In an interview on Wednesday, New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn, who would make history as the city’s first openly gay or lesbian mayor if elected this fall, dismissed any notion that support for her from within the LGBT community might be soft or that one of her opponents, the city’s public advocate Bill de Blasio, is getting significant support from the LGBT community.
De Blasio, who for the first time took the lead in the race for the Democratic primary in a poll this week, has been endorsed by some prominent LGBT public figures, such as actors Alan Cumming and Cynthia Nixon, who hosted a fundraiser for him. And Quinn, as New York City Council speaker, has been criticized on various issues by some gay activists and figures, including tennis legend Martina Navratilova.
Veteran gay activist Bill Dobbs has called Quinn "a classic old-style machine politician wrapped in lavender paper” and the Facebook group Queers Against Quinn regularly criticizes her as insufficiently progressive and as a Bloomberg lackey who is doing the bidding of the “super rich.”
Quinn, who recently got the endorsement of Edie Windsor, the 84-year-widow whose landmark case before the Supreme Court resulted in the Defense of Marriage Act being struck down, hit back at the critics in a conversation with me on SiriusXM Progress, sloughing off de Blasio’s LGBT support.
“It’s obvious that Bill de Blasio has some celebrity endorsements,” she said. “But I am so proud of the rank and file support of tens of thousands of LGBT New Yorkers, of the Victory Fund, of the Human Rights Campaign, of the Empire State Pride Agenda. You know, it’s nice to have celebrities. It’s fun to have celebrities supporting you. But I think this is about New Yorkers and their future and the future of everyday LGBT New Yorkers and that’s who I’m going to be fighting for, and that’s why I’m proud to have their support and the support of the major LGBT organizations that support them.”
Quinn also said that she is “absolutely” a progressive and has a “clearly progressive record,” laying out what she sees as her successes on women’s issues, immigrant issues, workers’ issues and tenant’s rights. The criticism comes from people who believe politicians shouldn’t ever work with those who are “more moderate,” she said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my work as a progressive,” she said. “Now, look, there are some in the progressive movement who believe that you shouldn’t work with anybody who is more moderate, but I don’t take that perspective. Anybody that I can work with that will help improve the lives of New Yorkers, I will work with that person.”
Quinn also discussed the controversial stop-and-frisk policy in New York, which a federal judge this week ruled unconstitutional, reiterating her support for reforms and for a pending bill that will create an inspector general, which she says has the votes to override Bloomberg’s veto. But she said she’d retain Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who’d called the judge's ruling "offensive."
“He would have to know that unconstitutional stops would end when I’m mayor,” she said of Kelly, “and that the number of stops has to dramatically go down.”
Listen to the full interview and to interviews with candidates Bill de Blasio and Bill Thompson below.