When a Lesbian Marriage Trivializes a Political Career

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Council Speaker Christine Quinn in her City Hall office, with a photo of her father, Lawrence, behind her. | DONNA ACETO

Christine Quinn, just named to Out magazine’s annual Out100, began her career as a tenant activist, then got on board on the ground floor of State Senator Tom Duane’s political career, becoming his chief of staff while he served on the City Council. After several years as executive director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, Quinn was elected to the City Council in 1999, when Duane resigned to assume his Senate seat.

Since 2006, Quinn has been the speaker of the Council and become the most powerful woman in New York State politics. She is widely considered a leading candidate in next year’s mayoral race, and has broad and heart-felt support among many in the LGBT community. Quinn also has critics in progressive circles, including some queer activists, over her close ties to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and her key role in lifting term limits in 2009 to allow the mayor and herself to seek another four years in office.

Quinn’s wedding this past spring was a huge media event, and with Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and several US House members in attendance, it was also undoubtedly an important political moment in her career.

That wedding is what Out magazine thinks its readers should know about the speaker. In its release about Quinn’s inclusion in the Out100, the magazine wrote, “Christine Quinn & Kim Catullo: If New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is elected the city’s mayor in 2013, many will point to her nuptials this May to her longtime girlfriend lawyer Kim Catullo, as the deciding factor. Quinn would become the first female and first openly gay mayor of New York, and her lavish wedding, is cited as having helped soften a legendarily tough image.”

Quinn is no doubt thrilled to be named to the Out100… I guess.


Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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Reader feedback

