Tag Archives: LGBT

Queens lawmakers celebrate Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office


Updated 12:21 p.m.

Same-sex marriage is constitutional, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a 5-4 decision issued Friday morning, the court overturned state-imposed bans on same-sex marriage. The court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry under the 14th Amendment through the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

“The fundamental liberties” in the Due Process Clause “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs,” according to the decision.

Queens lawmakers and gay rights advocates – including City Councilman Daniel Dromm – expressed delight in the decision in statements issued Friday morning.

“Marriage is finally equal,” said Dromm, who is one of Queens’ two openly gay City Council members. “No longer will there be gay marriage or heterosexual marriage – just marriage. As someone who has been in the gay rights movement for over 40 years, it is difficult to express my sentiments. I never thought I would live to see this day. God bless America.”

Dromm will join other Queens LGBTQ activists and supporters on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office, located at 78-02 37th Ave., to celebrate the Court’s decision.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who is the second openly gay Queens City Council member, released a statement Friday together with his husband, Dan Hendrick.

“Today’s Supreme Court Decision is a landmark ruling making marriage equality the law of the land. Make no mistake, this decision is historic and breathtaking in its recognition of the equality inherent in love,” Van Bramer said. “We have been moved to tears this morning, knowing that the pain and stigma of being unequal is lifted. Of knowing that our relationship and our love is recognized by our country and is just as valid, beautiful and equal as any other.”

“Thanks to today’s ruling, same-sex couples across the country will no longer be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to issues regarding the family,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This is a great day for those who believe in the dignity of all people.”

“History will remember this day as a watershed moment, a day when ‘we the people’ took another major step toward justice in our enormous and enduring struggle to form a more perfect union,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley.

“When we passed the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, New York sent a message to the nation that it was time to end one of society’s greatest inequities, and I am thrilled to see the court join us on the right side of history,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Today, we are proud New Yorkers and proud Americans. Today, progress marches on.”

“One of my proudest moments as a legislator was my vote for marriage equality in New York State; today I am equally proud that the United States Supreme Court extended these rights to all Americans,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas. “This ruling sends a strong message that bigotry and intolerance will not be the law of the land.”

“Our country will finally afford millions of Americans the rights they have always deserved, but until now were unable to exercise,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Today, this country is richer – filled with more equality, more acceptance, and more love than yesterday. And for the people of this city, where the movement for LGBT rights began in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, we can be proud that we helped blaze the trail to this great victory.”

“From this moment on and for generations to come, marriage equality is a civil and human right for LGBTQ couples and no one – no matter where you live in this country or who you love – will be denied that right,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

“As has been said, ‘the arc of history is long and it bends in the direction of justice,” said Sen. Charles Schumer. “Thank you to five Supreme Court heroes for helping bend it a little sooner.”

The court was ideologically split in its decision, as Justice Anthony Kennedy – regarded as its most moderate member – sided in the majority with the court’s four liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. The conservative wing – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito – voted in the minority.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court

Photo courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court


De Blasio to be grand marshal of Queens Pride Parade

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio will make history in Jackson Heights next month as the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal in the 23-year span of the Queens Pride Parade.

De Blasio will join APICHA Community Health Center as grand marshals of the 23rd Queens Pride Parade, which will be held on June 7 and runs from 89th Street and 37th Avenue down to 75th Street.

“When I founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago, I was hopeful that we would increase the visibility of the LGBT community in Queens in a positive and impactful way,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Having the mayor of the City of New York as our grand marshal shows just how far we have come.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

“The mayor’s presence is an acknowledgment that the LGBT community in Queens and throughout the city is visible, welcome and included,” Dromm said.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

The theme of this year’s parade, which kicks off at noon, is “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers. Also at noon, the Queens Pride Festival begins along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival features close to 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances throughout the day until 6 p.m.

One of the day’s featured performers includes multi-platinum artist CeCe Peniston known for her hits “Finally,” “We Got a Love Thang” and “Lifetime to Love.”

“This year’s theme, Pride – Strength – Unity, highlights the diversity that is Queens. Queens has the largest number of language/ethnic groups in the whole U.S.A. Despite the linguistic and cultural vastness, we all come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue to work towards further advancements,” said Alan Reiff, co-chair of Queens Pride.

