Clinton Easy Pick Among NY Gay Dems

By: DUNCAN OSBORNE | Surprising no one, four of the city's gay Democratic clubs have endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race to become that party's nominee for president.

“We have a candidate in this race that is someone we know well and we're proud to be endorsing her tonight,” said Terrance Knox, co-president of the Lambda Independent Democrats (LID), a Brooklyn group, in a January 14 statement.

Roughly 50 LID members heard from Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents Manhattan's West Side and portions of Brooklyn, and Fred P. Hochberg, dean of Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy, who represented Clinton, Kevin Jennings, who is on leave from his job heading the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and a volunteer for John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, and Maxim Thorne, who serves on the National LGBT Leadership Council for Illinois Senator Barack Obama's campaign.

For 90 minutes, the three speakers were quizzed on their candidates' positions on the Iraq war, their electability and experience as well as their views on gay issues. The vote for Clinton came on the first ballot and after just 30 minutes of debate among the LID members in executive session.

“LID is an important voice in Brooklyn and our members haven spoken strongly for Senator Clinton tonight,” said Dan Willson, LID's co-president, in the statement.

In the balloting, Edwards placed second and Obama placed third. The event also drew Brooklyn City Councilmen Bill de Blasio, who plans a 2009 run for borough president, and David Yassky, a city comptroller hopeful, and a handful of district leaders.

New Yorkers overwhelmingly supported Clinton in her 2000 US Senate race and reelected her by an even larger margin in 2006 making her the obvious favorite in New York's February 5 Democratic primary.

The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City endorsed Clinton in October after hearing from “representatives from all three of the major candidates” at a forum sponsored by the group and other political organizations, according to Matthew W. Carlin, Stonewall's president.

“We use an instant run-off system,” Carlin said. “She won a majority on the first ballot… A majority of the club supported her as their first choice.”

The Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens backed Clinton in November after hearing from campaign representatives. Openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, who represents Manhattan's Upper West Side, spoke for Clinton.

“I think that club members were most comfortable with Hillary's positions on issues that affect the gay community,” said Danny Dromm, a club officer.

“There were some concerns in regards to the others' positions.”

On January 16, the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats (GLID) gave their support to Clinton. While H. Torrence Allen, GLID's president, said the club had reached out to all the Democratic contenders, only Thomas K. Duane, the openly gay Manhattan state senator, appeared, to speak on Clinton's behalf. When Duane finished, club members were invited to speak for other candidates, but none stood up.