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Queens PFLAG to honor three in February

The Queens chapter of PFLAG — or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — will recognize a group and two individuals who have worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at its 2009 awards ceremony in February.

The chapter, based in Forest Hills, announced its awardees last week. Anne Quashen, president of PFLAG’s Queens chapter, said Marriage Equality New York will be awarded the Morty Manford Award; Laura Cadorette of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens will receive the Carmel Tavadia Memorial Award; and Wendy Curry, president of BiNet USA, will be the recipient of the Brenda Howard Memorial Award.

The awards will be given during the Queens chapter’s annual awards luncheon in February at Abbracciamento’s restaurant in Rego Park.

Manford, a Flushing resident, was a Columbia University student in the late 1960s who became an organizer of campus gay groups and a leader of the modern gay rights movement. He was an assistant attorney general in New York and died at the age of 41 due to complications from AIDS in 1992.

“The Morty Manford award goes to people who best exemplify his pioneering political spirit,” Quashen said. “We feel Marriage Equality New York has done so much work to bring the issue of gay marriage to the public.”

In a mission statement posted on the Manhattan−based Marriage Equality New York’s Web site, the group said it is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of allowing all people to marry.

“Without marriage, committed same−sex couples are denied over 1,138 federal rights and obligations, including Social Security, hospital visitation, co−parenting rights, [the] estate tax and immigration, just to name a few,” the group’s Web site states.

Carmel Tavadia, also formerly of Flushing, was the mother of a gay son who told her about his sexual orientation when he was 17. She died in 1996.

“When her son came out to her, she was totally uninformed about the gay community other than what the Catholic church had told her,” Quashen said. “She loved her son and wanted to support him, so she became informed and became the president of the Queens chapter of PFLAG.”

Tavadia award recipient Cadorette, who lives in Jackson Heights with her partner of 17 years, Jessica Davis, has volunteered for the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and sat on the board for the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens since 2000.

“We want to make sure no candidates are elected in Queens that are anti−gay,” said Cadorette, who is also the director of constituent services for state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D−Jackson Heights). “We want them to understand our issues and fight for civic rights. We want them to understand we’re part of the community.”

Curry, a New Hampshire resident and president of the national nonprofit BiNet USA, which provides resources for bisexuals, said she was honored to receive the Brenda Howard award.

Howard, a former Bronx resident, was a major figure in the LGBT rights movement and is credited with founding what is now known as the New York City Pride March.

“I was ecstatic when I heard I was going to get it,” Curry said. “Brenda is such a huge part of bi−history, and to have anything with her name on it is very exciting.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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