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ESPA Pressed for Ferrer Nod

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Seven gay political groups urge statewide LGBT lobby to support the Democrat

A coalition of queer political groups has called on the Empire State Pride Agenda to “immediately endorse and offered unqualified support to Fernando Ferrer” to be the next mayor of New York City.

“I think there are some legitimate concerns, given the Empire State Pride Agenda’s history, that they may either refrain from endorsing or endorse Bloomberg,” said Gary Parker, president of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID), one of eight clubs in the Greater Voices coalition. “With the election around the corner it’s time for the Empire State Pride Agenda to stand with their brothers and sisters and stand with the candidate who has shown a true commitment to our equality.”

Seven of the clubs wrote the statewide gay lobbying group on October 4 reminding the organization that Ferrer, a Democrat, “has a proven record of working toward the equality of LGBT New Yorkers and our families.” The letter points out where the signers believe Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has failed.

The Bloomberg administration filed suit to stop a February ruling in a New York state court that required the city to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. After refusing to state a position for four years, Bloomberg now says he personally supports same-sex marriage.

Bloomberg vetoed the Dignity in All Schools Act, an anti-bullying bill that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and, following a City Council override, his administration now refuses to implement the bill.

The Bloomberg administration also filed a legal challenge, that to date has been successful, against the Equal Benefits Bill, a local law that requires businesses holding contracts worth $100,000 or more with the city to offer the same benefits to the domestic partners of their employees as are offered to the spouses of their workers.

In addition to LID, the letter was signed by Staten Island Stonewall, the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, the Lambda Democrats of the Bronx, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, and the Out People of Color Political Action Club. Altogether, the clubs claim tens of thousands of voters on their mailing lists and as members.

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, the eighth Greater Voices member, declined to sign on. A call seeking comment from Allen Roskoff, the Jim Owles club founder, was not returned.

Another leading gay political club in the city, the Log Cabin Republicans of New York City, is supporting incumbent Bloomberg.

Doug Robinson, a co-president of the people of color club, said the groups did not know the current state of endorsement decisions at ESPA, but they were still concerned.

“We’re not aware of any discussions, but we had heard rumors that ESPA may be endorsing the mayor,” Robinson said.

ESPA has made controversial endorsements in the past that involved backing Republicans in exchange for legislation.

In 2002, ESPA endorsed Republican Governor George E. Pataki in exchange for the promise of a vote in the state Senate on the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill, while controversial because it did not include protections for transgendered people, passed and became law in December 2002, a month and a half after Pataki’s re-election.

ESPA made no endorsement in the 1997 mayoral race between Democrat Ruth Messinger, who was sure to lose, but had an unassailable gay-friendly record, and Republican Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a certain winner with a uneven record on gay issues, but who promised to enact a domestic partnership law. Like Pataki, Giuliani soon delivered on his promise after reelection.

The Greater Voices members would also object to a “no endorsement” position.

“It would be more palatable than endorsing Bloomberg,” Robinson said. “Obviously, we want ESPA to endorse Freddie, but endorsing the mayor is just unacceptab­le.”

Joe Tarver, an ESPA spokesperson, said that the group would announce its endorsement decision in late October.

“We appreciate hearing from OUTPOCPAC and the Democratic clubs,” Tarver said. “No decision has been reached. Our political action committee process is under way and we’ll let you know later this month when a decision has been made.”

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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