A group of non-binary political candidates sued the Brooklyn Democratic Party and the city’s Board of Elections because their ballot petitions only allowed male or female gender designations, demanding that the party drop parity rules between initially intended to bring more women into the political sphere.
The six Brooklynites running for membership on the party’s county committee — the lowest rung of elected office — allege the party and government agency violated their right to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, according to the April 3 lawsuit.
A complainant expressed disappointment with the lack of recognition of non-binary identities in the political process.
“For me, as a trans person trying to engage in local politics, it was disheartening that there were only two options at the county level. You have to declare that you are male or female,” said Derek Gaskill, who identifies as trans male.
Gaskill and his fellow plaintiffs – who compete to represent sections of Williamsburg, Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant – all filed petitions in March with signatures from local voters to run for county committee in the June and November elections. However, they left the gender field blank because the sheets only had male or female options.
They identify through an array of gender-nonconforming identities, including non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer or transgender, according to the lawsuit, which was organized by the reformist club New Kings Democrats.
They allege that the Board of Elections then filled in the gender designation without their consent, assigning them false genders based on their names.
A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment on ongoing litigation.
The plaintiffs argue that the Kings County Democratic County Committee must overturn its gender parity rules, based on state election law, which require each county constituency and each State Assembly District must have a number of men and women representing the areas. For example, each assembly district must be represented by a male and a female district leader.
While these rules were originally intended to encourage more women to join the historically male-dominated political sphere, they promote the exclusion of non-binary people, according to Gaskill.
“I think it’s important to discuss and honor the progress made with these rules, but it’s equally important to remember that many women’s rights movements have excluded trans people,” he said. -he declares.
The Brooklyn party recently scrapped leadership gender parity rules when the top brass elected Congresswoman Rodneyse Bichotte as the party’s new leader to succeed Frank Seddio, making her the first woman to hold the post.
The rules stated that the president of the party’s executive committee (the technical title held by Bichotte) and the vice president must also be of different genders, but the committee overturned this rule, allowing incumbent vice president Annette Robinson to remain. in office, the court documents note. .
The plaintiffs argue that the party should not only abandon these gender parity rules at its highest level, but also for members of the county committee – its widest base of elected members at 1,881 women and 1,550 men in all the borough.
“The fact that the KCDCC is voting to overturn a gender parity rule as it applies to the highest leadership positions while maintaining an equally unfair rule for the lowest, highest level of public engagement broad and most democratic reflects arbitrary and capricious standards of rule-making that have a negative and disproportionate impact. non-binary, intersex, and transgender members of the county committee on the ground floor of the organization,” the lawsuit states.
A party spokesperson also declined to comment on the lawsuit beyond that the party was looking into the matter.
“We don’t comment on the lawsuits, but we are aware of them and it raises an important question,” Bob Liff of George Arzt Communications said in an email. “The same issue has been raised in the Democratic state committee studying it and we are monitoring that.”