Letters to the editor

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 305 | January 29 – February 04, 2004


Focus on the Judicial Appointments

January 20, 2004

To the Editor:

As a judge of the Criminal Court, appointed and/or re-appointed by each of the last three mayors, president of New York’s Association of Lesbian & Gay Judges, and a past president of the International Association of Lesbian & Gay Judges, I have a natural interest in the subject of Andy Humm’s article in the January 15-21 issue on the absence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people on the Bloomberg, Pataki, and Schumer judicial selection and screening panels (“Gay Absence on Judicial Panels).

In fact, there has never been an openly LGBT member of any selection or screening panel in New York, including those of Mayors Koch, Dinkins and Giuliani, Governor Cuomo and Senator Moynihan.

While having an openly LGBT panel member is certainly a justifiable and worthwhile objective and would send a welcoming message to potential applicants, it is ultimately a question of whether a mayor thinks it is important to appoint well-qualified openly LGBT judges, an attitude undoubtedly communicated to the panel regardless of the orientation of its members.

Mayor Koch appointed four openly LGBT judges during his twelve years as Mayor, starting in 1984, his seventh year in office. Mayor Dinkins appointed six in his four years in office. Mayor Giuliani appointed two in his eight years in office. While it is disappointing that it did not happen earlier in his term, Mayor Bloomberg began this year with the appointment of an openly gay man, Abraham Clott, to fill an interim vacancy on the Civil Court. Judge Clott comes to the bench from a distinguished career as a lawyer with the Legal Aid Society’s Federal Defender Division in Brooklyn, and is sitting in Criminal

Court in Manhattan.

Michael R. Sonberg

Acting Justice Supreme Court Bronx County

The Revolution Begins in Canada

January 22, 2004

To the Editor:

In response to Paul Schindler’s editorial, “The time for Leadership,” (Jan 15-21), I am interpreting his closing statements in as an open call for a leader of the revolution. Should this be the case, l would like to announce my candidacy, for what I shall call “Schindler’s list of potential revolutionary leaders.”

As a gay man I am very certain about the urgency of “naming” and “confronting” the reality that the very future of gay men as a tribe on this planet, in epidemiological terms, is presently unassured. At 29, I am very clear about my responsibility to share what I have learned in my human experience as a gay man and in my professional experience in HIV/AIDS as an education volunteer, epidemiologist, sexual behavior and substance use researcher; and advocate at the community, academic, government, industry and policy levels. I also understand that sharing what I have learned in the hopes of giving future generations of gay men a ‘better starting place’ requires social change at a revolutionary level.

I am deeply concerned about the ability of education, prevention, and advocacy to “hit the mark” in time. In 20 years of research and community mobilization, the epistemology of HIV/AIDS has evolved our understanding on practically every front of academic inquiry into the human condition. However, as Schindler and others have indicated, this has not equated into decreased rates of infection among gay men. While I believe hope remains in prevention and education initiatives, my feeling is that the real answer begins in addressing the social context of our nations––our planet.

I echo your call for leaders in the gay community to share what they have learned and to mobilize in a very high profile and conscious fashion, if for no other reason than to ensure that future generations of gay men may come to believe that they matter.

I would welcome the opportunity to speak to you further–– about my ideas, about what I have learned. I understand that a letter to the editor must be concise and direct. There is truly, so much more I would like to convey … care to put a microphone in front of me?

Chad Leaver

Toronto, Canada

CORRECTION: Due to a production error, in last week’s review of “Aunt Dan and Lemon,” by Elizabeth Andrews, the following quote appeared to be the words of the reviewer. In fact, they were words spoken by the character Lemon: “Now today, of course, everybody says, ‘How awful! How awful!’ And they were certainly ruthless and thorough in what they did. But the mere fact of killing human beings in order to create a certain way of life is not something that exactly distinguishes the Nazis from everybody else . . . Our human nature is derived from the nature of different animals, and of course there’s a part of animal nature that likes to kill. If killing were totally repugnant to animals, they couldn’t survive. So an enjoyment of killing is somewhere inside us, somewhere in our nature.”


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