Malcolm L. Lazin
Malcolm L. Lazin (born December 5, 1943) is an American social activist, prosecutor, entrepreneur and educator. His endeavors include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights, federal and state law enforcement, developing Philadelphia's waterfront, lighting the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and incorporating Washington Square—the largest revolutionary war burial ground—into Independence National Historical Park.
Lazin is the founder of Equality Forum (a national and international LGBT civil rights organization headquartered in Philadelphia) and LGBT History Month. As Vince Bellino explains, "Equality Forum has, for the last decade, organized LGBT History Month, which honors 31 icons of the movement each year." Lazin is also the executive producer of three award-winning documentary films and an Off-Broadway play.
Lazin has received the U.S. Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award (the Department of Justice's highest honor); the Creative Leadership in Human Rights Award from the National Education Association; the Lifetime Hero Award of the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund; and is a Prime Mover of the Hunt Alternatives Fund. He serves as an adjunct professor at the New College of Florida and an Emeritus Trustee of Lebanon Valley College. He has presented lectures on LGBT civil rights at high schools, colleges, and national meetings in the United States and Canada.
Lazin resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Sarasota, Florida, where he serves as Board President of the Gulf & Bay Club Condominium. The club includes 392 condominiums and facilities on 37 beachfront acres. He was profiled in the June 2019 issue of Sarasota Magazine
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Philadelphia Leadership
- 4 Equality Forum and LGBT Civil Rights
- 5 Awards and recognition
- 6 References
Early life and education
Lazin attended Lebanon High School. In his junior year, he won the Lebanon County Optimist Oratorical Contest. In his senior year, against the advice of his teacher, he selected the topic "The Plight of the American Negro" for the school's contest, which began his lifetime of activism. He was also publicity officer for the Lebanon AZA, a Jewish youth organization, and became president of the AZA's Southeast Pennsylvania and Delaware region.
In 1961, Lazin enrolled in Lebanon Valley College, his father's alma mater. He was president of his college class (freshman, junior, and senior years) and became president of the faculty student council in his senior year. In 1963, he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the civil rights demonstration at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In 1964, Lazin stood among the crowd in the nation's capital to witness President John F. Kennedy's funeral cortege.
After fulfilling active training in the U.S. Army reserves, Lazin began his career in 1969 at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the Philadelphia regional office. He went on to become an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 1970-1974.
In the early 1970s, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran front-page stories on alleged abuses in the Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) low-income mortgage insurance programs. U.S. Attorney Louis Bechtle asked Lazin to examine the allegations. Lazin enlisted the help of neighborhood activists who accompanied FBI agents on interviews. After a preliminary investigation suggested a pattern of abuse, Lazin involved the IRS as well as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General. The probe resulted in the convictions of 18 real estate brokers; the largest FHA mortgage company in Pennsylvania; and the Director, the Deputy Director and the Chief of the Property Management Section of the Philadelphia FHA Insuring Office. At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, he taught his white-collar-crime investigative techniques to nine U.S. Attorney's offices.
Lazin also led a successful investigation into fraudulent relocation payments made by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. He brought the first successful civil litigation in the nation under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the first criminal environmental prosecutions in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In 1972 in the Great Hall of Justice, Lazin received the U.S. Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award, the department's highest honor.
Private Practice and Philadelphia Politics
In 1973, Lazin left the U.S. Attorney's Office to enter private practice as a litigation associate. Two years later, he accepted a partnership at Fell Spaulding Goff & Rubin, a Philadelphia law firm.
In early 1977, the Philadelphia Republican City Committee approached Lazin to run for district attorney against incumbent Emmett Fitzpatrick. In May, Fitzpatrick faced an upset in the Democratic primary by Edward G. Rendell, Philadelphia's former Homicide Division Chief. In the general election, Lazin received the Philadelphia Inquirer's endorsement. Democrats outnumbered Republicans by roughly 4 to 1; Lazin lost the race by 88,00 votes.
State Politics and the PA Crime Commission
In 1978, Pennsylvania governor Dick Thornburgh named Lazin a leader of his gubernatorial campaign. Lazin "played a key role in the campaign." In prior gubernatorial elections, Republicans lost the city by approximately 300,000 votes. Thornburgh lost Philadelphia by only about 70,000 and garnered enough votes statewide to win the election.
