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Paul Feinman becomes first openly gay judge on Court of Appeals

(ALBANY, NY) Wednesday, Oct. 18 – The New York LGBT Network praised and applauded Justice Paul G. Feinman, the first openly gay judge to be sworn into the New York Court of Appeals – the state’s highest court.

“This historic day will serve as a groundbreaking moment for so many young LGBT people in our community who may have never have thought it was possible to obtain such a prominent position while also being able to stay true to oneself, said Dr. David Kilmnick, President and CEO of the New York LGBT Network. ”

During Justice Feinman’s month long nomination process, Governor Andrew Cuomo called him a “trailblazer,” and state legislators from both parties sang the Justice praise for his tremendous qualifications and dedication to the law.

“Justice Feinman will be an excellent addition to the New York State Court of Appeals,” said Dr. Kilmnick. “I thank him for his service, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo and so many of our New York State lawmakers for having the wisdom and foresight to choose him.”

The New York LGBT Network is a home and voice for LGBT people, their families, and support systems of Long Island and New York City. The LGBT Network has a 24-year history of pioneering advocacy and change to promote safe spaces, not only within its programs, but in schools, workplaces, organizations, and in the greater community.

 

Lambda Legal blasts Sessions for rollback of civil rights

Today, Lambda Legal blasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Senators challenged Sessions’ efforts to roll back the civil rights of the most vulnerable Americans, including a number of policies, statements, and actions directly targeting LGBT people, women, people of color, religious minorities, and immigrants.

Sessions’ testimony comes just weeks after a series of high-profile attacks by DOJ against LGBT people, including its efforts to convince courts that federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination do not cover claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, its support of anti-LGBT groups’ efforts to shield businesses that want to deny service to LGBT people from the application of state and local non-discrimination laws (as outlined in a brief filed with the Supreme Court in September), and its directive to federal agencies to create broad licenses to discriminate on the basis of religion.

“Jeff Sessions has weaponized the Department of Justice, and has used his authority to terrorize vulnerable communities, including LGBT people, Muslims, and immigrants. In addition to his other offenses, Jeff Sessions has seized every opportunity to advance his goal of placing anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace and the marketplace beyond the law’s reach, particularly when that discrimination is cloaked in the language of religious liberty,” said Sharon McGowan, Director of Strategy for Lambda Legal, and former senior career attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

“DOJ’s war on civil rights grows without restraint,” McGowan continued. “Its hostility has been aimed at women, people of color, religious minorities, immigrants, and most notably LGBT people – whom Sessions has targeted since his first day on the job. He has made schools less safe for transgender children, workplaces less secure for LGBT employees, and marketplaces less accessible to LGBT customers. Jeff Sessions may try to obscure his anti-LGBT agenda by touting his interest in prosecuting anti-LGBT hate crimes, but the American people are not so easily duped. Jeff Sessions has been in the business of opposing equal rights for LGBT people for decades. Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions now has an army of Justice Department lawyers that he can commandeer to advance this agenda. We call upon Congress to continue its oversight of the Department of Justice, but make no mistake about it: Lambda Legal stands ready to defend LGBT people against Jeff Sessions’ homophobic and transphobic agenda.

“We are grateful to the Senators who called Jeff Sessions to account for the anti-LGBT positions that he has directed his Department of Justice to advance.  Notwithstanding his empty words about not feeling any ‘hostility’ toward the LGBT community, Jeff Sessions’ answers today reveal his disdain for the civil rights of LGBT people.  Specifically, Sessions repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to ignore case law with which he personally disagrees, including the case law holding that LGBT people are protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by existing non-discrimination laws forbidding sex discrimination.  Moreover, and in stark contrast to the leadership of former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, Jeff Sessions has charged his Department of Justice with making arguments in court designed to restrict the scope of protections under existing civil rights laws.

“While Jeff Sessions talks about the need to ‘balance’ LGBT equality and religious freedom, there is no denying that Jeff Sessions has joined forces with those organizations seeking to rewrite the law to create a religious license to discriminate.  There was clearly not enough time for the Senators to press for answers on all of the areas of concern with respect to Sessions’ assault on the civil rights of LGBT people and other communities.  The Senate must continue to keep a close eye on the Attorney General and demand that the Department of Justice get back into the business of doing justice, particularly for the LGBT community and the other groups that this Administration has targeted.”
Sessions’ transgressions against LGBT Americans during his first nine months in office include:

February

  • Rescinded the Obama administration’s 2016 Title IX guidance detailing protections for transgender students under Title IX.

March

  • Appointed Steve Cook, a notoriously racist former federal prosecutor in support of lengthy prison sentences (even for nonviolent crimes), as associate deputy attorney general.
  • Abandoned its defense of the nondiscrimination provisions in the Affordable Care Act protecting transgender people from discrimination in healthcare.
  • Withdrew a motion for preliminary injunction against North Carolina’s anti-transgender House Bill 2, which had – until then – prevented the state from enforcing the law.
  • Cancelled a long-planned National Institute of Corrections broadcast on “Transgender Persons in Custody: The Legal Landscape.”
  • Announced review (and likely scaling back) of consent decrees designed to address systemic police violence.