Days before the parade on June 4, Queens Pride will collaborate with NYC Pride, Brooklyn Pride, Staten Island LGBT Community Center, Bronx Pride, Chutney Pride and Out Astoria, to host a Pride Kick-Off Party at Studio Square, located at 35-33 36th St. in Long Island City. The event will benefit Queens Community House.

For more information, visit www.queenspride.org or email info@queenspride.org.


Push to rename Flushing street for gay rights activist

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Danny Dromm’s office

A trailblazing gay rights activist who left her stamp on the world as a historic and heroic leader may soon be memorialized on a Flushing street sign.

Community Board 7 passed a motion on Monday to honor Jeanne Manford with a street-name change for standing up for gays and lesbians at a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder.

Manford started a local support group in 1972 for parents of gays and lesbians. It turned into a worldwide movement called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) that now has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members in the country.

She also supported her gay son by famously rallying with him at the New York Pride March.

Manford died this January at age 92. She was posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.

“It’s emotional for me as an openly gay legislator in the City Council,” said Councilmember Danny Dromm. “What Jeanne did took extreme courage to do in 1972. Times have changed tremendously, but in those days, she could have lost everything.”

The lawmaker and community board want to co-name 171st Street, between 33rd and 35th Avenues, to “Manford Family PFLAG Way.”

The Manfords lived on the street and took in youngsters who were thrown out of their homes for being gay, Dromm said.

“Jeanne Manford was to us what Rosa Parks is to the black civil rights movement,” Dromm said. “It took an act of courage by a mother for the love of her son.”

However, Flushing resident James Trikas and board member Nick Corrado, who is also an FDNY chief officer, disagreed.

They said street-names should be reserved for military, police and fire department officers killed in the line of duty.

“If you want to memorialize things, well, put a plaque somewhere, landmark their house if you want,” Trikas said. “It does not belong on the street sign.”
Corrado, the only board member who voted against the motion, touted

Manford’s legacy but said it was not on the same level as those who serve the city, state and country.

“As wonderful as those acts of kindness are, I cannot, in my own opinion, say it’s the same as laying down your life — your life — for someone you don’t know at all in the line of duty,” he said.

Community Board 7 approved the proposal 30-1. The motion now needs approval from the borough president and City Council.

“If you open a history book on the LGBT movement, she’s in these books,” said Democratic State Committeeman Matt Silverstein, who is openly gay.

“This is someone who made an extreme impact on our community. I think it’s an incredibly deserving honor.”



Queens LGBT community speaks about fighting anti-gay crime

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A string of hate crimes toward openly gay people throughout the city have left members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community disturbed and looking for answers.

“We had hoped that it had quieted down,” said Anne Quashen, president of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Queens Chapter. “It seems that the snake has raised its ugly head again.”

On May 18, Mark Carson was fatally shot by a man who let out anti-gay remarks toward Carson and his friend as they walked in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Just a week later, a gay couple was verbally attacked and punched by two men as they walked in SoHo.

“We need a lot more discussions in the schools about why it’s wrong to attack people for any reason, especially if they are part of the LGBT community,” said openly gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

Both Quashen and Dromm believe it is important to educate children at an early age and also inform the community on why such crimes are not acceptable.

“People that are in the LGBT community are all part of the same big family,” said Quashen. “They are part of the same community and we have to take care of one another.”

In response to the series of hate crimes, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council’s LGBT Caucus announced they will be hosting free self-defense training across the city.
“These classes will empower men and women who might otherwise feel helpless at times when our city is experiencing an increase in attacks against our LGBT brothers and sisters,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “No one should be persecuted or attacked for who they are or who they are perceived to be.

The first class, led by the Center for Anti-Violence Prevention, will take place on June 8 at the LGBT Center in Manhattan. Additional classes in Queens will be announced in the upcoming weeks. To reserve a space, you can call 212-788-5613 or email events@council.ny.gov.




Online dating dangers highlighted after murders of two gay men

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm’s Office

Two similar murders of gay men within the last few weeks have highlighted the dangers of online dating, particularly in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the New York Anti-Violence Project and other community leaders are now stressing safety to make sure that people get to know someone a little bit better before inviting them home, especially if they meet on the Internet.

“Online, things might appear better than they really are,” said Dromm. “But you don’t really know someone until you meet in person.”

