a segment of the population of any race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual preference, etc., with contempt, so that the particular minority comes to regard the police as oppressor rather than protector, respect for law enforcement is eroded and the ability of the police to do its work in that community is impaired.”

We are asking you to direct all City departments not to organize marchers for or allow personnel to participate in this anti-LGBTQ procession either in uniform or with any banner that identifies them with the City.

The 2014 St. Patrick's Day parade is approaching. We ask that you act immediately on this matter. We would be pleased to meet for further discussion on a timeline that addresses this year's march.


[Signatures as of 3/11/14. List in formation. Updates will be posted at http://irishqueers.blogspot.com/2014/02/deblasio-letter.html]


ACT UP/New York (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power)

African Services Committee - Amanda Lugg, Director of Advocacy

Brooklyn Community Pride Center – Erin Drinkwater, Executive Director

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities

The Center for HIV Law and Policy - Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director

Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) Steering Committee

Gay City News

Gay USA TV program - Ann Northrop, Co-host

GRIOT Circle - Katherine Acey, Executive Director

The International Action Center - Teresa Gutierrez, Co-Director

Irish Queers - Gaby Cryan, Emmaia Gelman & John Francis Mulligan

Jay's House - Jay Toole, Executive Director and Founder

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice - Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice Campaign for Police Accountability - Marla Erlien, Claude Heffron, Maya Orli, Daniel Rosza Lang/Levitsky

Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club - Allen Roskoff, President

Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn - Michael Czaczkes, President

Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ) - Michael Mallon, President

Lesbian Herstory Archives

Metropolitan Community Church of NY - Rev. Pat Bumgardner

Milk Not Jails

National Lawyers Guild, NYC Chapter

New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth - Kate Barnhart, Director

New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) - Stephanie Hsu, Secretary

New York City Anti-Violence Project

New York City Dyke March Committee

North Star Fund - Hugh Hogan, Executive Director

Out-FM on WBAI-NY – John Riley and Naomi Brussell

Peoples Power Assembly - Imani Keith Henry, Organizer

Picture the Homeless

Queens Pride House - Pauline Park, President & Acting Executive Director


Queers Against Israeli Apartheid-NYC - Brad Taylor

Q-Wave - Alain Chan, Steering Committee member

Stonewall Democrats of New York City - Melissa Sklarz, President


WNYACT (Western New Yorkers Against Conversion Therapy)

City Officials and former City Officials

Hon. Letitia James, Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. Eric Adams, President, Borough of Brooklyn

Hon. Mark Green, former Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. Betsy Gotbaum, former Public Advocate of the City of New York

Hon. John Liu, former New York City Comptroller

Hon. Brad Hoylman, New York State Senator, 27th District, Manhattan

Hon. Corey Johnson, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Mark Levine, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Rosie Mendez, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Helen Rosenthal, New York City Council, Manhattan

Hon. Ritchie Torres, New York City Council, Bronx

Hon. Ronnie Eldridge, former member, New York City Council

Hon. Herman “Denny” Farrell, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Richard Gottfried, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Keith Wright, New York State Assembly, Manhattan

Hon. Andy Humm, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Hon. Dr. Joyce Hunter, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Hon. James B. Levin, former New York City Human Rights Commissioner

Individuals (affiliations for identification purposes only)

Sammer Aboelela, Muslim community activist

Donna Aceto, activist, photographer and Gay City News freelancer

Curtis Arluck, Democratic District Leader, Morningside Heights

Nadia Awad

Mary C. Bakel, MSW, social activist

Sean Barry, Executive Director, VOCAL-NY

Mary E. Bartholomew, Esq., IPEC (Irish Parades Emergency Committee)

Hon. Marle Becker, NY County Democratic Committee

Jamie Bauer

Mark Black, veteran gay activist

Sandy Boyer, Irish community activist

Christopher Herman Brandt

Dwayne Brown, Executive Director, Jamaican Anti-homophobia Stand

Reginald T. Brown, M.Ed., Unity Fellowship of Christ Movement

Martha Burgess

Dennis Byrnes, Cranston, RI

Leslie Cagan, peace and justice organizer

Scott Caplan, Police Misconduct and Corruption Officer, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