Under the Thornburgh administration, Lazin served as the volunteer Pennsylvania co-chair for the International Year of the Child. With the first lady of state, Ginny Thornburgh, Lazin successfully lobbied to make Pennsylvania the first state to mandate child automobile safety seats.
In 1979, Governor Thornburgh appointed Lazin to the five-member Pennsylvania Crime Commission—the principal state agency investigating organized crime with a staff of 60. On April 20, 1982, Lazin was named chairman of the commission. He helped champion the Mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Network (MAGLOCN)—the first computerized organized crime law-enforcement database, which resulted from the work of the Commission, and which aggregated and shared information inter- and intrastate. During his tenure as chair, the New York and Philadelphia organized crime families were warring over Atlantic City, where gambling had been recently approved. Mob murders were rampant. Lazin became a media point person, commenting regularly on regional and national news programs. Lazin resigned from the commission April 27, 1983.
Lazin also ran for City Council in 2011, losing by 250 votes.
American Bicentennial Rodeo
In 1974, Lazin conceived the idea to hold a rodeo as part of Philadelphia's U.S. Bicentennial Celebration. A neophyte to both rodeos and public event organizing, he visited major rodeos across the country and acquainted himself with Howard Harris III, one of the most highly regarded stock contractors. Through Harris, Lazin secured endorsement from the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association to hold a sanctioned American Bicentennial Rodeo in Philadelphia. The rodeo took place at JFK Stadium in late June through early July 1976. It included six competitions over five days with Congressman Clem McSpadden, the voice of American rodeos, announcing. Five of the six 1975 world champions and top competitors in the women's barrel racing participated. Each rodeo also featured Buffalo Bill Cody's grandson riding an Appaloosa horse, an antique stagecoach that traveled between Cheyenne and Deadwood City, Wyoming, a performance by the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, and a race between the Philadelphia mounted police unit and the Cheyenne Sheriff's Posse.
Philadelphia Waterfront Development
At a time when Baltimore's Inner Harbor was a thriving tourist destination, Philadelphia's waterfront remained largely undeveloped.
In 1983, Lazin became president of Penn's Landing Development Corporation. Under his leadership, the corporation won the rights from Philadelphia to develop five piers in the central waterfront district. It rehabilitated a 180,000-square-foot pier for entertainment use, built a 90,000-square-foot parking deck where charred pilings once stood and constructed a 15,000-square-foot outdoor entertainment deck. The corporation also rehabilitated another 70,000-square-foot pier for servicing boats and developed Philadelphia's first full-service marina with 300 slips.
Other companies initiated projects in the area; however, the district lacked sufficient infrastructure to accommodate and enhance the development. Lazin founded and was elected chair of the Philadelphia Waterfront Developers Council (1986-1989), which created a plan to redesign and rebuild the then dilapidated Delaware Avenue into a waterfront boulevard and successfully lobbied for access ramps to and from Interstate 95.
Benjamin Franklin Bridge Lighting
In 1985 when few buildings in Philadelphia were lit at night, Lazin conceived the notion to light the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. He presented the idea to the mayors of Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, and helped organize a bi-state development committee to undertake the project. The goal was to light the bridge named for a founding father, which connects two of the colonies, in time for the bicentennial of the Constitution. Lazin and City Representative Diane Semingson successfully co-chaired the project's finance and public relations sub-committee, The Benjamin Franklin Bridge was lit on September 17, 1987, for the bicentennial celebration. The lit bridge has become an iconic Philadelphia landmark.
In 1989, with support from U.S. Senators John Heinz III and Arlen Specter, Lazin organized and chaired the Washington Square Committee. Its purpose was to secure inclusion of Washington Square into Independence National Historical Park (INHP) and to have an honorary military guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. Situated across from Independence Hall, the area is the largest Revolutionary War burial ground.
Lazin successfully led a nearly two-decades-long campaign for the historical site. In 1992, Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujon signed a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the Department of the Interior committed to incorporate Washington Square into INHP, if the site could be brought up to National Park Service standards.
After a 13-year undertaking to fund improvements and meet requirements, Washington Square was made part of Independence National Historical Park, which thereafter has overseen management and guided tours. In 2005, Lazin chaired the transfer ceremony from the City of Philadelphia to Independence National Historical Park. U.S. Senator Specter and representatives from Philadelphia, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of the Interior participated in the event.
