NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall’s Errol Louis visited City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s 25th city council district in Queens.
Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) recently co-named the corner of Whitney Avenue and Ketcham Street in Elmhurst as Steven R. Trimboli Way. The co-naming was done to honor the memory one of Elmhurst’s most active residents who passed away in 2003. Many community leaders including Assembly Member Francisco Moya were on hand for the unveiling of the street sign.
“Steven Trimboli was a role model community leader – one whom residents should know about and emulate,” said Dromm. “He contributed to the community in so many ways. Steve was a founding member and past president of Community Board #4, President of the Italian Charities of America, and an advocate for cleaner streets and a better neighborhood.”
NEW YORK – A resolution calling on the US Congress to pass and President Obama to sign the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011 was introduced at the New York City Council yesterday.
City Council member representing Queens– Daniel Dromm– introduced the resolution that pushes for HR 210 — The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act– that would grant full benefits to Filipino veterans who fought alongside US soldiers during World War II.
Democrat New York City Council Member of 25th District, Daniel Dromm said, “If you fight for our country, if you sacrificed your lives for our country it’s deserving of equal recognition and dignity and support for those Veterans as well.”
But the Rescission Act of 1946 took away the recognition of the US military service of Filipino World War II veterans.
Of the 66 allied nationalities who fought for the US, only Filipinos were the only ones not recognized as full American Veterans.
Dromm says, he knows what it’s like to be disenfranchised and discriminated as an openly gay City Councilman—he said his past experiences prompted him to support this cause.
“I’m also a member of the LGBT and we have been disenfranchised,” Dromm said, “So I know what the sting of discrimination feels like, so when I hear of situations where people have been discriminated against, left out, not acknowledged for, I know what that feels like, that’s really my main motivation for wanting to create justice for all people in this country.”
Supporters from “Justice for Filipino American Veterans” say it’s about time New York City help the aging Filipino Manongs.
Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan member Chevy Evangelista said, “As of right now there are 94 co-sponsors for HR 210 in the U.S. Congress at this point, medyo mabagal, there’s a change of political climate, so it’s really a good time for NY City Council to pass this resolution.
Linda Oalican of Damayan Migrant Workers Association said, “Ang magagawa ng mga Pilipino dito ay ang mag-organize and talk about this issue, this issue is about us, it’s about the dignity of our people especially us here in the U.S.”
If more city council members get on board with the resolution, Dromm says, a hearing may soon be conducted for Filipino Veterans– before the Resolution will be put to vote on the city council floor.
Elected officials, gay rights advocates and veterans celebrated in Jackson Heights on Saturday after a Senate vote paved the way for the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the military policy which prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly.
On Wednesday, President Obama signed legislation that will bring an end to DADT.
For some Queens residents, the moment was emotional. Gay Army and Navy veteran Denny Meyer of Kew Gardens said he was “ecstatic” when he heard the news. Meyer is the president of the New York chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights. “We have been working on it for six or seven years,” he added.
Meyer served from 1968 to 1978, but never came out as gay. “In those days the phrase was we ‘served in silence,’” he said. “In those days, if you were found out, you could be killed, and if you weren’t killed, you would be dishonorably discharged.”
However, according to Meyer, times have changed. “Today many young people serving in the military have never been in the closet, they came out in junior high school.”
Meyer said DADT forced people back into the closet or left them to come out at their own risk.
The policy prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military. More than 14,000 men and women have been discharged from the armed forces since 1993 under DADT, according to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.
Though the repeal has been set into motion, it will not immediately take effect. Military leaders must first examine and re-write policies and certify that repeal won’t negatively impact the armed forces.
Under DADT, investigations are not supposed to be initiated regarding sexual orientation, but if servicemember is reported to be openly gay, there could be a hearing and he or she could be discharged.
Former Queens Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Dan Hendrick said that was exactly what happened to him in 1992.
A Navy linguist for over three years, Hendrick expressed interest in another service member whom he thought was gay. Rather than simply rebuffing him, the man reported Hendrick. An administrative hearing was launched and Hendrick was publicly confronted by his accuser.
He said it was a traumatic experience. His clearance level was downgraded and his colleagues knew something was going on. People stayed away from him for fear of being implicated. “It’s a bit of a blemish to have been kicked out,” Hendrick said.
He had to return home and explain what had happened to his family. “I had to come out to my family. It sort of hastened all that process,” he said.
Rather than going back into the closet as a gay man, he went into the closet as a veteran. “It made me be quiet about my military experience,” he said.
Now a spokesman for the New York League of Conservation Voters, Hendrick said he cried when watching the vote on Saturday. “This means the government and Congress is catching up with society,” he said.
Hendrick’s discharge papers gave him an unfavorable re-enlistment code. It is his hope that men and women discharged for being gay will be able to change that code so that they may re-enlist if they chose to.
“One of the next steps is correcting the record of history and really celebrating the contributions of gay servicemembers,” he said.
The repeal of DADT will enable gays and lesbians to have military careers, he added. “Being in the military had been the only profession where you were compelled to be let go if you were found out,” Hendrick said, noting the milestone.
Still, gays and lesbians are often subjected to workplace discrimination, according to openly gay Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).
At a celebratory press conference in front of a U.S. Army recruitment office on Roosevelt Avenue, Dromm said he was happy that the government was moving to repeal DADT and looked toward the future. “Now, we must move forward and press Congress to pass the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would forbid discrimination in the workplace,” he said.
The bill would make it illegal to discriminate against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been introduced continuously since 1994.
“Unfortunately, many states still do not protect members of our communities from this type of discrimination and people still get fired for being LGBT,” Dromm said.
Though there are many hurdles faced by members of the LGBT community, the proposed repeal of DADT brings hope.
“This is a long road. There is work behind us and there is work in front of us. I think marriage equality is really the next big thing,” said Hendrick, who resides in Sunnyside with his long-term partner, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
City Council Member Daniel Dromm was elected to serve as Chair of the Immigration Committee. Dromm will also serve on these committees: Education; Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations; Juvenile Justice; Parks; and Veterans.
Daniel Dromm is a teacher and democratic district leader who is no novice when it comes to city politics. We believe that with Mr. Dromm’s experience and fresh ideas, he will be a good councilman, a voice for his district and will have a better relationship with veterans than Ms. Sears.
Veterans returning home from active service often face an array of issues during their transition from a military to a civilian lifestyle. While it’s understood that most legislation to assist veterans usually comes through the federal government; when an individual returns home, they return to their local communities and back to some issues they left behind. As such, they find themselves looking to city agencies and local services to assist them. Therefore, our local government has a duty and an obligation to step up and do more than just thank veterans for their service.
We encourage all veterans to become active in their communities, to make their voices heard and to make a difference regarding issues that affect not only the veteran’s community, but their local community as well. Most importantly, we remind all veterans to VOTE on September 15.
City Council, District 25 – “The incumbent is Councilmember Helen Sears. She voted “YES” to extend term limits. Encompassing one of the most diverse districts in the city, Ms. Sears has little to no record of supporting or assisting veterans over the course of her 8 years in the council. Daniel Dromm is a teacher and democratic district leader who is no novice when it comes to city politics. We believe that with Mr. Dromm’s experience and fresh ideas, he will be a good councilman, a voice for his district and will have a better relationship with veterans than Ms. Sears. Mr. Dromm is endorsed by the New York Times. We recommend Daniel Dromm.“