Friday, May 02, 2008

Congratulations are due: Gloria A. Casarez and Jacque Larrainzar

News came to me this week of a couple of political appointments in two different US cities that warmed my heart.

First was Gloria A. Casarez (right) who I remember meeting years ago in Philly when she had just taken over David Acosta as Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI) in 1,999.

She still holds the post but on Tuesday came word that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter had named Casarez as the mayor's LGBT Liaison Officer ("Nutty appoints city LGBT liaison," The Philadelphia Enquirer, April 29, 2008).

Local Spanish-language newspaper Al Dia reports that even though Casarez will not take charge of the designation until June, she is already taking a stand on a thorny issue that came up Tuesday when Democratic State Senator Vincent Fumo argued during a forum that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples would be akin to voting in favor of slavery and denying civil rights and liberties to African-Americans ("Fumo says he was exaggerating," Philadelphia Will Do, May 1, 2008).

Casarez told Al Dia that using slavery as a metaphor "is an error, since it leads public opinion to be distracted from the issue."

In the meantime Jacque Larrainzar (left), a self-described "Mexican-born Basque-Lebanese lesbian" who lives in Seattle, Washington, and has served as the city's Acting Policy and Outreach Manager for the last 10 months, was offered the permanent position this week and accepted it.

Julie Nelson, Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights said:
She brings intelligence, creativity, passion and commitment. In addition to being with the City for eight years, beginning as a Planning and Development Specialist, she has worked at many community based organizations, including Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Washington Lesbian Organizing Project of the Pride Foundation, People of Color Against AIDS Network, Entre Hermanos, Safe School Coalition and the Northwest Women's Law Center. She is a strong leader, both within the City and in the community. We are lucky to have her working at the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.
Both are amazing women. Congratulations to both.

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