According to police and published reports, a recent murder victim, David Rangel, a 53-year-old public school teacher who was found strangled under the couch of his Jackson Heights home on January 27, may have met his killer online.

On February 9,  Joseph Benzinger, a 54-year-old gay man from Middle Village, was found dead lying on the floor of an Elmhurst hotel, also strangled, with a shirt wrapped around his neck.

Last week, Benzinger’s alleged killer, a 23-year-old Manhattan man, Lleuyel Garcia, was arrested and charged with robbery in addition to murder. Authorities believe that Benzinger and Garcia may have had a prior sexual relationship, but it wasn’t clear if they met online.

In both cases there were no signs of forced entry.

Though police don’t believe that the two murders are connected, their circumstances are enough to cause concern for some.

“These recent tragic incidents show us that this is the time for our community to join together to recognize that we not only deserve safety, but that we can create it,” said Ejeris Dixon, deputy director in charge of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

According to Dromm, the Anti-Violence project has seen an uptick in LGBT dating violence.

“A lot of it comes from having hooked up with people online,” he said.

With the uptick in mind, Dromm felt it was important to make the LGBT community, as well as others, aware of online dating risks and how they can minimize them.

If you do decide to meet up with someone you were introduced to online, said Dromm, meet in a public place.

“Go to your favorite café and make sure the waiter sees who you are with. If you meet someone in a bar, let the bartender know who the person is,” he said. “Go to your favorite café and make sure the waiter sees who you are with.

“Nobody is ever 100 percent safe,” said Dromm. “But [these tips] can discourage somebody from taking advantage of another person.”




Queens Morning Roundup

| brennison@queenscourier.com


Friday: Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 71. Southeast wind 5 to 7 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 58. East wind 5 to 7 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Halloween Haunted House

Visit for some thrills and chills! Stay for hayrides, treats, mulled cider and pumpkins on sale. Recommended for ages 4–12. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Queens police officer arrested in plot to kidnap, cook 100 women

A cannibalistic city cop from Forest Hills has been arrested by the FBI after the agency foiled an alleged plan he cooked up to kidnap and eat at least 100 women, according to a criminal complaint. Gilberto Valle, 28, a six-year NYPD veteran who works in Manhattan, had plotted to “kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women,” said the FBI, which seized the cop’s home computer containing e-mails and instant messages to a fellow conspirator. Read more: Queens Courier

Deranged nanny allegedly kills two children of CNBC media executive Kevin Krim and wife Marina

A deranged nanny stabbed to death a media executive’s two young kids inside a posh upper West Side apartment Thursday— and then slit her throat in a botched suicide attempt, police said. The children’s mother, Marina Krim, walked into her W. 75th St. apartment about 5:25 p.m. and found a scene of unimaginable horror: her 6-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son lying motionless in a blood-soaked bathtub. Each had multiple stab wounds.Read more: Daily News

City, Nassau police arrest second suspect in Cross Island Parkway shooting

Police arrested and charged a man Thursday with lending weapons to the suspect who allegedly killed a Nassau County police officer and another bystander on the Cross Island Parkway in Queens Tuesday. Authorities say Gerald Williams, 27, loaned a car containing a TEC 9 semi-automatic firearm and a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic pistol to Darrell Fuller on Tuesday. Read more: NY1

Music school administrator on life-support after brutal beatdown

A beloved music school administrator was brutally beaten by a stick-wielding thug while out for his usual midnight stroll, authorities said today. Lou Rispoli, 62, a longtime Sunnyside resident who worked in the West Village, is on life support in hospice care after an unknown brute pummeled him early Saturday. Read more: NY Post

Queens D.A. announces indictments in nationwide sports betting ring

25 people have been indicted in the nationwide sports betting ring that had tentacles in several Las Vegas casinos, where NYPD Inspector Brian O’Neil says operatives influenced legal betting to increase payouts. Read more: CBS New York

Black, Hispanic LGBTs more fearful than straights in stop & frisks

Black and Hispanic gays and lesbians in Jackson Heights are more likely to be harassed by cops than their straight peers — especially during stop and frisks, a new report claims. The Make the Road New York report, released Tuesday, also alleges that transgender women are particularly vulnerable to being arrested and charged with prostitution — often without cause. Read more: Daily News