Government Obituaries South Orange

South Orange Flies Flags Half-Staff to Honor Barbra Siperstein, LGBTQ Activist

February 5, 2019. Flags at half-staff in South Orange Village to honor Barbra Siperstein. Photo by Bob Zuckerman.

Flags were lowered to half-staff in South Orange on Tuesday, Feb. 5 in honor of LGBTQ activist Barbra Siperstein, who died on Feb. 3 at the age of 76.  “[Saying] Babs was a true friend to the South Orange community and ‘trailblazer’ is an understatement,” wrote South Orange Village President Sheena Collum on Facebook. “She will be missed but her memory will always live on.”

Among her accomplishments, Siperstein in 2009 became the first openly transgender person to serve as a member of the Democratic National Committee. And just last Friday, the Babs Siperstein Law took effect, after “10 years of work and overcoming two vetoes by former Gov. Chris Christie, the law makes it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect the gender they live.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that the half-staff honor would be extended throughout all of New Jersey on Feb. 6: “In honor of Barbra “Babs” Casbar Siperstein, a ferocious champion for the LGBTQ+ community, @GovMurphy has ordered that all U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities tomorrow, February 6, 2019.”

In her Facebook post, Collum also included this remembrance of Siperstein written by South Orange Village Center Alliance Director Bob Zuckerman, a friend of Siperstein’s:

“Barbra (“Babs”) Siperstein, an army veteran, small business person and New Jersey native, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 3. Babs was known as one of New Jersey’s most prominent LGBTQ activists and was instrumental in securing protections for transgender people on both the state and federal level. She was a civil rights trailblazer who was relentless in her pursuit of seeking equal rights, not just for the LGBTQ community, but for everyone who is marginalized in society. Her namesake legislation, the Babs Siperstein Law, which requires the state issue amended birth certificates to transgender people in New Jersey, took effect on Feb. 1 after many years of Bab’s advocacy and determination to see it passed and signed into law. She was also the force behind New Jersey’s inclusive non-discrimination law that included protections for transgender New Jerseyans as well as for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. She graced us with her presence at the South Orange transgender flag raising ceremony in 2018, and she will be sorely missed by many of us.”

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