George Carter, Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research

Sheri Clemons

Debra Cooper, Democratic State Committeeperson, Upper West Side

Peter Cramer

Michael Cunningham

Kara Davis, Queer activist

Brother Mark D’Alessio, SSF

Ann D’Ercole, Ph.D., Psychologist

Bill Dobbs, gay civil libertarian

Chelsea Dreher

Jack Drescher, MD, Clinical Professor, New York Medical College

Lisa Duggan, Professor, Dept of Social & Cultural Analysis, NYU

Hazel Dukes

Andrew El-Kadi

Hugh English

Lisa Fane

Brendan Fay, St. Pat’s for All, Founder and Co-Chair

Louis Flores, blogger

Jennifer Flynn, Managing Director, Health GAP

Richard Gamboa, artist/activist/academic

Robert Gangi, PROP (Police Reform Organizing Project)

Carl George

Kt Good

Ryan Green

Brother Mark Gregory, Society of St. Francis

Lisa Guido

Yvonne M. Harrison, Restoration Temple Ministries

Anthony Heilbut, author

Jenny Heinz

Ronald E. Hellman, MD, Director, LGBT Affirmative Program, South Beach Psychiatric Center

Geoffrey Hendricks, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University and former President of the Board of Visual AIDS

Tony Hoffmann, President, Village Independent Democrats

Douglas Jennings

Bishop Zachary Jones, Unity Fellowship of Christ Church

Jay Kallio, veteran LGBT activist

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz, retired Professor of Jewish Studies and Comparative Literature, Queens College

Esther Kaplan

Ken Kidd, Queer Nation NY

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

SL Korn, Queer activist

Mark Landis, Democratic District Leader, 67th Assembly District, Part C

Rick Landman, veteran gay activist

Bob Lederer, member of WBAI Local Station Board; contributing producer, Out-FM on WBAI radio

Glen Leiner, veteran gay activist

Scott Long, human rights activist

Harris Lirtzman, veteran gay activist

Alan Timothy Lunceford, End AIDS Now

Revd. Dr. Bernárd J. Lynch, Chair of Camden London LGBTQ Forum, England

Ronald Madson and Richard Dietz, plaintiffs in suit that won domestic partner benefits for all City employees in Lesbian and Gay Teachers Association vs. The NYC Board of Education

Anne Maguire

Eli Mayer, PsyD, Clinical Psychologist

Malachy McCourt, Irish Pagan and author

David M. McDowell, MD (psychiatrist), Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Mount Sinai Medical Center

David McReynolds, Socialist Workers Party

Mark Milano, ACT UP/NY

Patrick Moffitt

Megan Mulholland, Co-Director, QUEEROCRACY

Eileen Myles, poet

Kevin Noble, Irish community activist

Bernard O’Brien

Paul O’Dwyer

Edward Pass

Robert Pinter, Campaign to Stop the False Arrests

Jessica Rechtschaffer

Charles Rice-Gonzalez, author and co-founder of BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Nelson Santos, Executive Director, Visual AIDS

Elizabeth Savicz, teacher

Nathan M. Schaefer, Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda

Paul Schindler, editor-in-chief of Gay City News, and Bert Vaccari

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York-College of Staten Island

Arthur Schwartz, Greenwich Village District Leader

Elaine Shulman, President, Ansonia Independent Democrats

Charles Silverstein, Ph.D., Former Director, Institute for Human Identity

Jo Anne Simon, NYS Democratic Committeewoman and District Leader, 52nd Assembly District, Brooklyn

Trish Spoto

Armanda Squadrilli

Sarinya Srisakul, NYC firefighter and President of United Women Firefights

Jessica Stern, Director, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Colm Tóibín, author

