Bichotte Announces Task Force For Gender Identity Reforms

Reimagining The Democratic Party (3)

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Flatbush, Ditmas Park), as Chair of the Kings County Democratic Party, announced on Friday that she would form a 14-member task force to study the rules governing composition of the Party’s County Committee having its sole mission to consider the question of gender and gender identity discrimination and representation.

The present rules provide that each Election District is entitled to be represented by either two or four Committee members to be elected at the Primary Election when State Committee members are elected, i.e., in even-numbers years. The rules also provide that representation for an Election District shall be divided equally between males and females.

Rodneyse Bichotte
Kings County Democratic Party Chair and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte

“My Task Force will review the Party’s rules governing membership on the committee, the goal being to recommend to the Party’s Executive Committee proposals to remedy the foregoing situations and to review any related rule provisions governing the Committee’s composition. This will facilitate easier ballot access, expand participation among the rank-and-file party members, and bring the Party’s rules into the 21st century, all in time for the next election of Committee members,” said Bichotte.

“As a new county chair my first priority is to expand voting rights and the ability for all to participate in our democracy and run for office, and that very much includes individuals in Brooklyn regardless of identification as binary – male or female, nonbinary, gender fluid, genderqueer, or transgender,” she added.

The ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920 granted women the right to vote. In an effort to encourage women to participate in politics, in 1938 the State Constitution was amended to permit equal representation by sex on political party committees. The Brooklyn Democratic Party’s rules have provided for such equal representation, in reliance on such State Constitutional provision. Concomitantly, State Election Law mandates that in such instances, designating petitions must identify individuals separately by sex.

However, in recent years, societal views on gender identification have become more enlightened as there is now recognition of the fact that not all persons fit neatly within a strict binary division of genders. This has become an impediment for non-binary persons desiring to participate in local Democratic political affairs by running for the position of County Committee member. They are unable to comply with the aforesaid Election Law’s strictures.

Moreover, in the last two decades, a new political phenomenon has arisen in Brooklyn whereby women actually constitute a majority of the grassroots political activists. Limiting membership of women on the Kings County Democratic Party’s County Committee to 50% of the total positions serves to stifle full participation.

Aaron D. Maslow, a well-regarded Brooklyn Democratic election law expert and attorney, and past Legal Counsel to the New York City Board of Election, will be charged with chairing the Task Force, to be called the Kings County Democratic Task Force on Gender Discrimination and Representation. 

The following Brooklyn Democrats have also been appointed and agreed to serve:

  • Jared Arader, President, LAMBDA Independent Democrats of Brooklyn
  • Darma V. Diaz, Former State Committee Member, 54th Assembly District, and Democratic candidate for City Council, Nov. 4th General Election
  • Lisa Fane, Feminist, LGBTQ, former board member of LAMBDA Independent Democrats of Brooklyn and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats
  • Edu Hermelyn, State Committee Member, 43rd Assembly District
  • Samuel (Samy) N. Olivares, Incoming State Committee Member, 54th Assembly District
  • Julio Pena III, Incoming State Committee Member, 51st Assembly District
  • Jesse Pierce, Incoming State Committee Member, 52nd Assembly District
  • Josue Pierre, State Committee Member, 42nd Assembly District
  • Annette M. Robinson, State Committee Member, 56th Assembly District
  • Douglas M. Schneider, State Committee Member, 44th Assembly District
  • Josh P. Skaller, State Committee Member, 52nd Assembly District
  • Nancy Tong, State Committee Member, 47th Assembly District