Perley J. Thibodeau says:
Paul: Sex has nothing to do with it. People know Quinn's track record politically, and we just don't want her in politics.
Nov. 14, 2012, 1:29 pm
Jon Winkleman says:
When Nancy Pelosi became the first women elected speaker a majority of the articles written were about her wardrobe or jewelry. When Hillary Clinton was elected to the Senate a disproportionate amount of ink was spent on her clothes. She quietly wore the same style of black pants suit to work every day so the press would have nothing to write about except her job performance. There is always a great deal of sexism in how the press write about women in politics. However Quinn's marriage is a mixed thing. I am very disappointed that of all media outlets Out Magazine did write about her long resume in both politics and community activism. However Quinn was the hardest working lobbists for NY's marriage law that wasn't based in Albany. She brilliantly made her argument personal rather than intellectual by talking about her partner Kim and how both of their parents wanted to see the wedding while they were still alive. In the process Quinn also became a national figure talking about her family and why they needed legal civil marriage. So I do understand why in 2012, the focus is on Quinn and marriage however SOME mention of her other accomplishments was in order.'
Nov. 14, 2012, 3:37 pm
Not a Quinn Fan says:
Her actual support among lgbt's citywide and in her district is actually quite thin. In 2009 she barely broke 50% against two other candidates for her seat. Her lobbying for marriage equality was no different, and in fact arguable less meaningful than the years of grassroots constituency advocacy and community organizing, not to mention Gov. Cuomo knocking some heads together to unify the final push. She abandoned her progressive roots long ago, and is now captive to real estate interests, big retailers and businesses who oppose paid sick leave. Sen. Duane created a monster by mentoring her. Her narcissistic power-mongering does not reflect the lgbt community. I will not be signing my name to this, due to the fact that Speaker Quinn is notoriously vindictive.
Nov. 14, 2012, 8:38 pm
PPerley J. Thibodeau says:
We voted three times for term limits to get rid of Quinn and look what she and Bloomberg did to over ride our wishes. Their political endorsements mean nothing also, as it looks like we will finally be rid of the both of them come the next election.
Nov. 15, 2012, 9:53 am
Donny Moss says:
Like me, many LGBT voters in NYC are starting to look beyond Quinn's identity to her actual record, and what they are learning isn't one bit good. Afterall, it is Quinn who overturned term limits after NYers voted twice to keep them; it is Quinn who allocated millions of taxpayer dollars to fake charities in the city budget (aka slush fund scandal) and doled them out in exchange for political favors; it is Quinn who has killed vital human rights bills in committee, even though they have a veto-proof majority of sponsors in the City Council; it is Quinn who turned a blind eye to the false prostitution arrests of middle aged gay men in her district in the city's attempt to shut down porn shops because she didn't want to speak out against the NYPD vice squad (until she had no choice); it is Quinn who has killed every meaningful animal protection bill introduced in the City Council since she became Speaker in 2006, etc. In an attempt to accumulate more and more power, Quinn has blazed a trail of destruction behind her, while pumping her fists in the air at every LGBT event in order to preserve her base of support.
Nov. 15, 2012, 10:48 am
Perley J. Thibodeau says:
Would you believe she once signed a nasty reply to me in the New York Times with the false name of; Joy B. Rich? She played around with several aliases in messages to me on the New York Post where nobody has a good word to say for her. But I could see through all of them, including Debbie Brechenschnieder. After all, she is the only one who would write a message in praise of Christine Quinn.
Nov. 15, 2012, 7:43 pm
Mark says:
When she overturned term limits, I vowed I would never vote for her again, no matter what she ran for. I will hold to that vow.
Nov. 16, 2012, 5:45 pm
Bill Brina says:
Hmmm, our esteemed editor fumes about the extent to which an article about Ms.Quinn's wedding trivializes her political career, but in response his readers' comments argue that Ms. Quinn has essentially trivialized her own political career by "selling out" on issues of concern to the gay and progressive communities. As a gay friendly straight who lives in Albany but loves the City, I am but an interested bystander. However, I will note that Ms. Quinn's attempt to "position" herself as New York's next Mayor are more than a bit transparent, and disheartening to those of us who believe that effective governance requires real leadership. And a necessary, though not sufficient condition for real leadership is that the leader stand for SOMETHING. Like or loathe Mike Bloomberg (and I've done both), there's little doubt that he knows what he believes and that he works hard to advance the goals he considers important. I can't tell WHAT if anything Ms. Quinn believes in, which may be why the trappings of her status become more important. This entire subject cries out for a good column or two from our good friend Nathan Riley. I hereby challenge him to come out of what appears to have been his temporary retirement from the commentariart and devote some of his undoubted skill and energy to addressing the issues Paul's article and these comments raise.
Nov. 16, 2012, 5:55 pm
Paul Schindler says:
Actually, I think what I "fumed" about was the media's trivialization of all questions political in our society today, so that fabulous weddings -- that "soften" a tough image -- become the narrative in an account of a major political figure. And then much of that same media will shed crocodile tears over our politics and our campaigns having no substance. Love her or hate her, I think there's a whole lot more important things to say about Christine Quinn than that her wedding could prove decisive in her political advancement. And I think it's fair to hold the LGBT press to a particularly high standard. We don't have so much excess political clout that we can act like politics is some leisure time, weekend activity. My piece wasn't really about Chris Quinn at all.
Nov. 16, 2012, 9:32 pm
Perley J. Thibodeau says:
Whatever the intention of the article was, the fact remains that Ms. Quinn is an out and out opportunist who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Yes, what she wants. She ran around barging in on gay weddings without an invitation with a handkerchief to dry her phony tears in one hand, and a well paid city hall photographer in the other to record her publicity seeking reactions. Now that she got an award that really belongs to Andrew Cuomo she wants, with false modesty, to trivialize that by sobbing in public that her political career has been jeopardized for what she supposedly did for the gay rights movement. The city of New York has buildings that are so tightly built across the street from each other that people on the fiftieth floor are looking into the bathroom windows of the people on the fiftieth floor in close next door proximity to them.
Nov. 16, 2012, 10:55 pm
Perley J. Thibodeau says:
The streets on the upper East Side are now dark alleyways overcrowded with buses, trucks, automobiles and any other moving vehicle that can spew toxic fumes up to the floors of the buildings and destroy the lungs of the people trying to live in these enclosed funnels. And she's been paid well in kick backs from the real estate developers to build these buildings that, laughingly enough, are not selling or being rented because nobody in today's depressed economy can afford to live in them. If you are at a loss as to fillers for your newspaper, then do what the old time radio announcers used to do to fill dead air time. And that's to describe the area that you are working in. Even that would be more interesting than what Ms. Quinn wants the world to think of her.
Nov. 16, 2012, 10:57 pm
Andy Zwerin says:
Jon, I beg to differ on your characterization that "Quinn was the hardest working lobbists for NY's marriage law that wasn't based in Albany". There are many people that I personally witnessed working significantly harder to win the passage of marriage in NY. Many of us felt that Quinn was being opportunistic in her engagement on this issue and seemed to just show up and take credit. This seems to be a theme with Quinn (and many other politicians).
Nov. 30, 2012, 12:02 pm
Stuart Baanstra says:
"the focus is on Quinn and marriage"? What focus? Why don't any of the media outlets mention that religious organisations continue to view her as immoral?
Feb. 15, 2013, 3:35 am
Stuart Baanstra says:
"Quinn's wedding was an important political moment in her career"? Sounds like it wasn't whole-heartedly and event performed out of love. Perhaps there's some truth in our religious detractors saying we're immoral.
Feb. 15, 2013, 3:38 am
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this is something that will be debated forever.
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July 7, 2013, 11:14 am

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