Since last November, we’ve seen Trump-emboldened Republicans try to roll back many of the hard-fought rights of our city’s LGBTQ communities.
And since November, I’ve never been more proud to be from New York — a city of resistance where thousands of people have stood up for justice and tolerance. And where City Hall has vowed to keep fighting by our side.
Recently, though, I was ashamed of a string of insults and flip-flopping coming from the leading Republican candidate for mayor. Nicole Malliotakis, a state assemblymember, does not reflect the heart and smarts that make New York strong and our LGBTQ community safe.
For years, Malliotakis has tried to block our march toward equality, voting in 2011 against the landmark Marriage Equality Act that made our state a beacon for loving couples nationwide. Now that she’s running for mayor, she claims to have changed her mind. Then, she tried to explain her shift: two of her friends got married — no thanks to her — and their right to do so is, anyway, now the “law of the land,” she said.
That’s not leadership — that’s using friends to cover for timid, bigoted opinions and changing positions out of politics, not principle.
What’s more, Malliotakis has consistently opposed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a state bill to make gender identity a protected class in human rights law, preventing transgender New Yorkers from discrimination in job and housing markets and boosting penalties for hate crimes.
And of course, she voted for President Donald Trump — the man who chose anti-LGBTQ poster boy Mike Pence as vice president, rescinded President Barack Obama’s guidance to protect transgender students in schools, is attempting to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which provides essential health services to many in the LGBTQ community, and has issued an order for the military to prevent service by out transgender soldiers.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Assemblymember Malliotakis vowed as mayor to consider reversing the city’s progressive public bathroom policy for transgender New Yorkers, claiming “perverted individuals” have exploited such protections in other states.
For the record, there are zero instances of this happening. It’s a hateful myth shared by homophobic bigots.
But I was surprised. Surprised that in 2017, a candidate for mayor in New York City — one of the most tolerant and open cities in the world — was actually pedaling this harmful propaganda. And scared of what would happen if she made it to City Hall.
These kind of sick scare tactics and right-wing dog whistles have no place in our city and cause real harm to our community. Yet while real leaders fight bigoted fears, Nicole Malliotakis is stoking them. Let’s tell her that Trump’s rhetoric of hate won’t work in New York. We already have a president who refuses to stand up for the LGBTQ community. We don’t need someone who shares his views in City Hall.
City Councilmember Ritchie Torres represents District 15 in the Bronx.