Lazin continues to chair the Washington Square Committee (as of 2002), with the goal of having an honorary military guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier.
Other Public Service
Lazin served for approximately 10 years as the Chair of the Local Legislative Committee of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. He has also served as President of the Society Hill Civic Association, Vice President of the Society Hill Synagogue, Vice President of the Golden Slipper Club, and on the board of directors of various nonprofit organizations.
Equality Forum and LGBT Civil Rights
Lazin is the founder and executive director of Equality Forum, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that coordinates LGBT History Month, produces documentary films, undertakes high-impact initiatives and annually presents an international LGBT civil rights summit.
History and Annual Summit
In 1993, Lazin founded PrideFest Philadelphia and served as its board co-chair. In the early 1990s, gay pride parades abounded. PrideFest focused instead on gay and lesbian organizations and on civil rights issues and aspirations.
The first PrideFest involved 15 regional organizations presenting panel discussions over a weekend. By 1996, what was now PrideFest America had become a week-long event, including 60 regional, state and national organizations. In 1999, PrideFest named Lazin its first executive director. In 2003, the organization changed its name to Equality Forum, and its annual event included international organizations.
At its peak, the annual Equality Forum was the largest national and international LGBT summit, featuring panel discussions, art exhibits, parties, programs and special events. Beginning in 2004, it included a Featured Nation.
The annual Equality Forum employed groundbreaking strategy: It framed gay issues as civil rights, it championed bisexual and transgender inclusion, it created the longest-standing role model award, it presented the first annual LGBT art exhibit, it embraced religious programming, and it encompassed international LGBT civil rights by annually exploring the conditions of a featured country or region, including Germany, Russia, Canada, China, Israel, and the Muslim world.
LGBT History Month
In 2006, at Lazin's initiative, Equality Forum assumed responsibility for LGBT History Month. Celebrated in October, LGBT History Month honors 31 Icons, one each day, with a video, bio, bibliography and other online resources. The website archives the Icons, which are searchable from a tag cloud of approximately 150 descriptors.
Co-Executive Producer, Gay Pioneers
Gay Pioneers was conceived by Lazin, who wanted to document the start of the organized LGBT civil rights movement. The movement began with protests in New York and Washington D.C. which led to milestone demonstrations in Philadelphia known as Annual Reminders, held each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969 in front of Independence Hall. Lazin approached Philadelphia PBS affiliate WHYY, which agreed to co-produce the film. Directed by award-winning documentarian Glenn Holsten, Gay Pioneers includes on-camera interviews with the movement's seminal leaders and participants, most notably Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings. It premiered on PBS and has been screened widely at film festivals; by high school and college GSAs; at the CIA in Langley, Virginia; and at annual meetings of national organizations, including the American Historical Association.
Jim in Bold
Executive Producer, Jim in Bold Jim in Bold was the first feature-length documentary produced about the impact of bullying on LGBTQ youth. It has been screened at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association, and in other venues on four continents. For his work on the film, Lazin received the National Education Association's Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, the NEA's highest annual civil rights honor.
Saint of 9-11
Executive Producer, Saint of 9-11
Saint of 9/11 is a feature-length documentary about Father Mychal Judge, Chaplain of the New York City Fire Department and the first official victim of 9/11. Narrated by Ian McKellen, the film premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and was an official selection of the Montreal World Film Festival. It received a favorable review by The New York Times.
I Am Michael
Co-Executive Producer, I Am Michael
I Am Michael, written and directed by Justin Kelly, is a 2015 drama based on The New York Times Magazine article, "My Ex-Gay Friend," by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, and the film JIM IN BOLD. The movie stars James Franco, Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts and Charlie Carver.
Lazin is Executive Producer of 217 Boxes of Dr. Henry Anonymous, an Off-Broadway play.
As the executive director of Equality Forum, Lazin led numerous initiatives.
The FORTUNE 500 project lobbied the nation's largest companies to provide anti-discrimination protection for sexual orientation. The project launched in 2004 when just under 64% of the FORTUNE 500 offered their employees this assurance; today the number is nearly 94%.
Project 1138 increased public awareness of the 1,138 federal marital benefits and protections denied to same-sex couples as the result of marriage inequality.
