News Briefing: June 1-7, 2018


Three new transgender-rights bills to pass in New Jersey State

The New Jersey State Assembly gave final legislative approval last week for three transgender-rights bills. Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bills, which impact how gender identity appears on certain records.

The first bill establishes a transgender task force in New Jersey; the second requires death certificates to reflect a decedent’s gender identity; and the third, called the Babs Siperstein Law, makes it easier for transgender people to amend their gender identity on their birth certificates.

Siperstein was the first transgender person to become a delegate in the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Lawmakers honored her for her advocacy when the bill passed last week.

“This will help educate people,” said Siperstein in a statement about the eponymous bill.

Woodbury celebrates Pride second year in a row

New Jersey’s Woodbury Community Pride will be held for the second year in a row, this time to help fund a stipend for the faculty advisor of the new Gay-Straight Alliance at Woodbury High School.

Tony Doran, president of Woodbury Community Pride said the proceeds also will go towards hosting Woodbury’s first international LGBTQ film festival in the fall.

“We made great progress in our first year and we are on track to have an even more successful year in 2018,” Doran said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done and grateful for the overwhelming support. Most of all, I’m excited to be part of making Woodbury the most LGBTQ-friendly city in South Jersey.”

The Pride celebration will open with the inaugural Rainbow Gala June 2. For more information on how to purchase tickets to the upcoming events, visit

Mayor’s office opens Pride at City Hall

The Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs office is providing a rousing launch to Pride weekend in Philadelphia with a flag-raising ceremony and block party June 7.

The mayor, members of City Council and other guest speakers from the community are expected to open the ceremony, followed by a celebration with food trucks, a DJ and live entertainment until 8 p.m.

Evan Thornburg, deputy director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, said the celebration is a great opportunity to kick off Pride in the heart of the city.

“LGBTQ folks — those who are at the most vulnerable point politically with this current administration — are able to celebrate who they are with City Council people at the hub of where local government occurs. That sends such an amazing message not only that you are welcome here; you can celebrate here and you can celebrate yourself.”

Third annual Walt Fest returns to Laurel Springs

Walt Fest, Laurel Springs’ annual arts and poetry festival, is back for its third year of celebrating the life and work of American poet Walt Whitman June 9 from 11 a.m-3 p.m.

Whitman spent his summers in Laurel Springs from 1876-88. He wrote about historic Crystal Springs in his works “Leaves of Grass” and “Specimen Days.”  The festival will take place on the banks of Timber Creek.

“If you like history, poetry and art, then this is for you,” said Gene Letts, Laurel Springs city councilman.

Walt Fest features elements of Whitman’s history in Laurel Springs with live poetry readings of his works, guided trolley tours and food and crafts. The Whitman Stafford Farmhouse will feature an art exhibit and sale.

Broad Street Ministry celebrates pride with worship ceremony

The Broad Street Ministry is hosting a Pride worship celebration June 3 at 4p.m. to celebrate the launch of Pride month. 

“As a community, we value the assets of our LGBTQIA+ siblings in our faith family. Join us as we kick off Pride Month with a service especially focused on celebrating the gifts we receive by striving to be an inclusive and affirming community,” said Alan Rascoe, Pastoral Fellow at BSM.

BSM is a member of the Presbyterian Church. In 2012, the Church began allowing the ordination of openly LGBT people, and later amended its Book of Order to sanction same-sex marriage.

Dyke March celebrates 20 years of protest

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Philadelphia Dyke March, taking place 3-6 p.m. June 9. The march is for self-identified dykes and allies to gather, march and rally, said organizers. 

“We’re a protest — we’ve always been a protest, not a parade,” said Jenn Anderson, this year’s co-leader for Dyke March. “One voice that we feel in particular that is typically centered at Pride is the gay, white cisgendered male voice, and there are a lot of people who fall outside of that umbrella.”

The march is a kid-friendly event that welcome dykes of all races, sizes, ages, abilities, socio-economic statuses, gender presentations and identities and sexual orientations, said Anderson. n

— Compiled by Adriana Fraser