One of the great things about living where I do is that I am represented by so many politicians I can support. When the call goes out for people to contact one of their elected officials in support of some piece of legislation, I can usually count on my rep having been one of the bill's sponsors. I'd like to introduce my readers to one such representative.
Danny Dromm was a teacher at PS199Q in Queens, NY. After eight years on the job, he came out as a gay man in 1992, sparking a controversy that became front page news across the country. He had to fight to keep his job, turning back several attempts to have him removed. He went on to win the "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" award in 2006 and was chosen as the "Educator of the Year" by the Kiwanis Club of Sunnyside, Queens.
He ran for the City Council seat in 2009, defeating his Democratic primary opponent, incumbent Helen Sears, by 10% of the vote. He went on to win the seat in November with over 75% of the votes cast.
Vitally active in Queens' LGBT scene, Danny is the founder and former co-chairperson of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, organizing the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival. He is aco-founder of the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG). He helped found Queens Pride House and co-founded the Generation Q Youth Services Program in Astoria. He co-founded the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens. But don't think the issues that concern him are all LGBT related!
Danny is a strong advocate for seniors, for the youth, for the marginalized members of our society. He serves as the Chair of the Council's Immigration committee and on the Education, Cultural Affairs, Libraries, International Intergroup Relations, Juvenile Justice, Parks and Recreation, and Veterans committees as well. He's been honored by the Sociedad Puertorriquena de Queens for his commitment to the Latino community, is a member of the NAACP - Corona/East Elmhurst branch and has also been honored by the Korean-American Association of Central Queens.
And he's not afraid to fight for the rights of those he serves, up to and including being arrested last June in an act of Civil Disobedience demonstrating for immigration reform.
On March 14, he hosted a dinner with his supporters and constituents, and there he discussed some of his legislative priorities for the coming year:
In an interview published today, Peter Murphy, a member of the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007, told the Washington Blade that he is gay.
With the pending vote on Marriage Equality still in question as legislators waffle on whether or not they will support the bill, having yet another member of the legislature come out to his colleagues (MD now has 8 openly LGBT legislators) could be of inestimable help. It is much harder to vote against the rights of people you know; many of Tom Duane's fellow members of the NY Senate said that it was their personal experience of working with him that influenced them to vote in favor of a similar bill last year.
One of the sponsors of the Marriage Equality bill, Murphy told the Blade, "I think it’s a strong civil rights bill. I think it’s a fair bill because it also addresses the religious issue and doesn’t require any religious organization to practice something that goes against their teachings."
In reference to formally coming out, Murphy says, "I have never denied [being gay... I just presumed people knew." He continued, "I just come here to do my work... I’m not a big social person. I’ve never felt any pressure from anyone to be anything but what I am."
In a statement, VP of Maryland Equality Lisa Polyak said, "We’re so grateful to have Del. Peter Murphy among the LGBT Caucus of Maryland. We’re gratified that he’s a supporter of marriage equality and the gender identity bill. It shows that LGBT people live everywhere in the great state of Maryland, including in the Southern Maryland delegation. We’re always happy to have the support of Del. Murphy and now more so as a member of the LGBT Caucus."
...and here's the completed video I promised you of yesterday's action in NYC. It includes footage of the planning session for the action, the complete action itself, and interviews with many of the participants, both before and after the arrests.
Shortly after 8 AM today, Queer Rising, an organization dedicated to achieving equal civil rights for LGBTs through nonviolent direct action, engaged in an act of civil disobedience, closing down Manhattan's Sixth Avenue just one block from Times Square in a protest against the failure of the NY State Senate to pass legislation legalizing Marriage Equality for all New York citizens.
As we post this story, the police are in the process of arresting the following protesters:
Kevin Beauchamp, 48 year-old, blind gay activist, partnered for 9 years; Nora Camp, 29 year-old queer activist; Natasha Dillon, 26 year-old lesbian activist and MBA student; Frostie Flakes (aka Adam Siciliano), 24 year-old drag queen activist and nightlife performer; Jake Goodman, 31 year-old queer activist and educator; Honey LaBronx (aka Ben Strothmann), 31 year-old drag queen activist, actor, & photographer; Eugene Lovendusky, 25 year-old gay activist, educator and NYCGMC member; and Kitten Withuwip (aka Caldwell) 24 year-old drag queen activist of color and actor/comedienne
From Queer Rising's statement to the press:
"The federal government has advanced the cause of marriage equality this week, with the decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act," said Queer Rising founding member Natasha Dillon. "But New York State shamefully lags behind on the issue. Marriage equality was defeated in December 2009 and the measure was not included in Governor Cuomo's 2011 Executive Budget. LGBTQ New Yorkers refuse to be persecuted, second-class citizens any longer!"
This past January, Queer Rising asked the Cuomo administration to include Marriage Equality in the 2011 Executive Budget. Marriage equality is legal in states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington D.C., and these places enjoy the income from such freedoms. However, New York State is losing valuable commerce and tax revenue from LGBTQ marriages happening in those neighboring states.
A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows New York State's support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high, with 56 percent supporting and 37 percent opposed. Earlier this week, the Obama administration declared it will no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage. The time is now for New York to bring equality to its citizens!
Here is the first video protest of the protest:
We will be posting updates with additional video footage as more information becomes available.