April

  • Cancelled important quarterly conference calls with LGBTQ organizations.
  • Abandoned their lawsuit against North Carolina’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ House Bill 2.

May

  • Ordered federal prosecutors to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences, even for nonviolent crimes, reigniting the racist “War on Drugs.”
  • Defended Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” in federal court.
  • Attacked and attempted to shut down the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) a legal services advocacy group that opposes Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban.”

June

  • Asked the Supreme Court to let Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban” take effect.
  • Advanced, with Jeff Sessions’ blessing, the nomination of Eric Dreiband, a lifelong opponent of civil rights, to head the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.

July

  • Switched sides in a Texas voter ID challenge to join forces with Texas Attorney General and defend a racially discriminatory law.
  • Filed a brief at the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that the Civil Rights Act does not protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Ordered a push to investigate and sue universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to “discriminate” against white applicants.

August

  • Supported voter suppression efforts in Ohio.
  • Continuously refused to release information about the decision to withdraw guidance detailing the protections transgender students have under Title IX, despite Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

September

  • Targeted 800,000 young people for deportation by announcing the rescission of DACA.
  • Argued against LGB employees at the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Filed a brief at the United States Supreme Court arguing for the constitutional right of businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.
  • Outlined plans to undermine due process for immigrants.

October

  • Reversed DOJ position that federal law protects transgender workers from discrimination.
  • Released the sweeping “License to Discriminate” guidance, outlining a pathway for discrimination against LGBT people, women and religious minorities.
  • Sought to dismiss the claims of transgender military service members against Donald Trump’s “Transgender Military Ban” by arguing that nothing bad had really happened to them (yet).

 

What is Pulp Fiction…and we don’t mean the movie!

By Bruce C. Woolley, Ph.D., Alliance Library and Archives

Not so very long ago, homosexuality was never spoken of and anyone who felt a same sex attraction had a real challenge trying to get useful information. It was easy to believe that you were the only one around who was that way – queer!

A chance personal encounter, perhaps stumbling upon a gay bar, happening to find a library book that did not terrify in condemning homosexuals, this was pre-Stonewall reality. But a different opportunity did exist. Your local soda shop or newsstand might offer a rack or two of pulp fiction. Scattered among these various inexpensive paperbacks were likely to be some lesbian and even some gay novels.

Printed in reduced “pocket” size on cheap, pulp paper, many of these books featured scandalous content and even more lurid come-on cover art. A series of court decisions during the 1960’s brought an end to the harshest censorship. Pulp fiction flourished and became increasingly lascivious and lubricious – true “dirty books”.

Because they fuel the masturbatory fantasies of straight men, very many lesbian novels were published, most written by men under female pseudonyms. There were, however, some pulp books written by women for women whose authentic expression of lesbian experience could be insightful and instructive. These provided women in cities and even isolated geographies the opportunity to learn about same sex relationships and that many strong, like-minded women were out there.

Pornography has a purpose that’s probably not suitable for an afternoon chat with grandma and gay pulp fiction offered unabashed sex, lots of sex. Horney protagonists modeled more than just libidinous activity, however. They clearly identified as gay and displayed a range of options by which a confident gay man might live his life without question, compromise, or embarrassment. A burgeoning sense of gay community is present in pulp fiction. Also, changing customs, popular language, and a view of largely secret, underground gay life in decades now long past are all documented here and almost nowhere else. Fifty or sixty years ago, we remind ourselves, very little of any aspect of “gay” was written down, on purpose in order to avoid the condemnatory actions of a largely hostile world.

The Alliance has long archived a large collection of pulp fiction. These “dirty books” are not listed in the catalog and, while we have been confident of the value of maintaining this collection as an aspect of our heritage, we haven’t been exactly loud and proud about it. But in January 2016 a lengthy article in the New York Times revealed the huge collection of every kind of pornography long held in secret at the New York Public Library – that famous urban monument with the guardian lions.

In the 1960s to 1980s, the heyday of pulp fiction, librarians from New York Public made regular purchasing forays a couple of blocks away to Times Square’s notorious sleazy book stores. If these dedicated professionals were certain that all manner of pornography documented aspects of American life and the spirit of their day, we at the Alliance became all the more sure of our collection’s importance. In addition to pulp fiction, we hold sexually oriented magazines, videos, DVDs, even old film reels, and all of our materials, like the Library itself, have been gifted to us. For example, a large collection of libidinous items, including 114 volumes of pulp fiction, is the recent gift of a distinguished local nonagenarian.

Long dismissed as trash, pulp fiction goes beyond the sexual to depict many different aspects of our past. From necessarily cautious beginnings in the 1950’s to the eruption of sexual revolution through the 1970’s and beyond, pulp fiction confirms, documents, and reveals LGBTQ community in a way not available elsewhere.

 

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