The LGBTQ protest of the homophobic, religious right NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade made big progress this year. The boycott made international headlines, and major sponsors dropped out.
But incredibly, the NYPD and FDNY still insist they have a “right” to join in with the homophobia, as if anti-discrimination laws (and the Constitution) are just a suggestion.
So we’re taking it to court. We’re bringing a lawsuit arguing that the NYPD and FDNY are sending a message that LGBTQ New Yorkers’ rights, safety, and inclusion really don’t matter to them, and our communities can’t rely on them. We’ll ask the court to make the City follow its own anti-discrimination laws and the Constitution.
We hope that challenging anti-LGBTQ bias in particular will help create the environment of accountability around NYPD and FDNY discrimination more broadly.
For information or to join the lawsuit:
firstname.lastname@example.org or (917) 517-3627.
Here's what the lawsuit will say:
- LGBTQ New Yorkers are supposed to have fair and equitable access to public services, including policing (suspend your critique of policing generally, for a second.)
- The NYPD's official participation in the explicitly religious right/homophobic NYC St. Patrick's Day parade tells the LGBTQ community that the NYPD, the FDNY, and the City are (still) not interested in our community's rights and safety, and that the NYPD is "more oppressor than protector" to the LGBTQ community, in the words of a federal appeals court.
- This bias denies LGBTQ people equal access to the services of the NYPD.
Here's what we hope the lawsuit, and the political organizing around it, will accomplish:
- Force the City (NYPD, FDNY, etc) to disassociate itself from the bigoted parade, and possibly force a change that takes the lucrative event away from the bigoted power brokers who run it now.
- Pose a serious and highly public challenge to the NYPD’s and FDNY’s bias and homophobia, and the permissive attitude of the City toward that bias.
- Weaken the power of the religious right in NYC (which is also currently challenging secular control of city schools.)
What does "joining the lawsuit" actually mean?
It means adding your name to the court document. The court document will make a claim about how NYPD homophobia (as expressed when thousands of uniformed cops march in a huge bigoted parade) affects the community in general, and you as an example. This lawsuit will not ask the NYPD to pay money for the harm it has caused.
Who can join?
- NYC residents who identify as LGBTQ
- including people who have not had direct experience of biased policing
- including people who have had direct experience of biased policing
- including people who are citizens, residents, green card holders, etc.
- NYC organizations who represent or serve LGBTQ people
Who should not join?
- People who don't live in NYC or aren't LGBTQ (because of the specific requirements of law -- not because we don't love you.)
- People who might have a problem with their legal residency status, outstanding warrants, or other issue that might be complicated if your name appears in a court document.
How much money will it cost you?
NONE. Our fabulous attorney and legal team are working pro bono (for free). We’ll be planning some fabulous community fundraising events to pay for court costs.
How much of my time will it take?
Not much, unless you want to pitch in with the organizing. We will be doing political and media organizing around the lawsuit, and you are welcome to join in that or not.
When we meet, the legal team will need to get a short statement from you about how NYPD and FDNY participation in the homophobic parade affects you.
Our lawyer says:
It's possible you would be asked to give testimony at a deposition (that is testifying, under oath, in a lawyer’s office, with a court reporter transcribing your testimony.) The process would take a few hours of preparation with the lawyer and up to seven hours (although usually less) at the deposition. Questioning would be about the subject matter of the lawsuit.
There may be times when it makes sense for us to show up in court, and for LGBTQ community members to testify about how the NYPD and FDNY participation affects them, if the lawsuit goes to trial. We'll need some folks to do that, but it's also absolutely fine if some of us cannot.