• Stonewall: A Beacon of Hope Fifty Years Later

    By: Owen Boice (MCDC 2019 Summer Intern) 

     

    Some events shape the history of civil rights. Stonewall is one of them.

    On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn—a safe-haven for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, located in Lower Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood—and attacked gay patrons. This event, alone, would not change the landscape of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

    What followed, however, did.

    For the next six days following the raid, riots broke out within the gay community. The abuse, harassment, and discrimination toward LGBTQ+ New Yorkers had reached a critical mass, leading to a turning point in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

    The community formed groups such as the Gay Liberation Front, Lamda Legal, and Human Rights Campaign, among others, began advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. In addition to formal organization, Stonewall also brought the existence of the LGBTQ+ community into the public’s consciousness.

    In the Greater-Rochester area, the Democrat and Chronicle published a four-part segment on the gay community in 1964—four years before Stonewall. The Rochester Gay Liberation Front facilitated a social event in 1971 to raise awareness about the gay community. The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley formed in 1973, and by 1989, a parade was added to the annual pride activities in Rochester.

    Even though the LGBTQ+ community still faces pervasive challenges today, Stonewall and its aftermath have been the impetus for a number of reforms. For instance, discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community was perfectly legal until 2003 when New York State passed an act prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. In addition, New York State laws also prohibited same-sex relationships until 1980 when the New York State Court of Appeals abolished the law. Gay couples were unable to marry until July 24, 2011 when New York State became one of the first states to enact marriage equality after Gov. Cuomo signed the legislation a month prior.

    While the memory of Stonewall remains a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community, it also speaks to New York State and Monroe County’s commitment to a more equitable society. This June, the LGBTQ+ community celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Stonewall—for the watershed moment it was and the civil rights movement it represents. Rochester commemorates the 50th anniversary this week (July 13th- 21st) as we stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ community!

  • Victor Sanchez for County Legislature- 21 District

    Victor Sanchez was born in Atlixco Puebla, a small city in Mexico and moved to the United States at the age of 6. After many years living as a legal resident, Victor felt the urgency to obtain his citizenship after the 2016 presidential election– not only because of what it could mean for his future (At a time where immigrants are being attacked at a federal level), but to secure his vote and voice for his community and country representation.

    A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology and currently employed at Wegmans Foods Market in its Development Group as a Building Information Modeling Coordinator, Sanchez has become embedded in the Rochester community since 2006 and is committed to several issues such as–but not limited to: the expansion of job training programs, increasing affordable housing, and strengthening minority ownership and hiring requirements for all county projects .

    Actively involved in the community; Victor currently is the Co-Chair of RocCity Coalition an organization with the objective to attract, retain, and empower young professionals in the greater Rochester area. He represents the Coalition in the Governor’s Regional Economic Council and the Roc The Riverway Management Entity Advisory Committee. He also focuses on goals to improve public transportation access through his work on the Reimagine RTS advisory committee and other transit organizations.

    Sanchez also works on increasing neighborhood stability and the quality of life through working with the Vacant and Abandoned Property Task Force led by County Clerk Adam Bello.

    As a gay person of color, Victor knows how important it is to reach out to members of the LGBTQ+ community who have often been marginalized. With this in mind, he worked to assist the Out Alliance with projects that seek to provide individuals with greater access to health and mental health services. Additionally, he is an active volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign of Western NY working to help support the organization’s mission to gain equal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. He also serves on the Board of Directors at Trillium Health, a health center that specializes in LGBTQ+ health care and supporting those living with HIV.

    Vote June 25th for Victor Sanchez for County Legislature- District 21!

  • Candidate Profile: Fatimat Reid for Family Court Judge

    The American Dream is alive and well in Fatimat Reid, a candidate for Monroe County Family Court Judge, who is a prime representative of this ideal. Her unique life story began in the state of New York, where she was born. As a child, her family moved to Nigeria, where she was raised during an important period of her life. She returned to the United States and then, at the age of ten, she became the subject of a Family Court custody action and spent time in foster care. These experiences give her a special perspective on Family Court. “I understand, from first-hand experience how frightening and frustrating court proceedings can be for children and all involved, particularly for those stricken by poverty and those with immigrant identity status.”

    Not only does Ms. Reid bring significant personal experience to the judicial bench from the perspective of a child involved in a family court case, she also brings extensive professional experience. Reid has established herself in the legal community as an attorney who has broad legal experience having served private practice as well as government entities. She currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Rochester City School District (RCSD). At RCSD she supports the school district’s mission of providing quality education while promoting wellness for all children and their families in the community. Ms. Reid commented, “I am honored to work in conjunction with educators and families serving the needs of all students”

    A passion for and knowledge of the law completes an impressive professional profile for Ms. Reid. She graduated from the University at Buffalo Law School and is a member of the Monroe County Bar Association, the Rochester Black Bar Association and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys. She began her legal career as an attorney with the law firm of Davidson Fink LLP and with Wolpoff and Abramson. Most recently, she has served as a City of Rochester Municipal Attorney and as an Associate Counsel for the Rochester City School District.

    Her campaign’s Web site lists and describes numerous awards and important recognitions that Fatimat Reid has received from the community and from professional organizations in Monroe County.

    When asked her perspective about current situations, such as the treatment many children and adolescents are experiencing at the U.S. southern border and other cases involving child abuse in Monroe County, she said that she will “adhere to and apply the law as it relates to each case that arrives in front of her with fairness and expediency.” In doing so, she always prioritizes “the well-being of children.”

    Reid also referenced the principles contained in the United Nations Declaration of Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN in 1989 and brought into force in September of 1990. That universal proclamation establishes the rights of the child with the goal that each child “may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his/her own good and for the good of society the rights to freedoms.” This document enshrines universal principles of justice that call “upon parents, men and women as individuals, voluntary organizations, local authorities and governments to recognize these rights and to strive for their observance,” concluded the judicial candidate for Family Court in Monroe County.

    Experience, fairness, and knowledge of the law: Fatimat Reid has it all!