Lazin chaired the National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration, July 2–5, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Awards and recognition
1972: Distinguished Service Award, Office of the U.S. Attorney General, Department of Justice
1972: Honorary Special Agent Award, IRS Intelligence Division
2005: Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights, National Education Association
2006: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Lebanon Valley College
2007: Prime Mover, Hunt Alternatives Fund
2016: Lifetime Hero Award, Delaware Valley Legacy Fund
- Holmes, Kristin E. "Equality Forum Still at Work after 20 years." Philadelphia Inquirer, 6 May 2012, p. B01.
- Bellino, Vince. "Malcolm Lazin talks about this year's Equality Forum." Philadelphia Weekly, 26 July 26, 2016.
- "Trump properties: 264 potential soft targets for terror attacks". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- "Michael Flynn case is worthy of an independent inquiry". Chicago Tribune. 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- Lazin, Malcolm (2017-02-06). "Commentary: Don't exempt religious groups from nondiscrimination rules". Philly.com. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- Cooper, Mariah (2017-02-08). "Opinion | On the road to full equality". Washingtonblade.com. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- "Equality Forum Director Makes Bid for Council", Philadelphia Gay News, p, 6, April 1–7, 2011.
- McDonald, Natalie Hope. "Two Out Candidates Run for City Council." Philadelphia Magazine, November 30, 2016.
- [dead link]
- "Cohorts » 2007 Fellows". Prime Movers. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- Dribben, Melissa. "Slings and Arrows." Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, 28 April 2002, p. M14.
- "Malcolm Lazin of LHS is Optimist Oration Winner." Lebanon Daily News, March 26, 1959, p. 40
- Dribben, Melissa. "Slings and Arrows." Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, 28 April 2002, p. M13.
- "AZA Elects Officers." Lebanon Daily News, June 5, 1958, p. 15.
- "Five to Retire From Lebanon Valley College Board of Trustees; New Student Trustee Named". Readme.readmedia.com. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- "Re-Elect Malcolm Lazin President of 1965 Class." Lebanon Daily News, p. 27, May 13, 1964.
- Lebanon Daily News, 09 November 1973, p. 12.
- [dead link]
- "Lebanon Valley to Graduate 41 Area Students." Lebanon Daily News Graduation Supplement, 17 May 1965, p. 42.
- "Malcolm Lazin Receives Degree from Law School." Lebanon Daily News, 22 May 1968, p. 24
- Dribben, Melissa. "Slings and Arrows." The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, 28 April 2002, p. M14
- "Malcolm Lazin Takes Bride." Lebanon Daily News, 31 July 1973, p. 16.
- Dribben, Melissa. "Slings and Arrows." Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine, 28 April 2002, p. M16.
- "Pvt. Lazin Returns to Fort Leonard Wood." Lebanon Daily News, 25 September 1968, p. 32.
- "Malcolm Lazin, Attorney, Sworn Into New Post." Lebanon Daily News, 7 April 1970, p. 12.
- [dead link]
- Smith, Pat. "City GOP Taps Malcolm Who?" Philadelphia Daily News, 8 March 1977, p. 4.
- "Malcolm Lazin, Attorney, Sworn Into New Post." Lebanon Daily News, 7 August 1970, p. 12.
- Haskin, Don and Jim Smith. "18 Indicted in Probe Here." Philadelphia Daily News, 18 October 1972, p. 3.
- Curtis-Olsen, Zane. "The FHA Scandal in Philadelphia and the Lessons of Federal Intervention in the Inner-City Housing Market (1967-72)." Poverty & Race, 25.2 (2016):5-18.
- "FHA Probe Pioneered Here Expands to 10 other Cities." Philadelphia Daily News, 21 September 1972, p. 42.
- "Lebanon Daily News from Lebanon, Pennsylvania on December 15, 1972 · Page 40". Newspapers.com. 1972-12-15. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- "Lazin Receives Natl. Recognition." Lebanon Daily News, 15 December 1972, p. 40.
- Lazin, Malcolm. "When Politics Pollutes Equal Justice." Philadelphia Inquirer, 29 March 2007, p. A15.
- "Lazin is Credited For Work." Lebanon Daily News, 14 March 1974, p. 14.
- "M. Lazin Candidate in Philadelphia." Lebanon Daily News, 8 March 1977, p. 6.
- "Lazin Endorsed by Phila. Paper." Lebanon Daily News, 26 October 1977, p. 47.
- "For District Attorney: Malcolm L. Lazin." The Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 October 1977, p. 6H.
