Once Fired for Being Gay, Michael Goldman Aims for Queens Civil Court

Michael Goldman hopes to make history in his quest to become a judge in Queens.
Twitter/ Michael Goldman

Michael Goldman recalls his first job after law school like it was yesterday — and that’s because he was fired because of his sexual orientation.

Two decades later, he is vying to become the first out gay judge elected in Queens.

“If you had told me then that I would ever be running in an election for judge, being completely open about my identity, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Goldman told Gay City News. “At that time, I wondered whether I could even have a successful career in law while being true myself. I’m just amazed and heartened by how far society has come in just the last 25 years.”

Goldman, 51, is running against Soma Syed, a Bangladeshi woman, attorney, and activist, in the primary race for a civil court seat in Queens County. In April, the Queens Chronicle reported on concerns surrounding Syed’s views on same-sex marriage. When the Chronicle asked Syed about her position on same-sex marriage, she did not offer a yes or no answer.

Goldman said he launched his campaign because he values serving the community.

“You’re the one [people] come to when they have disputes,” Goldman said. “When they can’t solve their own problems, they count on you to make decisions within the bounds of the law.”

Goldman has a long history within the New York City Court System, which has led him to work in Manhattan’s Criminal Court and in Queens Civil, Criminal, and Supreme Courts. He has also served as a court attorney, principal law clerk, and small claims arbitrator. Goldman, who received his bachelor’s degree from The University of Miami and his law and master’s degree in mass communication from Boston University, is also the co-chair of the Queens County Bar Association’s LGBTQ+ Committee.

He said that past experiences with anti-LGBTQ discrimination would inform his perspective in the role.

“I understand what it means to be discriminated against, and I understand what it is to be treated disrespectfully,” Goldman said. “That has shaped the way that I do my job.”

If elected, he plans to boost the “efficiency of courthouse operations.” The candidate has garnered endorsements from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club and the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, among others.

In the midst of Goldman’s historic campaign, Governor Andrew Cuomo just nominated out gay Judge Anthony “Tony” Cannataro to the New York State Court of Appeals. If confirmed by the State Senate, Cannataro would follow in the footsteps of Paul Feinman, the first out gay man on the bench. Feinman died in March.

“I think that will be a great thing for the people of New York, certainly a great thing for the LGBT community,” Goldman said regarding Cannataro’s nomination. “To see members of our community succeeding and advancing in their careers — it gives me hope for the future.”

Goldman said Feinman’s legacy will live on through the next generation of LGBTQ youth, and he credited Feinman with laying the groundwork for the “hope that [queer youth] can live successful lives and be open about who they are.”

To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter