Community Honors Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin
Trans icon, civil rights leader remembered at their former New York homes on August 24
Qween Jean delivers a speech near a Trans Flag at Washington Square Park.
Many in attendance pay tribute to Marsha P. Johnson’s love of
colorful, fl oral headdresses.
The crowd participates in a moment of silence at Washington
BY DONNA ACETO
The local queer community assembled
on August 24 to remember the lives of
Marsha P. Johnson and Bayard Rustin,
two pivotal queer fi gures whose
legacies have continued to live on decades after
Marchers celebrated what would have been
Johnson’s 75th birthday and marked the 33rd
anniversary of Rustin’s death on that day in
1987. Strategy for Black Lives led the organizing
effort alongside Breathe, Starr, Black on Pride,
the Descendants, Qween Jean, Queer March,
and Gays Against Guns New York.
The event kicked off at Rustin’s former residence
at 340 West 28th Street in Manhattan
before proceeding to Washington Square Park.
The march concluded with a birthday celebration
for Johnson at Christopher Street’s Pier
A smaller crowd helped kick off the march
from Rustin’s former residence, but at Washington
Square Park the group grew in size by a
couple hundred individuals. Folks sang happy
birthday songs and held moments of silence
as they honored a pair of notable icons of the
The event also shined a spotlight on racism
and police brutality facing Black Americans.
Rustin, who played an important role in the
civil rights movement and navigated fi erce homophobia
that impacted his career, died at his
Manhattan home of a perforated appendix 33
years ago. It has been 28 years since Johnson,
a veteran of the Stonewall Uprising, was found
dead in the Hudson River less than a week after
the city’s Pride March in 1992.
➤ GAY CHOIR DIRECTOR, from p.24
excessive entanglement with religion. The court
noted that the ministerial exception does not
shield churches from liability for breach of contract
or for negligence and intentional infl iction
of harm. And, of course, the Catholic Church
has been sued in locations worldwide for their
priests’ sexual exploitation of children, and
they have also been prosecuted by the state for
Hamilton asserted that subjecting churches
to Title VII lawsuits on hostile work environment
claims — at least at the stage of a motion
to dismiss a case — was no more onerous in
terms of church-state entanglement.
Judge Joel Flaum, the senior member of the
panel in his years of service on the court, dissented.
Appointed in 1983 by President Ronald
Reagan, Flaum is one of the most conservative
judges on the circuit and he rejected the majority’s
assertion that the ministerial exception
should be limited to tangible employment actions,
despite language Hamilton quoted from
Supreme Court’s opinions supporting that view.
To Flaum, subjecting the church to any judicial
intervention on a personnel matter was a serious
invasion of its religious freedom protected
by the First Amendment.
The panel’s ruling not only confi rmed Judge
Chang’s decision to allow Demkovich to pursue
his ADA claim, but also revived his Title
VII claim, so the church’s gamble on escaping
liability altogether has backfi red, potentially
broadening its liability. At the same time, the
court was careful to state it was not deciding
the merits of Demkovich’s claim, only whether
the facts he alleged could, if proved true, provide
a basis for imposing liability on the church.
Hamilton noted that lower federal court decisions
— some pre-dating the Supreme Court’s
ministerial exception cases — are divided about
whether there is a distinction between tangible
and intangible personnel actions taken by religious
congregations. So, St. Andrew might be
able to interest the high court in resolving this
issue, especially in light of its members’ recent
interest in the intersection of religion and antidiscrimination
Hamilton was President Barack Obama’s
fi rst court of appeals nominee in 2009. Judge
Ilana Rovner, who joined Hamilton in the majority,
was appointed to the court by President
George H.W. Bush in 1992 but originally had
been appointed to the district court by Reagan
— ironically when Flaum was elevated to the
court of appeals.
GayCityNews.com | September 10 - September 23, 2020 25