Vice Chair Crowley Announces Legislation to Rename Jackson Heights Post Office After Late LGBT Rights Advocates Jeanne and Jules Manford

May 29, 2015
Press Release

On the Eve of LGBT Pride Month, Crowley, Dromm, Advocates Push to Honor Queens Pride Parade’s Original Grand Marshal with Post Office Renaming

(Queens, N.Y.)  – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was joined by openly gay NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm, NYS Senator Jose Peralta, NYS Assembly Members Francisco Moya and Michael DenDekker, and advocates, to announce legislation to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford - the late Queens residents and national heroes who fought for the advancement of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

Jeanne, who alongside her husband Jules formed Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) after their openly gay son Morty was beaten for protesting news coverage of the gay rights movement in 1972, served as the original grand marshal of the Queens LGBT Pride Parade which Dromm founded in 1993.

“Through their unconditional love for their openly gay son, Jeanne and Jules Manford helped change the hearts and minds of so many people in Queens and throughout the City of New York,” said Rep. Crowley. “Together, they showed great courage and forged a path in the struggle for equality. Today, their incredible legacy is evident more than ever as their spirits live on through the countless families they touched and through our own LGBT pride parade which brings our family, friends and neighbors together to celebrate our diversity. Each year, as our communities march along 37th Avenue and pause at the post office to reflect on the sacrifices made, Jeanne and Jules’ names will remind us of how far we’ve come and how much we have left to accomplish in our pursuit of equality and justice.”

“My mother and father's love and acceptance of their son’s homosexuality became a guiding light for parents and friends struggling with the unhappy social mores of the time,” said daughter, Suzanne Manford Swan. “They were both born and lived their entire lives in Queens. They loved it there and loved all Queens had to offer. They would be so pleased to have this post office named after them.”

"Jeanne and Jules Manford were the 'parents' of the gay rights movement," said Council Member Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst).  "Jeanne and Jules nurtured the movement and allowed their home to be used as the cradle for gay liberation. They were the first parents of an openly gay child to support that child in public. It is appropriate that the Jackson Heights Post Office be named after the Manfords because Jeanne and Jules blazed new trails for the LGBT community by standing up for their openly gay son Morty Manford. Jeanne continued to fight for LGBT rights even after Jules passed away and was the first grand marshal of the Queens LGBT Pride Parade in 1993 here in Jackson Heights. My hope is that this naming will not only honor the Manford family but encourage all New Yorkers to stand up for equality. I am so proud to have been a close friend of the Manford family.  I applaud Congressman Joe Crowley for making this a reality.”

“I want to thank especially Representative Joe Crowley and Councilmember Danny Dromm for taking up this effort to rename this post office in Jackson Heights. The Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office will honor the lives of the pioneer couple and stand as a reminder of the contributions they made to the gay rights movement,” said Senator Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “While people were associating the gay rights movement with Christopher Street in Manhattan, here in Queens Jeanne and Jules were fighting for equal rights and unconditionally supported their gay activist son, Morty. Jeanne, in a sign of her wholehearted love for her son, wrote in 1972 a letter to the editor to the New York Post: ‘I have a homosexual son and I love him.’ These simple words brought momentum to a movement calling for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people -- a movement that has grown to be alive and well today. ”

“Jeanne and Jules Manford revolutionized the gay rights movement by paving the way for greater acceptance," said Assemblyman Moya (D-Jackson Heights). "They showed the world that the path to acceptance begins at home. I commend Congressman Joe Crowley for his foresight in choosing to recognize the trailblazing Manford family for their contributions to Queens and the gay rights movement nationwide.”

“I am very pleased that Congressman Crowley has introduced legislation to rename the Jackson Heights Post Office in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford,” said Assemblyman DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights). “As the founders of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Jeanne and Jules were pioneers for the LGBT community and inspired countless families across America. We in Queens are proud to count Jeanne as a native of our borough, and she and her husband, Jules, showed a commitment to human rights and acceptance that we should all aspire to. She is always in our hearts, and her legacy will live on for generations to come.”

The Manfords formed PFLAG to promote the rights, health, and well-being of LGBT persons, as well as their families and friends. Today, the organization has expanded to include more than 350 chapters and over 200,000 members in all 50 states. It has become a positive and influential voice calling for an end to discrimination and the attainment of equality.

“It is always an honor when PFLAG is recognized, and never more so than when it is through our founder and her husband, Jeanne and Jules Manford,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby. “It is especially wonderful that as people gather each year to march the Queens Pride route, they will do so at a site that will now bear the name of the first parents to march at Pride with their own son. It will serve as a reminder that every person has the power to change the world when they have the courage, like Jeanne and Jules did, to tell their story. We want to sincerely thank Rep. Crowley for this lovely--and fitting--tribute.”

“Every year for the past 23 years, thousands of people come to Jackson Heights for a celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride,” said Andrew Ronan, Co-Chair of Queens Pride, the organizer of the Queens Pride Parade. “Naming the Jackson Heights Post Office after Jeanne and Jules Manford will not only empower our marchers on the first Sunday in June, but it will serve as a 365 day a year reminder of the love, compassion and support that exists for the LGBTQ community in Queens that the Manfords embodied and fostered throughout the borough.”

In May 2014, on the eve of LGBT Pride Month, Crowley announced the introduction of a House resolution honoring the life and work of Jeanne Manford, who passed away on January 8, 2013, at the age of 92.

Crowley will march in the 2015 Queens Pride Parade on Sunday, June 7. Now in its 23rd year, the parade is a testament to the broad diversity of the Queens community.       

Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.