Just two days after homophobic Brooklyn Councilmember Chaim Deutsch entered the Democratic primary race for the Ninth Congressional district, his opponents started slamming his dismal record on LGBTQ issues and encouraging supporters to soundly reject his quest for Capitol Hill.
Incumbent Brooklyn Congressmember Yvette Clarke sent a fundraising email to her supporters January 23 highlighting Gay City News’ reporting on Deutsch’s long history of homophobia, and another candidate in the race, Adem Bunkeddeko — who snagged the endorsement of Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID) that same day — also raised the same alarms about Deutsch’s bigotry in his own fundraising email to backers.
“A 5th opponent has jumped into the NY-9 Democratic primary — and he has an extreme anti-LGBTQ+ agenda,” Clarke wrote in her email to her followers. She then pointed to an excerpt of a Gay City News piece pointing out Deutsch’s City Council vote against banning so-called conversion therapy, which is the dangerous and debunked practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Conversion therapy is a dangerous practice that has been discredited by countless medical professionals and organizations, and is akin to torture,” Clarke wrote. “It has no place in our city or our country. If Councilmember Deutsch won’t protect the safety and wellbeing of EVERYONE in our community, he has no place representing Brooklyn in Congress.”
Bunkeddeko used his email to point out three examples of Deutsch’s anti-LGBTQ actions previously reported by Gay City News — that he opposed the citywide conversion therapy ban, voted against a transgender and non-binary rights bill allowing people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates, and rejected a resolution encouraging the Department of Education to provide support for LGBTQ students.
“On Tuesday, City Councilman Chaim Deutsch filed to run for Congress, and I’m counting on all my supporters to help send him a strong message out of the gate: If you support anti-LGBTQ+ policies and oppose criminal justice reform, then you have no business representing Central Brooklyn in Washington,” Bunkeddeko stated.
He continued, “The last thing we need in Congress are so-called ‘Conservative Democrats’ who vote in line with Republicans and who don’t embody the values of our party. If Councilman Deutsch is entering the race, it clearly means he thinks he can win. Let’s prove him wrong…”
Bunkeddeko also took aim at Deutsch when Bill Nye, a resident of the Ninth Congressional district, spoke up at LID’s endorsement meeting and asked Bunkeddeko about his new opponent’s potential ability to leapfrog progressives in the race and mobilize conservative voters to win.
“There are a number of folks running in the race,” Bunkeddeko responded. “But at the end of the day, if folks like yourself, if folks across our district reject Mr. Deutsch outright, I think we can defeat him.”
After Bunkeddeko’s speech, Nye told Gay City News that he is afraid Deutsch will try rallying voters in the community to support him.
“He’s not the first homophobic elected official,” Nye said. “But, living in the district, I’ve known about him and I don’t like [his campaign] at all.”
Gay City News’ reporting about Deutsch, who is the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Veterans, has included stories about his voting record, his alleged mistreatment of lesbian military veterans, and his 2013 homophobic attack on a political opponent simply because she was endorsed by the National Organization for Women.
“I don’t know how you could represent this community when they have an agenda with gays and lesbians,” Deutsch said to Theresa Scavo, who was running in the Democratic primary for the seat Deutsch currently occupies in the 48th Council District.
Other Democratic candidates vying to represent the district, which stretches from Barclays Center to Brownsville and down to Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay, include small business owner Lutchi Gayot, and community organizer Isiah James.
Meanwhile, some in the LGBTQ community are finding new, creative ways to shed light on Deutsch’s campaign. The growing alarms about his anti-LGBTQ record prompted one reader to email Gay City News on January 24 to mention that they created a website — http://chaimdeutsch.org/ — which leads to a website mirroring the National LGBTQ Task Force’s website.
Perhaps there is some humor in all of this, after all.