The Dos and Don’ts of LGBTQ Politics

A cardinal rule in politics is that you don’t claim endorsements that you don’t have since you are sure to get caught. But the Chelsea Reform Democratic Club has done just that. In its bid to elect a slate headed by former State Senator Tom Duane, CRDC sent out a mailer claiming the endorsements of Congressmember Jerry Nadler and State Senator Brad Hoylman — neither of whom endorsed its slate. Last year, the club made the same claim regarding Council Speaker Corey Johnson. If you can’t be honest about your endorsements, why should anyone trust you to elect Supreme Court judges?

CRDC happens to be running against a slate headed by civil rights activist Ronnie Eldridge, who has been consistently active in federal, state, and city politics dating back to the Vietnam War — and a confidant of Robert Kennedy’s and a special assistant to Mayor John Lindsay. It was Eldridge who orchestrated Lindsay issuing the nation’s first executive order barring discrimination in city employment based on sexual orientation.

Full disclosure: I am running on the Eldridge slate. This Primary Day, voters have a clear choice with a slate headed by consistently progressive activists headed by Eldridge — or a slate headed by Duane, who maintains that those who did not support Christine Quinn are self-hating homosexuals while aligning himself with anti-gay Bronx Councilmember Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. If you live in Chelsea or Hell’s Kitchen and want to see progressive judges serve us in the State Supreme Court, please vote the Eldridge slate.

Habitat for Humanity has plans to create more than 100 units of “LGBTQ-friendly” senior affordable housing within Community Board 2’s boundaries on Elizabeth Street in Manhattan. Terri Cude, chair of CB2, does not support the project and sent a letter to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development asking, “Will this project provide any preference, set-aside, or other priority for affordable housing based on sexual orientation?,” knowing full well that it is against the law to do so. What is being proposed is desperately needed housing that will welcome LGBTQ seniors in partnership with SAGE and the community.

Want two words why the LGBTQ community should support Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal for term limits for Community Board members? Here it is: Terri Cude. Any attempt to choose a different location is just a tactic to defeat the project. If there is a second location, then let’s build two for the homeless. Shame on Cude and her sycophant followers.

I wrote in my last column about Brooklyn’s history in gay politics. In this column, I will focus on Brooklyn present. Brooklyn has a large LGBTQ opulation but lags behind Manhattan and Queens in the number of out elected officials. However, the borough seems to outnumber all others in the number of closeted elected officials. As I wrote previously, former City Council President Carol Bellamy, former Brooklyn Congressional candidate Allard Lowenstein, and former Congressmember Fred Richmond were all closeted.

Former State Senator and Councilmember Vincent Gentile created a firestorm in 2002 when he voted against the gay rights bill while in the State Senate, after pledging to support it to win LGBTQ support in his initial race. We were furious knowing he himself was gay. We outed him and he denied it. It was really terrific when civil rights attorney Tom Shanahan appeared on NY1 and spoke about having sex with Gentile while he served as an intern to the senator. There was another young man who worked on his staff who came forward to complain about being sexually harassed by Gentile. Gentile is simply a sad sack who always put his failing career ahead of the rights of our community.

Then there was Carl Kruger, who voted against the Marriage Equality bill on the State Senate’s first attempt. In response, we rallied at his sister’s Mill Basin home he used as his legal address. In reality, Kruger lived with his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s mother and brother about a mile away. Given a second chance, Kruger voted for the bill and then spent seven years in prison after being found guilty of corruption. He is still in the closet.

In addition, I know of two closeted Brooklyn elected officials currently serving in office. I will abide by the custom of not outing an elected official who has not affirmatively done us damage. I don’t necessarily agree with that policy, and it angers me to see closeted public officials being such hypocrites.

The Brooklyn County Democratic chair, Frank Seddio, is a close friend of mine — as is his wife, Joyce Becker. When Frank was in the New York State Assembly, he was a prime sponsor of the Marriage Equality bill. He took this position as a former police officer who represented a similar area of Brooklyn to those represented by Gentile and Kruger. Seddio’s entire state and city delegation all know that LGBTQ rights are a priority of their party’s leader.

Frank and I don’t always agree on candidates but we do discuss each of them. We also discuss all things gay. Brooklyn’s method of picking judges through a screening panel system adheres to reform principals and that system has chosen justices that are, by-and-large, progressive and intelligent — with the notable exception of homophobe Noach Dear. Brooklyn’s system works better then Manhattan’s, which has been highjacked by two operatives, Louise Dankberg and Joanna Saccone.

Brooklyn’s recently elected district attorney, Eric Gonzalez, is an amazing human being. He has reinvented the position and made his office a protector of the rights of all people. He lacks the “lock ‘em up” mentality. He has taken on racism and ethnic profiling and is innovative in protecting the rights of the accused. I was touched to learn of his visit to the upstate Bedford Correctional Facility to learn about and assist elderly women who do not deserve to die in prison.

I’ve observed many district attorneys in my time and Gonzalez is the most progressive and caring, with a good heart and a healthy conscience. He also cares deeply about the needs of the LGBTQ community and respects the rights of sex workers, as well.

Coming up: the good and the bad of Brooklyn political players and the good, the bad, and the sleaze of Primary 2018.