- Porter, Jill. "City Vote Knocks GOP Out of Political Ballpark." Philadelphia Daily News, 9 November 1977, p. 29.
- Huber, Robert and Benjamin Wallace. The Philadelphia Reader. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006, p. 130.
- Taylor, Kimberly. "On the Crusade for 'Lost' Children." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 5 July 1979, p. 13.
- "Lawyer is Tapped for Crime Panel." Pittsburgh Press, 18 May 1979, p. A10
- "Lazin is New Chairmen of State Crime Commission," Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 April 1982, p. 18.
- "Panel Chief." Philadelphia Daily News, 21 April 1982, p. 11.
- Morrison, John F. "Retiring Crime Panel Chief Hails Cooperative Effort." Philadelphia Daily News, 28 April 1983, p. 7.
- Hobbs, Michael A. "Mob Stronger Despite Killings, Lazin Says." Philadelphia Inquirer, 24 February 1983, p. 81.
- "NCJRS Abstract - National Criminal Justice Reference Service". Ncjrs.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- Morrison, John F. "Retiring Crime Panel Chief Hails Cooperative Effort." Philadelphia Daily News, 28 April 1983, p. 7.
- "The Gayest Feud Ever: Mark Segal vs. Malcolm Lazin." Philadelphia Magazine, 1 October 2011.
- The American Bicentennial Rodeo. 23 June 1976. Accessed 2 December 2016.
- "Industry Documents Library". Industrydocuments.library.ucsf.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
- "At-Large GOP Choices." Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 April 2011, p. A18.
- Warner, Susan. "Developer's Group Picks New Leader." The Philadelphia Inquirer, 19 June 1989, p. 7-C.
- Ott, Dwight. "Company Sues to Get Ben Franklin Bridge Lighting Repossessed". Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 January 1989, p. 1 and 2B.
- Cohn, Roger. "Installation of Bridge Lights Set." Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 June 1987, p. B1.
- Muldoon, Karen Kofoed. "Port Panel Reviews Bridge Light Plan." Courier-Post, 7 April 1987, p. 15.
- Cohn, Roger. "Selling the Bridge-Lighting Project for $1,000, Backers Can 'Buy a Bulb' for the Ben Franklin." Philadelphia Inquirer, 15 July 1987, p. B06.
- Dougherty, Frank. "A Bright Idea Comes Across for '87." Philadelphia Daily News, 4 September 1986, p. 8.
- Klibanoff, Hank. "Vice President's Visit Sparks Hope for Park." Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 May 1989 p. 24.
- Harris, Linda K. "Washington Square's Face-Lift is Almost Done—The National Park Service Will Soon Oversee the Resting Place of 2,000 American Soldiers." Philadelphia Inquirer, 27 October 2002, p. B1.
- Salisbury, Stephen. "Washington Square Gets New Leader." Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 November 2002, p. B5.
- DeWolf, Rose. "Pridefest: Partying with a Serious Side." Philadelphia Daily News, 5 May 1995, p. 49.
- Anderson, Bruce. "Pridefest to Explore Diversity." Courier-Post, 7 May 1993, p. 2D.
- Harris, Linda. "Philadelphia Finds New Travel Clique." Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 April 2003, p. B04.
- "Former Pridefest Plans Week of Events." Philadelphia Inquirer, 25 April 2003, p. W33.
- Bellino, Vince. "Malcolm Lazin talks about this year's Equality Forum." Philadelphia Weekly, 26 July 2016.
- "Gay Pioneers." Courier-Post, 19 November 2004, p. 118.
- Von Dobeneck, Monica. "Lebanon teen's suicide inspires film on gay life." The Patriot-News, 30 March 2003, p. B01.
- Schuler, Rory. "'Saint of 9/11'". Lebanon Daily News, 7 December 2005.
- Debruge, Peter. "Sundance Film Review: 'I am Michael'". Variety. 24 January 2015. Accessed 2 December 2016.
- "Record 94% of FORTUNE 500 Companies Provide Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protection". PR Newswire. 29 August 2007. Accessed 2 December 2016.
- Amorosi, A.D. "A Weekend of LGBT Celebration." The Philadelphia Inquirer Magazine. 2 July 2015, p, C1.
- McDonald, Natalie Hope. "Two Out Candidates Run for City Council." Philadelphia Magazine, 30 November 2016.