Queens-based attorney Glenn D. Magpantay appointed to US Commission on Civil Rights

Glenn D. Magpantay at the 2016 Gay City News Impact Awards.
Glenn D. Magpantay at the 2016 Gay City News Impact Awards.
Donna Aceto

Queens-based civil rights attorney and professor Glenn D. Magpantay was sworn into the US Commission on Civil Rights on February 15 at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Queens Congressmember Grace Meng.

Magpantay, who was already an advisor to the commission, will serve a six-year term as one of eight commissioners. The commission is tasked with upholding civil rights law in the United States by conducting investigations pertaining to issues like voting rights and discrimination and issuing recommendations to congressmembers and the president.

The Commission on Civil Rights’ staff director, Mauro Morales, swore Magpantay into office on February 15.

“We are pleased to welcome Commissioner Glenn D. Magpantay to be a part of the US Commission on Civil Rights,” Morales said in an announcement. “His years of impactful policy-making experience in civil rights and in the federal government make Commissioner Magpantay an extraordinary addition to our slate of commissioners. We look forward to incorporating his experience and judgment in progressing the mission of the Commission, developing comprehensive civil rights policy, and overseeing the enforcement of civil rights laws.”

Magpantay is the principal at a non-profit legal firm called Magpantay & Associates, according to Crains New York, and serves as the chair LGBT Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. He has also worked for the Asian American Legal Defense Fund and juggled multiple teaching gigs — including teaching race and the law at Brooklyn Law School and Asian American civil rights at Hunter College.

Magpantay was honored at Gay City News’ Impact Awards in 2016 when he was the executive director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance. He is also a former co-chair of the Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York was a speaker at the 1994 National March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation.

Notably, Magpantay, who is Filipino-American, would be the only Asian American individual on the commission, according to Meng. The commission consists of four presidential appointees and four congressional appointees. Among the recent appointees include out gay former New York congressmember Mondaire Jones, who recently left Capitol Hill after one term in office.

“I am proud to recommend the exceptional Glenn Magpantay for the United States Commission on Civil Rights,” Schumer said in a written statement. The Senate majority leader said he is “ confident” that Magpantay “will bring his extensive legal, leadership and academic experience to his work on the commission.”

“Mr. Magpantay will be the only American Asian Pacific Islander on the commission and his appointment also enhances LGBTQ representation, and I am honored to recommend a commissioner who brings such thorough experience and expertise in American civil rights law, the Voting Rights Act and the values of equality and respect for all,” Schumer added. 

Meng, in a written statement of her own, described Magpantay as “an outstanding citizen, neighbor, civil rights attorney and activist.” She said he is one of her constituents in District 6.

“Few people have the experience and passion as Glenn and that is showcased through his decades of work at the Asian American Legal Defense Fund and as an LGBTQ rights activist, recognized across the nation,” Meng said. “Civil rights in the United States are a complex issue and they are best addressed through several different lenses. And while Glenn will be the only Asian American on the commission, his experience as a litigator, professor, activist, and author will bring a depth of knowledge that will help expand the commission’s ability to investigate claims of civil rights violations. Thank you to Senator Schumer for recommending such an amazing member of the Queens community, and I look forward to seeing all the work he will accomplish as a part of the commission.”

Magpantay could not immediately be reached for comment on February 15.