MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Apr. 2, 2020

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Williams Demands Answers on Rikers Island COVID-19 Outbreak

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams

Last Tuesday, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (D) wrote a letter to the New York City Department of Correction, after receiving complaints about the inadequate response to COVID-19 on Rikers Island.

As of now, the contraction rate in Rikers Island is seven times higher than in the rest of the City. Williams has received reports that the prison staff is not following social distancing guidelines and that inmates and staff are being denied sanitary supplies.

“While your current efforts to curb the impact of COVID-19 within our jails are noted, I still believe there is much more to do to curb the preventable rise of COVID-19 cases within Rikers, which is outpacing the rates of infection of the City,” reads the letter.

Read the full letter here.

Johnson Finds Franklin Graham’s Involvement in Relief Effort “Extremely Troubling”

Council Member Corey Johnson
Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

Last Tuesday, Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) released a statement regarding Pastor Franklin Graham’s role in managing New York’s Central Park COVID-19 field hospital.

Graham, the President of Samaritan’s Purse, is notorious for expressing virulently anti-LGBTQ views. As such, Johnson promised to monitor the situation for any signs of discriminatory treatment.

“Franklin Graham has a long history of spewing anti-LGBTQ hate speech and I find it extremely troubling that he and his organization are involved in our relief efforts in any way,” said Johnson. “New York City is known around the world for our embrace of diversity and Franklin Graham has spent his career standing against these values. I will be monitoring this situation closely and making sure that our city’s values are being represented at all times.”

Hoylman Discusses Lifting Restrictions on Gay Men Donating Blood

State Senator Brad Hoylman
State Senator Brad Hoylman

State Senator Brad Hoylman (D) appeared on an NY1 segment yesterday to discuss his efforts to abolish New York’s restrictions on gay men donating blood.

Recently, the FDA put out an urgent call for blood donations, due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatening our nation’s supply. However, our state laws bar many of its gay male citizens from helping in that way; in New York, gay and bisexual men can only donate blood if they have been celibate for at least a year.

The purpose of the law was to curb the transmission of HIV. As many have pointed out, though, straight people can carry HIV as well, and all blood donations are screened for the virus.

“I take it very personally, as a citizen,” said Hoylman, New York’s only openly gay state senator. “It suggests something, I think, very nefarious about gay men and our personal lives. I think it’s time to let science dictate policy, not homophobia.”

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