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NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to Boycott St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Gay Group Exclusion: VIDEO


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (right) is likely to boycott the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade again this year because of the lack of LGBT groups taking part, reports Irish Central.

Bill_de_Blasio_InaugurationIt has also been confirmed that a majority of City Council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, will not take part. The council boycotted last year’s event and withdrew its banner in protest.

Council member Daniel Dromm said:

“I won’t march until an Irish gay group can march. And there will be no council banner in this year’s parade – of course there won’t.”

Dromm added that the decision to allow non-Irish LGBT group OUT@NBCUniversal to take part in this year’s parade came about purely for corporate reasons.

Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer joined Dromm in highlighting the parade’s non-inclusive stance:

“Once again I will not march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This parade is still not fully inclusive of the thousands of New Yorkers who have been turned away for decades from representing their heritage.

"Until all New Yorkers are able to represent themselves freely and march as proud members of our city’s vibrant Irish and Irish American LGBT community I will continue to boycott this parade.”

De Blasio will march in the St. Pat’s for All parade in Queens on Sunday, March 1st.  Brendan Fay, a co-founder of the alternative parade, welcomed the decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to take part in the main parade but agreed with Dromm that it “is looking increasingly like a trick to maintain the parade’s corporate sponsors and ensure that NBC continues to broadcast the parade.”

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny will not be taking part in this year's New York parade.

Following a boycott by several of NYC's prominent gay bars, last year Guinness announced that it had dropped sponsorship of the parade.

Watch a report on LGBT protests at the 2014 parade, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to Boycott St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Gay Group Exclusion: VIDEO" »

Obama, Holder, and De Blasio React to Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner Case: VIDEOS


Attorney General Eric Holder said this evening that the U.S. Department of Justice will open a federal civil rights investigation into the Eric Garner case after a  Staten Island grand jury voted to bring no criminal charges against a white police officer who placed Garner, a black man, in an illegal chokehold which killed him in July.

Said Holder:

"All lives must be valued. All lives. Mr. Garner's death is one of several recent incidents across our great country that have tested the sense of trust that must exist between law enforcement and the communities they are charged to serve and to protect. This is not a New York issue nor a Ferguson issue alone. Those who have protested peacefully across our great country following the grand jury's decision in Ferguson have made that very clear."

President Obama and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio reacted swiftly to the news of the grand jury's decision.

De Blasio became emotional during the press conference, telling reporters that he had to warn his own son about police officers that may not be out to protect him.

Said De Blasio:

"This is profoundly personal to me. I was at the White House the other day, and the president of the United States turned to me, and he met Dante a few months ago, and he said that Dante reminded him of what he looked like as a teenager. And he said I know you see this crisis through a very personal lens....And I said to him I did. Because Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face. A good young man, law-abiding young man who would never think to do anything wrong. And yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face, we've had to literally train him—as families have all over this city for decades—in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him."

Said Obama in a separate statement:  

"We are not going to let up until we see a strengthening of the trust and a strengthening of the accountability that exists between our communities and our law enforcement."

Watch Holder, Obama, and De Blasio speak, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Obama, Holder, and De Blasio React to Grand Jury Decision in Eric Garner Case: VIDEOS" »

Irish LGBT Activists Protest Gay Group In New York St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO


Irish LGBT activists are protesting against the decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to take part in next year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade because the event continues to exclude other gay groups, reports Newsweek.

OUT@NBCUniversal, Universal’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Straight Ally Employee Alliance, will be the first LGBT group to participate in the parade.

This year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio boycotted the parade because of its anti-gay policy. The City Council, many Irish politicians and Guinness followed suit. Despite this, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny made the decision to take part last March.

In a letter to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, activists from groups including Irish Queers argued:

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb0798ec48970d-800wi“Instead of that pressure leading to Irish LGBTQ groups taking their rightful place in the community’s parade, OUT@NBCUniversal has jumped into the space it created.

"OUT@NBCUniversal is the gay employee/marketing group of the parade’s sponsor. The Irish LGBTQ community is still excluded from the parade. The ‘lifting of the ban’ is a sham.”

The letter also reiterates recent demands that OUT@NBCUniversal “withdraw from the parade until Irish LGBTQ groups are part of the parade” and calls for de Blasio and Mark-Viverito to boycott next year’s event.

Irish Queers was denied a request to take part in 2015 because organizers say the parade is full. It is thought that two other Irish LGBT groups’ applications were also denied.

De Blasio and Mark-Viverito have both indicated that they have yet to make a decision regarding next March 17th.

Watch a report on the fight for LGBT inclusion in the New York parade, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Irish LGBT Activists Protest Gay Group In New York St. Patrick's Day Parade - VIDEO" »

Tim Gunn Denounces Homophobic Drivers, Carriage Trade in Letter to NYC Mayor De Blasio: VIDEO


Towleroad has obtained a letter sent by Project Runway fashion guru and animal rights activist Tim Gunn to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to crack down on hate speech by NYC carriage drivers and citing a May 23 incident captured on video in which a driver called a passerby concerned about horse welfare a "faggot" several times. Gunn notes that it's not the first time a driver has been recorded using homophobic behavior. You can watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

GunnGunn uses the letter to also urge de Blasio to get the horses off the streets.

The letter below was also copied to the City Council's gay caucus and also references a July 2012 incident in which one of the drivers verbally assaulted a group of women leafleting near the carriages, calling them a "f--king dyke convention":

The Honorable Bill de Blasio Mayor of New York City

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I'm among the 30,000 New York City PETA members who applaud your plan to retire the carriage horses. However, as we await a City Council bill, I urge you to address the relentless, hateful bigotry that's thriving in the city's tiny horse-drawn carriage trade. Carriage drivers have been filmed spewing all kinds of racist, sexist, and homophobic taunts at caring tourists and local citizens who dare to express concern for the 200 horses who are forced to lug carriages on our city's dangerous streets.

