2016-06-29 / Front Page

Rename Jackson Heights PO After LGBT Rights Advocates

Rep. Joseph Crowley speaks on the House Floor on his bill to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office after Jeanne and Jules Manford.
Rep. Joseph Crowley speaks on the House Floor on his bill to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office after Jeanne and Jules Manford. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, announced on June 21st that the House of Representatives unanimously passed his legislation to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford – the late Queens residents and national heroes who fought for the advancement of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Crowley introduced the legislation (H.R. 2607) in May 2015, and Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Senate companion bill this month. Ahead of the vote, Crowley spoke on the House Floor in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford.
“Last week, we faced a terrible and tragic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando. Today, we stand in honor of two individuals who, when faced with a hateful act of violence themselves, were inspired to start a movement couched in acceptance and support,” said Rep. Crowley. “Jeanne and Jules were instrumental in the fight for equal rights, and their incredible legacy can be felt throughout Queens, New York, and the entire country. It is only fitting that we name the post office that sits along the route of the Queens Pride Parade in their honor and I’m thrilled we are one step closer to that becoming a reality.”
Jeanne and Jules Manford formed Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) after their openly gay son Morty was beaten for protesting news coverage of the gay rights movement in 1972. The mission behind PFLAG is to promote the rights, health, and well-being of LGBT persons, as well as their families and friends. Today, the organization has expanded to include more than 350 chapters and over 200,000 members in all 50 states. It has become a positive and influential voice calling for an end to discrimination and for the attainment of equality.
“In the tradition of Queens, ordinary people become extraordinary. Mom and Dad were born in Queens and spent most of their lives there. Mom taught elementary school in Flushing, Dad was a dentist in Queens. They both worked in community groups to make Queens a better place to live,” said daughter Suzanne Manford Swan. “My parents were in the earliest gay pride marches supporting their son and his friends. After Jeanne and Jules started Parents of Gays – predecessor to PFLAG – in Manhattan, they helped to start a chapter in Queens. Jeanne and Jules wanted to help friends and neighbors in Queens to understand and support their children while experiencing great stress at a time when attitudes towards sexual orientation were changing. My parents were unassuming people who wanted to help others; I’m sure they would have been thrilled to know of this honor.”
“I applaud the House of Representatives for having passed Congressman Joe Crowley's legislation to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford," said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Jeanne and Jules Manford were the 'parents' of the gay rights movement. They allowed their home to be used as the cradle for gay liberation, and were the first parents of an openly gay child to support that child in public. Jeanne and Jules blazed new trails for the LGBT community by standing up for their openly gay son Morty Manford. This renaming is a fitting tribute to the Manfords and all that they believed. I thank Congressman Crowley for working to make this a reality.”
“PFLAG is grateful to Congressman Crowley for introducing this bill, which would rename the Jackson Heights, Queens New York post office in honor of our organization’s founder, Jeanne Manford, and her husband Jules Manford. Their work as outspoken advocates for their gay son – and for the LGBTQ community as a whole – radically changed the way the battle for equality was fought. By bringing the unique parent and ally voice to the cause, many found themselves supported and lifted up in a way that allowed them to join in the fight. This is a lovely and meaningful honor, made even more poignant this week, and reminds us all that parents, families, and allies are fierce advocates for fairness, understanding, and equality,” said Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director, PFLAG National.
“Jackson Heights is home to a vibrant, diverse and welcoming lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Andrew Ronan, Co-Chair of Queens Pride, the organizer of the Queens Pride Parade. “We strive to reflect the Manfords’ compassion in everything we do at Queens Pride. They are a shining example of how love and support foster healthy and safe communities. It is fitting that that the Jackson Heights post office is named after them and we are grateful to Rep. Crowley for ushering this bill through the House.”
The Jackson Heights Post Office is located on the route of the annual Queens Pride Parade, for which Jeanne served as the first-ever Grand Marshal. In May 2014, Crowley announced the introduction of a House resolution honoring the life and work of Jeanne Manford, who passed away on January 8th, 2013, at the age of 92.
The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

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