Morty Manford
The New York Times

May 15, 1992, Friday, Late Edition - Final

Morty Manford, 41, a Lawyer And Early Gay-Rights Advocate


SECTION: Section D; Page 20; Column 5; Metropolitan Desk

LENGTH: 382 words

Morty Manford, an assistant New York State attorney general and an early gay-rights advocate, died yesterday at his home in Flushing, Queens.

He was 41 years old and died of complications from AIDS, his family said.

Mr. Manford was a leader in the modern gay-rights movement. While a student in 1968, he helped found Gay People at Columbia University, one of the nation's first gay campus groups.

In 1969 he was at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar, when a melee broke out between gay customers and raiding police officers. The incident spurred protests and a new militancy. That year Mr. Manford helped found the Gay Activists Alliance and became its president. His mother founded the forerunner of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a national organization.
Melee at Inner Circle

But Mr. Manford was best known for his role in the 1972 indictment and trial of Michael Maye, then president of the city's Uniformed Firefighters Association. Mr. Maye was accused of beating Mr. Manford at a gay-rights protest.

The incident occurred at the 50th annual Inner Circle dinner and lampoon show, sponsored by present and former reporters and attended by public officials and business executives.

Mr. Manford and a few cohorts invaded the affair, in a Hilton Hotel ballroom, to distribute leaflets and briefly seize the stage. They protested that the news media and government were ignoring gay issues.

They were ejected. Some people followed them into the hallway, and a fight ensued. Several city officials who witnessed the incident testified at the trial that Mr. Maye threw Mr. Manford down an escalator, then kicked and stomped him.

Mr. Maye denied the charges, saying he had been attacked. In the end, the judge acquitted Mr. Maye. But the case drew attention to the protest, to violence against homosexuals and to attempts to adopt a city gay-rights law, which Mr. Maye adamantly opposed. The law finally passed in 1986.

Mr. Manford was born in Queens. He graduated from Columbia in 1975 and from Cardozo Law School in 1981. For the next four years he was a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and since 1986 he worked for the Attorney General.

Surviving are his mother, Jeanne, of Astoria, Queens, and a sister, Suzanne Swan of San Francisco.

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