Michael Tikili, co-founder and board member QUEEROCRACY

Urvashi Vaid

Andy Velez

Thomas S. Verni (Ret. Detective), NYPD Community Affairs, Citywide LGBT Community Liaison 

Shep Wahnon, veteran gay activist

Dr. George Weinberg, psychotherapist, author of Society and the Healthy Homosexual (1972) identifying homophobia as social ill

Seth Weissman, Victory Fund Campaign Board Member

Robert West, President/Founder, Breaking Bread Under the Rainbow

Edmund White, writer

Sherry Wolf, associate editor, International Socialist Review

Maxine Wolfe, Professor Emerita, City University Graduate School and Coordinator Lesbian Herstory Archive

Ellen Zaltzberg, retired City worker

Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike, THAW, and under DADAnewyork

Legal (affiliations for identification purposes only)

Susan Abraham, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Beena Ahmad, Civil Rights Attorney

Bina Ahmad, Criminal Defense Attorney and National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild

Afua Atta-Mensah, Attorney

Lee F. Bantle, Civil Rights Attorney

Melynda Barnhart, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Fran Bress, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Juan Cartagena, President & General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Ellen P. Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives, Columbia Law School

Elena L. Cohen, President, National Lawyers Guild-New York City Chapter

Kathleen Conkey, Attorney

Pamela Edwards, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Hillary Exter, public interest lawyer

J. Todd Fernandez, Human Rights Attorney

Joan P. Gibbs, Esq., Civil Rights Attorney

Mercer Givhan, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Julie Goldscheid, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Larry Grosberg, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Abdeen Jabara, former President, American Arab Antidiscrimination Committee

Ken Kimerling, Civil Rights Attorney

Alan Levine, Civil Rights Attorney

Arthur Leonard, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Richard A. Levy, Union and Civil Rights Attorney

Foster Maer, Civil Rights Attorney

Holly Maguigan, Professor of Law, NYU Law School

Carlin Meyer, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Benjamin Meyers, Attorney

James Meyerson, Civil Rights Attorney

Stephen A. Newman, Professor of Law, New York Law School

Gideon Oliver, Civil Rights Attorney

Edward Purcell, Distinguished Professor of Law, New York Law School

David Rankin, Civil Rights Attorney

Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

Andrea Ritchie, Civil Rights Attorney

Allie Robbins, CUNY School of Law

Franklin Siegel, Civil Rights Attorney

Jane Marcia Spinak, Clinical Professor of Law, Columbia law School

Michael Steven Smith, Esq., Member, Board of Directors, Center for Constitutional Rights

Martin R. Stolar, Civil Rights Attorney

Richard Storrow, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Peter Strauss, Distinguished Adjunct Professor, New York Law School

Nadine Strossen, Professor of Law, New York Law School and former President of the ACLU

Mark Taylor, Civil Rights Attorney

Susan Tipograph, Attorney

Bela August Walker, Associate Professor of Law, Roger Williams School of Law

Daniel Warshawsky, Associate Professor of Law, New York Law School

Rose M. Weber, Civil Rights Attorney

Melvin L. Wulf, former Legal Director, ACLU


Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York
Chapter 1 - Commission on Human Rights

§ 8-101 Policy. In the City of New York, with its great cosmopolitan population, there is no greater danger to the health, morals, safety and welfare of the city and its inhabitants than the existence of groups prejudiced against one another and antagonistic to each other because of their actual or perceived differences, including those based on race, color, creed, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, partnership status, any lawful source of income, status as a victim of domestic violence or status as a victim of sex offenses or stalking, lawful occupation, whether children are, may be or would be residing with a person or conviction or arrest record. The council hereby finds and declares that prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, and discrimination and disorder occasioned thereby threaten the rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants and menace the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state. A city agency is hereby created with power to eliminate and prevent discrimination from playing any role in actions relating to employment, public accommodations and housing and other real estate, and to take other actions against prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination and bias-related violence or harassment as herein provided; and the commission established hereunder is hereby given general jurisdiction and power for such purposes.