LGBT Leaders Unite For Ferrer

LGBT Leaders Unite For Ferrer

City Hall rally draws large crowd of elected officials, Democratic Party activists

An outpouring of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elected officials and political clubs rallied in support of Democratic mayoral nominee Fernando Ferrer on the steps of City Hall on October 6. The group included former partisans for several of the Democratic candidates in the September 13 primary.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Greenwich Village Democrat and the dean of openly lesbian and gay elected officials in New York, emceed the event, accusing Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg of breaking promises to the community.

“It’s time to find a new candidate to support, someone with a progressive record of fighting for LGBT rights. That’s why I’m supporting Freddy,” she said.

“Freddy is going to support us, not waffle,” said State Senator Tom Duane, a Chelsea Democrat, referring to Bloomberg’s position on a number of key issues from the right to marry to enforcing the anti-bullying law in schools. “I need Freddy Ferrer’s help in Albany to fight against Republicans.”

City Councilwoman Christine Quinn, another Chelsea Democrat, said, “The mayor is fighting us tooth and nail on the Equal Benefits Law,” which would require contractors doing business with the city to treat the domestic partners of their employees the same as spouses of workers. Bloomberg is in court challenging that law’s legality.

“He not only stripped domestic partners of their rights,” said Quinn, “but set a terrible precedent to limit these rights around the country.”

Bloomberg has said it is always wrong to use the contracting process for “social causes,” confirming that he would have opposed similar means in the fight against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s.

Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell, an Upper West Side Democrat, said, “It’s time we had a truly Democratic mayor running a Democratic city.”

The assemblyman’s sister, actress Rosie O’Donnell, appeared with Bloomberg at an education event this past week and had kind words for the mayor.

Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, a Democrat from Chelsea, who is straight but represents a heavily gay district, said, “It is outrageous that the mayor is in court saying that there is no right for gay people to marry.”

Bloomberg was ordered to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February, but has tied up that ruling in appeals that could take several years to resolve. Had he not appealed, gay marriage would now be a reality in New York City.

“I hope to find the right moment to drop that appeal,” Ferrer said. He has vowed to marry same-sex couples as mayor.

Glick was furious that police refused to intervene to remove an anti-Ferrer protester, Christopher Brodeur, from right next to the candidate during the rally (see story below). She called it “outrageous” that he was disrupting the speech of an “oppressed community.”

“I have been a friend of the LGBT community for years,” Ferrer said, “but I am particularly moved by the level of support the community has shown me during this election.”

He added, “Mike Bloomberg’s actions repeatedly let down the LGBT community and those of us who are committed to equal rights,” citing the mayor’s veto of the Dignity for All Students Act. “Mike Bloomberg sounds more like George W. Bush than a mayor who stands up for the rights of all New Yorkers.”

Ferrer cited his 1986 vote for the city’s lesbian and gay rights law when, as a Bronx city councilman, he received extraordinary pressure from his Catholic Church to vote against it. He also noted his support for same-sex marriage going back to 1996 and his appointment of an LGBT advisory council when he was the Bronx borough president.

Joining Ferrer were leaders of the LGBT Democratic clubs endorsing him: the Stonewall Democratic Club, the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Lambda Bronx, and the Out People of Color Political Action Club. Also on hand was Sean Patrick Maloney, introduced as the highest-ranking gay person to have served in the Clinton administration, who is a candidate for New York State attorney general in 2006.

Outgoing City Councilman Philip Reed, a Manhattan Valley/East Harlem Democrat, is also endorsing Ferrer. Notably absent was Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, a Lower East Side Democrat, whose office said she has not made an endorsement in the mayor’s race.

The Bloomberg campaign did not respond to requests for information about gay rallies planned on the mayor’s behalf.