The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, named for the legendary gay rights pioneer Jim Owles, was formed in 2004 as a citywide political activist club with a mission to secure human rights, dignity, and freedom for all people. We believe that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community can no longer support candidates who are not willing to recognize our basic rights and freedoms. We need to speak out strongly in favor of issues concerning us.
As a multi-issue, progressive Democratic club, we also call for an end of all wars, increased AIDS funding, universal health care, expect continued protection and expansion of reproductive rights. We also demand economic justice, abolition of the death penalty, to name just a few of our other vital concerns.
Jim Owles (1946-1993), Activist
Jim Owles was one of the pioneers of the gay rights movement in the 1960s and his influence and spirit can still be felt today. In 1969, Jim was the founding president of the Gay Activists Alliance of New York, the largest militant gay rights organization in the United States, and in 1973 was the nation's first openly gay person to run for public office.
As president of GAA, Owles advocated anti-discrimination bills in Albany and New York City. Known as a man of noticeable calm and civility, a quiet but keen thinker who, when he spoke, commanded almost immediate allegiance from hundreds of GAA members. Owles once said, “Gays must redirect anger that has been largely inward, outward—where it belongs. That doesn’t mean smashing windows. It means confronting people who do have the power and saying, ‘Look here, ours are not ridiculous or frivolous demands—they’re something every American should have!”
In 1974, Jim Owles founded the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, which was the first gay political club in the city. In 1985, he was one of the seven founding members of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which monitors the coverage and depiction of lesbians and gay men in the media. Mr. Owles was a special assistant and liaison to the lesbian and gay community for the State Senate minority leader, Manfred Ohrenstein.
Jim Owles sought "to secure basic human rights, dignity, and freedom for all gay people.” This has become the guiding principle of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club today.
Jim passed to AIDS in 1993 after years of dedicating his life to the causes of the gay community.