Struggling to stem a wave of criticism from LGBTQ community leaders, Mayor Eric Adams phoned former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and others to directly inform them of his plans to name two additional anti-LGBTQ figures to his administration.
The mayor, in only his second month in office, was already under fire for the appointment of Pastor Gilford Monrose — who has a well-documented homophobic history — to head up his faith-based office and the expectation that he would also appoint former Bronx Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, who has an inflammatory record of anti-LGBTQ activism, to an administration post.
In his February 18 call to Quinn, Adams confirmed that Cabrera would also join the faith-based office and that Reverend Erick Salgado, who ran for mayor in 2013 on a platform harshly criticizing marriage equality and abortion rights, would serve in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Quinn, who was the Council’s first out LGBTQ leader — between 2006 and 2013 — said she pushed back against the mayor’s effort to characterize Cabrera and Salgado as having modified their views on the LGBTQ community.
“I told him I do not think these men have evolved, and if they have evolved or want to evolve they should put out a statement,” Quinn, in comments to Gay City News, said she told the mayor. “But I don’t think they have evolved.”
The former speaker continued, “The mayor is appointing two homophobes to positions in his administration. This is an enormous disappointment.”
Then, alluding to Adams’ past support for the LGBTQ community — including his 2009 and 2011 votes in favor of marriage equality in the State Senate — Quinn added, “I think we all had hopes that the mayor would be a true and significant friend. These do not feel like the actions of a friend.”
In a statement released by City Hall, Salgado was quoted saying, “I am proud to serve in this administration under the leadership of Mayor Adams, and share his long-held values of tolerance and inclusion. My views have evolved as society has evolved. As MOIA Assistant Commissioner, my mission will be to lift up immigrant communities across our city, including LGBTQ+ immigrants, who often face barriers to accessing needed services.”
Quinn said that the mayor told her he was making calls to a number of other leaders in the LGBTQ community.
According to the Daily News, which first reported on the Salgado appointment, State Senator Brad Hoylman, in a meeting between Adams and legislators in Albany earlier this week, challenged the mayor on any prospective appointment of Cabrera. The mayor’s response, according to the News, was essentially, “We can agree to disagree.”
Hoylman would not discuss what transpired in that private meeting, and, asked today if he received a call from Adams, said, “I do not discuss my private conversations with the mayor.”
However, Hoylman, an out gay Manhattan Democrat, reiterated a perspective he had earlier offered Gay City News, saying, “I continue to be concerned that the mayor is sending a negative and dangerous message to LGBTQ young people with his actions, and I would ask him to reconsider because they are hurtful and destructive to New York’s place in the world as a tolerant and heterogeneous city. If the mayor wants to regain the confidence of the city, the nation, and the entire world, appointing homophobic individuals to positions of power is not the way to do it. This is easily corrected.”
One out LGBTQ elected official, who spoke on background, confirmed Quinn’s account of Adams arguing that his appointees had modified their anti-LGBTQ records — going so far as to compare former President Barack Obama’s changing views on marriage equality to Cabrera’s history, which included a notorious trip to Uganda to stand with homophobic religious leaders pushing a draconian law that initially called for the death penalty for homosexual conduct. That elected official added that the mayor suggested there was a racial component to the criticism he has faced over his appointments, a perspective that official found “disturbing.”
Among those elected officials critical of Adams earlier this week were African-American Councilmembers Chi Ossé and Kristin Richardson Jordan, who respectively represent central Brooklyn and Harlem.
Cabrera, the best known of Adams’ three appointees, traveled to Uganda in January 2014, where he recorded a YouTube video lavishing praise on far right religious activists there who had introduced “Kill the Gays” legislation that they later, after a global outcry, watered down to provide instead for severe criminal penalties for homosexuality.
Cabrera, who is also active in the anti-abortion movement, is the senior pastor at the New Life Outreach International Church, which has consistently stood against marriage equality.
Salgado, in his 2013 mayoral run, cited homosexuality as a “mortal sin,” and in a candidate forum charged that the LGBTQ community advocates a ban on circumcision practices followed by some in the Orthodox Jewish community. According to the Daily News, he also condemned a Sheepshead Bay Holocaust memorial for honoring victims including gay men and political prisoners as well as the six million Jews who were murdered.
Monrose has criticized the LGBTQ community for its demand for “uncompromising acceptance,” and condemned not only marriage equality but also LGBTQ parents.