Gay Rights Bill Passed by Committee Amid Cheers and Catcalls With PM-Justice-Homosexuals Bjt
NEW YORK (AP) _ A gay rights bill opposed by the Catholic church and Orthodox Jews will get City Council consideration next month after a committee for the first time in 12 years approved a measure banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
″It’s time New York joined 50 other cities and communities around the country″ that protected homosexuals, Councilwoman Ruth Messinger said Tuesday night after the Committee on General Welfare passed the measure 5-1 at the end of a raucous, emotion-filled 10-hour hearing.
The measure, which would bar discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation, goes to the full 35-member council March 20. It will take 18 votes to pass the bill; supporters and opponents both claim to have 17.
But the New York Post, in a survey published today, found that 19 members of the Council were in favor of the bill, 12 were opposed and four were undecided.
The bill was first proposed in 1971 and has gone before the full council only once before, and was defeated, in 1974.
Council Majority Leader Peter Vallone, who opposes the bill, said if it passes the full council, a move might be started to get the issue on the ballot in a referendum in November.
Councilman Noach Dear, many of whose constituents are Hasidic Jews, was the lone vote against the measure, and said that the bill’s passage would be met with legal action, as well as a referendum to overturn it.
Sixty-three people spoke against the bill Tuesday and 64 spoke for it, including Mayor Edward I. Koch, who said that the measure, Intro 2, ″doesn’t require anyone to place an imprimatur on homosexual or bisexual lifestyles.″
The remark drew an angry chorus of hoots from about 50 Hasidim, who stood with their backs to Koch as mayor spoke in favor of the bill.
Broadway producer Joe Papp, another supporter, said at one point, ″I’m a little upset with my fellow Jews, who should be thinking about Germany and what happened in Germany.″
″The enactment of the legislation, essentially a government sanction of immoral practices, would send a clear and strong message to society - that homosexuality and bisexuality are perfectly acceptable,″ said Lt. Col. Wallace C. Conrath, commander of the Greater New York Division of The Salvation Army.
Brother Patrick Lochrane, representing Cardinal John O’Connor and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, said the church considers homosexual activity morally wrong and that enactment of Intro 2 ″would represent a major victory in their efforts to see homosexual and lesbian behavior condoned as a matter of public policy.″
One person was ejected after heatedly interrupting discussion between two members of the committee with opposing views on the bill. Another was escorted out when he and others interrupted former U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug.
″Every human being in our society is entitled to the constitutional and human rights that have been denied to the gay and lesbian community,″ Mrs. Abzug said.