Archive for the ‘events’ Category


Domestic Workers Bill of Rights introduced into NY state senate

May 1, 2007

This exciting May Day news just in from the folks at Domestic Workers United: last week, the New York State senate introduced the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (S. 5235). The bill sets a living wage, paid sick and vacation time, and advanced notice of termination for a workforce of nannies, house cleaners, and elderly care givers. These workers, who number over 200,000 in the tri-state area alone and are overwhelmingly immigrant women of color, are currently excluded from state and federal labor laws, leaving them with almost no worker protections. (to read the complete bill in all its legalese, click here, and then search for bill no. S05235).

From the press release:

“It’s about time we receive the protections we deserve. I personally have worked long hours, for poverty wages, been denied days off and treated as less than human. I don’t want another worker to go through that,” says Joycelyn Gill-Campbell, a nanny in Westchester. Employers have also expressed support for the legislation. Caroline Batzdorf, employer of a nanny, shared her experience: “Domestic workers make it possible for their employers to go to work and trust that our children and elders are well cared for. The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights provides much needed guidelines for us to know that these care-givers will be appropriately supported to do the important work that they do.”

No doubt that this bill has come so far because of the hard work of Domestic Workers United, their law students, and the countless allied organizations and unions who see the need for this bill, and are pushing for its support among their members and lobbying for it in Albany. If you’re in NY, your presence will be crucial at a Town Hall on June 7th, 6:30 PM at Judson Memorial Church. You’ll be hearing more from me about this event as it draws closer, but please consider joining us in affirming how important this bill is and what a vital role domestic workers play in making this city run.


Are We Tying the Knot Too Tight?

May 1, 2007

You know how rare it is to see an event that caters to the exact thoughts and questions on your mind relating to a very specific issue? Well here’s one really exciting event coming up at the Center here in NYC next week. From the Queers for Economic Justice list and website:

Off Center Presents:


Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 7:30PM

New York, New York—March 22, 2007—On Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 7:30pm, Off Center will present “Are We Tying the Knot Too Tight?: Gains and Losses in the Rush to Normalcy.” This moderated panel will address some of the issues the LGBT community faces when dealing with whether and how to support the movement for same-sex marriage.

If same-sex marriage becomes a reality, members of the LGBT community who choose to marry would be one huge step closer to full-fledged equality and protection under the law, attaining the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.

It has often been assumed that members of the LGBT community support the granting of marriage rights and responsibilities to those who would like to marry, but it is usually not discussed in terms of what, if anything, we would lose if same-sex marriage were to be legalized throughout the U.S.

What if the focus on marriage has functioned to obscure other aspects of our sex/love relationships that are not acknowledged or legitimized, and which legal same-sex marriage would push further into the closet and marginalize more over time?

The present focus on weddings, nuclear families, and having or adopting children leaves a lot of us out. Some of us do not want these normative arrangements, or we do not have partners who we wish to marry, or we do not want to raise children. We have more information about what will be gained with the granting of legal sanction to our relationships, but what if this rush to normalcy is contributing to a loss of the radical vision that critiqued the heterosexual norm and which once was so essential to the LGBT liberation movement.

Join us for a spirited discussion of these issues with panelists
o Joseph DeFilippis, Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice,
o Lisa Duggan, NYU Prof. of Social and Cultural Analysis
o Kenyon Farrow, writer and activist,
o Susan Sommer of Lambda Legal.

The panel will be moderated by Carol Buell, an attorney who has dealt with LGBT issues for many years.

“Are We Tying the Knot Too Tight?: Gains and Losses in the Rush to Normalcy” will take place at the LGBT Community Center located at 208 West 13th Street in New York at 7:30pm on May 9, 2007. The suggested donation at the door is $10, ($7 for Center members). All are invited to attend.


queer Purim

February 26, 2007

Purim is coming up, and I know that Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) always holds a fantastically queer and social justice-oriented Purim celebration. I also know that folks have been finding saltyfemme by googling ‘queer Purim’ but haven’t been finding anything satisfying (disappointed googlers find a post about growing up in a Havurah and why I hate gay marriage). Give them what they want, I told myself. First I must tell you that Purim is very very gay. Queer Esther and her ‘coming out’ as a Jew? The holiday where everything is turned upside-down, everything you take for granted is suddenly shaken loose from its foundation? Drag. Debauchery. Hello? Queer holiday if I ever knew one. You just have to be around the right crowd.

Which brings me to my announcement. If you live in New York City, I strongly urge you to get out your costume and join JFREJ for what I believe is their biggest social event of the year. It promises to be queer, so I’m told. I didn’t go last year because I was a hermit. I will hopefully redeem myself this year. I’m especially excited because the organizers themed the celebration in conjunction with JFREJ’s domestic workers justice campaign.

Saturday, March 3rd, 8pm-2am

Roti and Homentaschn: The Palace Workers Revolt!

A Purim Carnival Spectacular
Come see the hidden story of Shusan’s domestic workers revealed!
Location: Workmen’s Circle, 45 E 33rd (between Park and Madison)
to Nicole at or 212-647-8966 x10

Details: $12 at the door, No one turned away for lack of funds or costume
A raucous Purim carnival featuring outrageous performances, traditional Jewish and Caribbean food and drinks, and dancing to the sounds of klezmer, calypso, and marching bands! Revellers are encouraged to come in costume and see the Purim story as they’ve never seen it before! This event is co-sponsored by JFREJ and Workmen’s Circle in partnership with Domestic Workers United and Great Small Works.

Other resources on Purim as the homo holiday:
Gay Jews Connect Their Experience to the Story of Purim (From the Washington Post, two days ago)
Wrestling with Esther: Purim Spiels, Gender, and Political Dissidence (from Zeek, March 06)
High Healing: A Purim Message (From Jewish Mosaic, March 06) – This is a really fantastic piece – quick excerpt:

Some Kabbalists…taught that in the future days, the only two holidays to remain on the Jewish calendar will be Yom Kippur and Purim – two days that are complete opposites but are both days of sacred transformation. Our ancestors understood that the only way to live with laws is to break them from time to time – or nothing will ever change.