An Open Letter to NY Gov. Cuomo

(Excerpt from open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo from Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center in NYC.   Read the entire letter here)

Dear Governor Cuomo,

Last fall, I was honored to receive a call from your campaign staff inviting me to bring homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youths from the Ali Forney Center to a campaign event for you in Brooklyn with President Clinton. The youths were excited to see you and President Clinton, and we felt the invitation demonstrated a real concern from you about their lives and their plight.

Now, six months later, we are stunned and horrified by your proposal to put an end to any New York State support for homeless youth shelters. In New York City, there are 3,800 youth who go without shelter every night, over 1,000 of whom are LGBT. Fewer than 300 shelter beds currently exist for these kids, and every night, thousands are forced to fend for themselves on the streets.

Mr. Governor, I invite you to stop into one of our youth shelters. Maybe you can explain to our kids why they should be turned out of their beds and put in the street so you can give tax breaks to millionaires, to paraphrase your own father in his address at the 1984 Democratic Convention.

Maybe you could explain how they are supposed to survive alone on the streets at night. I don’t have an answer for them, and their pain and confusion are palpable.

Most of our clients are the most vulnerable LGBT youth in the community, rejected and abused by parents who cannot accept having gay children, discarded and thrown out of their homes simply for being LGBT.

The facts are shocking: studies show that 62 percent of homeless LGBT youth consider or attempt suicide, and 20 percent of homeless LGBT youth in New York City become infected with HIV.

On their behalf, I implore you to protect homeless LGBT youth, and all homeless youth, not leave them out in the cold. Your words and actions will have a direct impact on these young New Yorkers.

They at least deserve an explanation.

Carl Siciliano
Executive Director
Ali Forney Center
New York City

For more information about the Ali Forney Center, visit this link.

Geraldine Ferraro, 1st Female Vice-Presidential Candidate dies at 75

Geraldine Ferraro, the first Vice-presidential candidate in US history passed away today at the age of 75. She had been battling a form of blood cancer called multiple myeloma for 12 years.

“Geraldine Anne Ferraro Zaccaro was widely known as a leader, a fighter for justice and a tireless advocate for those without a voice. To us, she was a wife, mother, grandmother and aunt, a woman devoted to and deeply loved by her family,” the family statement said. “Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed.”

Ferraro, along with running mate Walter Mondale, lost in a landslide in 1984 to Ronald Reagan and George Bush with a popular vote total of 58.8% to 40%.

But Ferraro’s place in history will always stand as a “first” that helped open doors for women in untold ways.

Ferraro was born August 26, 1935 — Women’s Equality Day — in Newburgh, New York, to restaurant owner Dominick and Antonetta (Corrieri) Ferraro. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Marymount Manhattan College in 1956. Then, while working as an elementary teacher by day, she put herself through law school at night, earning a law degree from Fordham University in 1960.

She was first elected to public office in 1978 when she became the U.S. representative for the 9th Congressional District of New York. She was re-elected in 1980 and 1982.

During her three terms in the House, she championed the Equal Rights Amendment and sponsored the Women’s Economic Equity Act.

“Book of Mormon” opens on Broadway

The new Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” opened to rave reviews last night.

The NY Times Ben Brantley wrote: “This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it’s only some myth our ancestors dreamed up. I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water. So hie thee hence, nonbelievers (and believers too), to “The Book of Mormon,” and feast upon its sweetness.”

The New York Daily News wrote: “Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the envelope-pushing pair behind “South Park,” and Robert Lopez, the composer of “Avenue Q,” delivered this baby. And, oh boy, it’s a real winner. The show is blissfully original, irreverent, outspoken and hilarious. And all that’s tucked inside good — no, great — old-fashioned musical.”

The New York Post wrote: “Sure enough, “The Book of Mormon,” which opened last night, is all that — and much, much more. It’s a fiendishly well-crafted, hilariously smart — or maybe smartly hilarious — song-and-dance extravaganza. The show’s a hoot. The show’s a hit.”

So there you have it kids. Go see a real, bonafide Broadway hit with wit.

Benefit Album for Japan Catastrophe

iTunes, App Store and Mac App Store

As Japan recovers from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11, the world’s top recording artists respond to the tragedy with this benefit album. The 38 tracks include some of their biggest hits, featuring an exclusive remix of Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way,” Katy Perry’s “Thinking of You,” Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon,” Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” and more.

All proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross.

Target sues marriage equality group from asking supporters to sign petitions

In San Diego today, a court case is set to begin in which Target Corporation is suing an activist organization, Canvass For A Cause.

CFAC is being sued by Target to block them from asking customers outside Target stores to sign petitions to help the cause of marriage equality. Target has stated that they have no problem with the “message” – but say they have had  complaints by customers who don’t like to be bothered exiting the stores.

But CFAC says that other groups – from veterans organizations to the Girl Scouts – are allowed to approach customers and that Target doesn’t seem to have a problem with those groups.

CFAC also says all of their volunteers are trained to not be bothersome or rude. CFAC has asserted that Target, which has a history of anti-gay bias, is only trying to shut down organizations that support causes Target opposes. CFAC feels this is primarily a First Amendment issue.

Earlier this month, Lady Gaga cancelled a marketing deal with Target when discussions on improving relations between the LGBT community and Target failed to come together. Lady Gaga has been an out-spoken advocate for LGBT rights and equality.

Interestingly, there are reports that Target’s history of anti-gay bias has not kept Ricky Martin, recent GLAAD honoree, from developing his own marketing deal with Target. Ricky and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson recently performed in Minneapolis for 10,000 Target store managers. This is a common practice when recording artists want to encourage Target stores to sell and promote their music.

Colorado: Civil Unions passes in state Senate

Today the Colorado State Senate passed the current Civil Unions bill that would give same-sex couples many of the rights of marriage on a vote of 23-12.

It now goes to the state House where it might find more resistance since Republicans hold a slight majority.

House Republican leadership has promised a fair hearing. There are reports there is GOP support for this legislation – IF it can make it out of committee where it may get waylaid.

Polling has shown that 72 percent of Coloradans and 61 percent of Republicans in the state support civil unions.

Thinking good thoughts…