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The Battle for Intro. 2: The New York City Gay Rights Bill, 1971 – 1986

June 20, 6 pm7 pm.

RSVP: bit.ly/RH-620

Initially proposed in 1971, the Gay Rights Bill in New York City was the first of its kind in the nation, meant to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, and public accommodations. After 15 years of grassroots activism and strident opposition, the bill, known as local law Intro. 2, passed in City Council in 1986 by a vote of 21 to 14, making New York the 51st city in the country to pass such a measure.

Join us as we revisit the heated debates about gay and lesbian rights during the mayoralties of John Lindsay, Abe Beame, and Ed Koch—and consider the question of why it took so long for the bill to pass. Panelists will also discuss the roles of advocates like the Gay Activists Alliance and opponents including the Catholic Church, the Police Department, and the Fire Department.


Erik Bottcher (Introductory Remarks, he/him): Elected in 2021, Erik Bottcher is a New York City Council Member, representing District 3, which is made up of the neighborhoods Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and Hell’s Kitchen. His career in public service began in 2009 as the LGBTQ & HIV/AIDS Community Liaison in the City Council’s community outreach unit, where he organized grassroots campaigns on issues including hate crimes, transgender rights, housing for people with HIV/AIDS, and marriage equality. As the statewide LGBTQ Community Liaison in the governor’s office, Bottcher was a leader in the fight for marriage equality in New York State, working with activists from Buffalo to Montauk. Currently, he is Co-Chair of the LGBTQIA Caucus of the City Council.

Charles Brack(he/him): Chas. Bennett Brack studied documentary arts at Antioch College, graduating with a degree in cultural and interdisciplinary arts. Upon his arrival in New York City, Brack became involved in Men of All Colors Together, NY. Brack took a position at the New York City Commission on Human Rights in the Gay and Lesbian Discrimination Documentation Project/AIDS Discrimination Unit as Associate Video Producer. During his tenure, he co-founded and performed with Lavender Light Gospel Choir for over 15 years. As a result of his work with Lavender Light and the Black LGBT sacred community, he became a charter member of, and ordained as, a deacon in Unity Fellowship Church, NY. Brack’s professional career continued at The Gay Men’s Health Crisis as producer of their weekly AIDS information television magazine, Living With AIDS. He worked at Third World Newsreel, while distributing and touring with his highly acclaimed directorial debut, Dreams Deferred: The Sakia Gunn Film Project (2008).

Eldon Clingan (he/him): Eldon Clingan was born in Oklahoma City and raised in California. In 1956, he came to New York to attend Columbia University. He promptly joined the League for Industrial Democracy and from 1958 to 1959 served as national chair of the Young People’s Socialist League. Following graduation from Columbia in 1960, Clingan held various positions in nonprofit organizations and government. In 1969, as a member of the Liberal Party, he was elected Minority Leader of the New York City Council, representing the Borough of Manhattan.  In this position, he introduced the gay rights bill, the first in the United States. It was never expected to pass, but it served as a focal point and rallying cry for the nascent movement. In later years, he joined the financial and accounting world and moved to Massachusetts, where he established a tax and estate-planning practice in Framingham.

Stephen Petrus (Moderator, he/him): Stephen Petrus is Director of Public History Programs at LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. He received his Ph.D. in history from the CUNY Graduate Center and specializes in New York City history. Since 2017, he has co-curated six LGBTQ exhibits at LaGuardia, including A Seat at the Table, on LGBTQ elected officials in the New York City Council and the State Legislature; and First Grade Culture Wars, on the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum controversy of 1992 in New York City. Prior to his work at LaGuardia, he held Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships at the New-York Historical Society and at the Museum of the City of New York, where, in 2015, he curated the exhibition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival and co-authored the accompanying book, published by Oxford University Press. He is completing a digital exhibit on the 1986 New York City Gay Rights Bill, to be launched in June on the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives website.

Allen Roskoff (he/him): Allen Roskoff is a gay rights activist and a leader in the LGBTQ+ and social justice movements for over five decades. Roskoff helped achieve early victories for the LGBT movement, including co-authoring the nation’s first gay rights bill. He first got involved in 1970 when he joined the Gay Activist Alliance and became the chair of the Municipal Government Committee. Along with Jim Owles, he co-founded the nation’s first gay Democratic club. Roskoff has worked on hundreds of political campaigns since the 1970s, including the congressional races of Bella Abzug. He headed Lesbians and Gays for David Dinkins, Mario Cuomo, and served as New York State LGBT Co-Chair for Jesse Jackson for President in 1984.  Roskoff is proud to have established the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, bringing together hundreds of prominent members of the LGBT community, like-minded allies, party and elected officials, and members of the performing arts.

Katy Taylor (she/her): Katy Taylor is a lifelong activist and community organizer for human rights and economic justice. Born and raised in the Midwest, Taylor attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the mid-1970s moved to New York, where she became a member of the editorial collective Heresies, a feminist journal on art and politics. In the 1980s, she worked at the New York City Commission on Human Rights. From 1983 to 1985, she served as the Director of the commission’s Gay and Lesbian Discrimination Project, chronicling complaints of sexual orientation discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. She is also co-founder of the HIV/AIDS Unit at the city’s Human Rights Commission. Currently, she is a consultant focused on supporting liberation leadership and organizations globally.


This event is co-sponsored by LaGuardia Community College, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, and the CUNY LGBTQ Advisory Council. It is made possible by the generous support of the New York City Council and the CUNY LGBTQ Consortium.


47-49 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065 United States