Stop and Think: The LGBTQ Connection to Racial Profiling

By Annette Macaluso, Intern with Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Many people believe the days of assimilation are here for the queer community.

How could they not think this with the constant news coverage of gay marriage becoming the norm, more and more openly LGBTQ public officials taking office (such as Christine Quinn and Annise Parker), and the LGBTQ community becoming a marketing constituency for some of the biggest brands in the United States (including Target, which used to fund the anti-gay organization Minnesota Forward)? However, here we are, in 2012 watching a broad coalition of groups march to end New York’s stop-and-frisk policy. For those unfamiliar with “stop and frisk,” it is a situation when a police officer detains a “suspicious” individual and runs his or her hands over the individual’s clothing to see if that person has a concealed weapon.  Stop and frisk is one of the biggest mediums for racial profiling, and profiling in general, because it allows for a police officer to detain and search an individual without any cause other than “suspicion.”

The LGBTQ community is not only fully supporting the communities of color and religious communities affected by the stop-and-frisk policy, but is a target of this policy as well.  More than 4 million people have been stoppedunder this policy of Stop and Frisk, and 99.9 percent of the time the people stopped are totally innocent.  Black and Latino males only count for 4.7 percent of New York City’s population. Yet, they make up 41.6 percent of the stops made in 2011. That 46 percent include gay men of color, and this is not even to mention the other half of those affected that include women of color, transgender people, queer people and other minorities. These people are stopped not because they are suspicious, but because they are openly queer. Being queer, trans, or being of color should not be a suspicion to anyone; especially to those who enforce the law.

The police should have no right to enforce racial profiling. However, under current stop-and-frisk policies in New York and many other places, police are allowed to violate the privacy and rights of an individual based on bigotry alone.  Stop-and-frisk policies were made legal by the Supreme Court in 1968and it cannot continue. Every group affected by this policy must come together and demand that legislation ban profiling by the NYPD and ban pressuring individuals into unlawful searches.

Although America may be used to an LGBTQ presence now, it is obvious that it is still threatening to those who are ignorant and biased. The LGBTQ community must stand with a coalition of groups that hold United States government enforcement agencies up to the standard of the Constitution. We will maintain our rights not only in marriage equality, but also in all facets of equality. That is why ending profiling is important to the LGBTQ community. We will do it for those who fought at Stonewall, we will do it for those who struggled in the Civil Rights and feminist movements, and we will do it because we respect ourselves.

LGBTQ Organizations in the Coalition to End Stop and frisk:

Gay City News
Gay Men's Health Crisis
GLID (Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats)
GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network)
GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent)

Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens (LGDCQ)
LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent

Queer Rising
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA)
Queers for Economic Justice

TLDEF (Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund)

Annette Macaluso is an intern at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and currently attends Smith College in Northampton, MA. She majors in Comparative Literature and Government. She hopes to enter law school in the next year and study constitutional or public interest law.

This guest blog does not necessarily reflect the views of Rights Working Group.

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