Marriage has traditionally been an institution designed to enable white, heterosexual, middle-class males. But as we continue to move forward, we see the voices and love of other ethnic groups, lifestyles and genders more empowered by matrimony. Read more
My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those affected by the terrible tragedy in Orlando this weekend.
Orlando is not so far from home. Terrorism is not a nebulous threat. Terrorism by definition is a hate crime – a political statement, and whether homegrown or jihadist, it was a crime that was simultaneously unimaginable, and yet, far too common. Long Island was devastated in 2008 when Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death when targeted by a gang that violently pursued Hispanics for sport. And our community was shocked when Ku Klux Klan fliers were found outside Rockville Centre, amidst reports that Hamptons Bay had become headquarters for the KKK with an estimated 50 to 70 members.
Hate crimes, as we experienced in Orlando this weekend, can be gruesome and violent beyond comprehension, but they can also be micro aggressions that haunt minority communities. A passing slur on the street, an insensitive joke that renders someone powerless and ashamed.
When I started my law firm 18 years ago on Long Island, I experienced racial bias on a daily basis. Doubt was cast on my ability and thrust upon my clients as a result. Donald Trump’s own admission that he doubts the ability of an Indiana judge of Mexican heritage to oversee his case due to his ethnicity is enough proof that those beliefs have not dissipated in the past two decades.
Hatred is built upon ignorance. As a volunteer and participant with Long Island’s LGBT Network, I have seen the bullying and disrespect cast towards LGBT youth. Doubt is often thrust upon them when teachers and classmates accuse them of being ‘confused,’ or ‘experimenting.’ Those words are hurtful and lead many in the LGBT community to seek refuge in safe spaces, like an LGBT nightclub, like Pulse in Orlando.
As a family lawyer, I have only seen the real life effects of gun violence when dealing with domestic disputes. However, this experience has allowed me to see the damage a gun can do to a family, but also the healing power that love can bring to that same home. I encourage all to set aside differences of religion, politics and lifestyle to search for the common ground of love. Only through cooperation and empathy, will we be able to find a solution to terrorism, gun violence and LGBTQ rights.
There are many ways to make the world a better place, many solutions that we may disagree upon, but it is important to remember that there is not one way to eradicate terrorism or hate crimes. This week, take an action step. Give blood (RedCrossBlood.org), write a note to your lawmakers (Congress.org) or say a prayer. Do something to make the world a better place, and most importantly – be kind to all you encounter.
On Wednesday, May 4, 2016, the LGBT Network honored former Nassau County legislator and family law attorney, David Mejias at the LGBT Network “Studio 54” Gala for his continuous support of the LGBT Network and his strong commitment to the LGBT community on Long Island and Queens.
The LGBT Network is honoring David Mejias of the law firm Mejias Milgrim & Alvarado at the 2016 LGBT Network “Studio 54” Gala on Wednesday, May 4th for both his life-long commitment to LGBT equality and his tireless support of the LGBT Network. As a family law attorney and Nassau County Legislator, David has led efforts to keep the children in our community safe. In honor of his efforts, the proceeds from the 2016 LGBT Network Gala will directly support the Network’s “Safe Schools Initiative,” which seeks to create safer schools for LGBT youth across Long Island and Queens through anti-bullying and youth empowerment programs. This year’s “Studio 54” Gala will feature disco tunes, dancing, and lounge seating with a cocktail party format. The program will be just 20 minutes, so guests can mix, mingle, and hit the dance floor. Join the LGBT Network in honoring David Mejias as we “boogie down against bullying.”
On April 21, 2016, Long Island Business News hosted the Diversity in Business Awards to honor business leaders of diverse ethnicities, who have exemplified a leadership and commitment to increasing diversity in the business community on Long Island. Amongst the honorees was David Mejias, a family law attorney from Mejias, Milgrim & Alvarado, which is the only law firm on Long Island where every member of the firm is a minority.
When David Mejias put out his shingle to practice law he found himself very much alone as he discovered much to his dismay that he was one of the very few lawyers on Long island who could speak conversational English to his Spanish speaking clients.
Twenty years later the law firm of Mejias, Milgrim & Alvarado now employs a half dozen attorneys and five members of support staff all of whom happen to be women or minorities or both. For Mejias it is partly by design and partly his belief that minorities who have struggled to enter white collar professions are focused laser like on success.
“Our law firm’s staff represents 21st Century America and yet we share something that I believe has been a constant in our nation’s history. Every immigrant wave has been hungry to succeed, to demonstrate a work ethic that insists we are still a country of opportunity regardless of the prejudice or discrimination that seeks to hold that new group back,” observed Mejias.
While staff includes those of Indian, Latino and African American descent, Mejias says competence, professionalism and pride in winning cases remains the criteria for hiring. “Quotas don’t work here. But nor is there a sense of entitlement. We have been fortunate to find, recruit and retain smart people who happen to represent a spectrum of diversity. It also allows us to communicate with clients who share those ethnicities so there is nothing loss in language, culture or thought when you enter the courtroom.”
To the best of his knowledge Mejias says his is the only law firm on Long Island where every member of the law firm is a minority, especially if you define “minority” as being an overachiever.