As NYC Pride approaches, I ask you to watch this video, taken just last month, showing the latest anti-gay tirade from a carriage driver. It happened on May 23, when driver Omer Biyikoglu called a concerned passerby a "faggot," among other antagonistic slurs, when questioned about whether it was legal to tie his horse to a light post in the midst of midtown traffic. Instead of answering the question, the smirking driver declared, "I don't f-ck guys," and walked away.

This isn't the first time such a disgraceful exchange has taken place on our streets. During 2012 Pride, another carriage driver called a concerned, elderly, mixed-race lesbian couple "ni**er" and "dyke." (You can view the video footage here.) And it's not just the drivers: Stable owner Frank Rodden was caught on tape calling a Latina woman a "whore" in Spanish and joking to his cronies—in front of the public—that she "probably has six or seven kids." The woman had simply asked if his horse was OK.

Mayor de Blasio, it would be unacceptable for any worker representing the city to taunt the public with hate speech—but these individuals are on the frontlines of the city's hospitality industry! Are these the type of people we want greeting families and tourists from around the world? I'm proud to live in Manhattan, it can be a haven of tolerance, but the carriage drivers are warping it into a hotbed of hate. Bullies such as the drivers in these videos disregard not only the suffering of animals but also the basic rights of New Yorkers.

You have spoken so lucidly on this issue since before your election, but since you took office, there have been accidents causing continued animal suffering and threatening public safety. One driver falsified department of health records in order to force an old asthmatic horse to work, and another was arrested for making a horse pound the pavement despite a painful hoof infection. As the steamy summer months set in, when can we expect you to get these abused horses off the streets?

I eagerly await your reply.

Kind regards, Tim Gunn

Watch the clip of the carriage driver using homophobic slurs, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents workers in the horse carriage industry, released a statement in response to the video:

“The comments made by a carriage driver in the video circulated by PETA today are insensitive and wrong. They do not represent the views of the people who work in the industry.

“The Teamsters celebrate the diversity of our union and of our city. We are proud that many of our members are part of the LGBTQ community, including carriage drivers. The union is there to fight discrimination at work and in society.

“The Teamsters do not tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic language from members. We also will not tolerate the continued harassment from protesters. Carriage drivers work in public and have been subject to a relentless barrage of harassment from protesters at their workplace. And despite these constant provocations, inappropriate responses are rare.”

Continue reading "Tim Gunn Denounces Homophobic Drivers, Carriage Trade in Letter to NYC Mayor De Blasio: VIDEO" »

Coalition: De Blasio Must Not Allow Uniformed Officers in Explicitly 'Anti-Gay' St. Patrick's Day Parade

A huge coalition of LGBTQ organizations and allies are continuing to pressure NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to stop allowing uniformed police and fire officers to march in the "explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory" NYC St. Patrick's Day parade, saying that De Blasio's solution — that he would not march but they could — is not satisfactory.

DeblasioThe group responded to De Blasio yesterday with another letter:

Yesterday a broad-based community letter called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to direct NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to stop sending uniformed officers to the nation's largest anti-LGBTQ event—the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. In response, the Mayor has ducked and punted, saying only that he won't march himself. This isn't much to be celebrated: no truly progressive politician has marched since the parade banned the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization from marching with its banner in 1991, and Mayor Dinkins stood alongside ILGO only to be pelted with beer cans.

The parade is explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory. Because the NYC Human Rights Commission said it violated the City's human rights law in 1992, parade organizers sought deliberately to define it as a private and religious event in order to continue to exclude LGBTQ people. Indeed, John Dunleavy, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman, infamously compared LGBTQ marchers to the KKK being allowed to march in an African-American parade in Harlem.

Police and firefighters march by the thousands, making up most of the parade. (Did you think it was a celebration of Irish pride? That’s so 1992.) Their uniforms clearly convey that the City endorses the march. The Mayor's cavalier dismissal of the City's human rights law today compounds that effect. We get it: we LGBTQ people don't matter.

When NYPD and the FDNY wear their official work uniforms and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, they diminish their sworn respect for the laws of this great city and violate the spirit of the city’s human rights law. Employers make rules about uniforms and that’s the issue in dispute – the wearing of official uniforms which conveys to the world that this parade’s bigotry is endorsed by our city government. But the law protects us, and we will insist that the Mayor uphold it. We are told that we can march if we don’t identify ourselves in any way. If that is the way we are to be treated, then City personnel should march as individuals with their counties but not in City uniforms. While we protest the rising homophobia in Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, we seek to end homophobic discrimination here at home as well. The St. Pat’s Parade has a right to its anti-gay march under the constitution. But the City and all supporters of human rights must do everything we can to isolate it.

The full list of LGBTQ groups and allies signing the letter can be found HERE.

NYC Mayor Won't March in St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Gay Exclusion; Says Workers Can

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio says he'll continue a personal boycott of the St. Patrick's Day parade because of its "exclusion of some individuals in the city," Politicker reports:

DeblasioSaid De Blasio:

“No I am not planning on marching in the parade, I haven’t in the past in my capacity as a public official,” he added. “I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city … But I simply disagree with the organizer of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in the city.”

The mayor says, however, that he won't stop uniformed city workers from doing so:

“I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to. And I respect that right."

The parade bars the participation of gay groups.

Gay City News had called on the mayor to ban uniformed workers from marching in an open letter signed by many LGBT rights organizations

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.”


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