New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Sunday officially launched her mayoral campaign.
“Today I’m announcing, making it official, that I’m running for mayor of the city of New York,” she said in a video posted to her campaign website. “I’m running because I love this city. It is the greatest place in the world.”
Quinn mentioned in the video she was executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project in the late 1990s. She also referenced her grandparents who immigrated from Ireland a century ago and her mother’s long battle with breast cancer when she was a child.
“My mother’s life and death left me with a belief that our obligation is to use every moment we have on this earth to make it a better place, to make other people’s lives better, to make sure nobody is left behind because they might need a little more help,” Quinn said.
A Quinnipiac University poll released late last month finds Quinn, who would become the city’s first female and openly gay mayor, leads New York City Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and other leading Democratic challengers. The survey also found 63 percent of respondents are comfortable with a gay mayoral candidate.
Quinn told the Washington Blade last September LGBT issues remain an integral part of her agenda.
She introduced a bill in 2004 to require city contractors to offer equal benefits to registered same-sex domestic partners and married heterosexual couples. Quinn also worked with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Education to implement an anti-bullying curriculum in the city’s public schools.
Quinn has frequently spoken out against anti-LGBT violence in the five boroughs — and she joined other New York City officials who criticized then-Puerto Rico Gov. Luís Fortuño for what they contend was his unwillingness to stop anti-LGBT violence on the island in the wake of gay teenager Jorge Steven López Mercado’s 2009 murder.
She also continues to boycott the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade because organizers prohibit gay men and lesbians from marching.
Quinn, who married her long-time partner Kim Catullo last May, told the Blade “one could feel the joy on the streets” after the New York’s same-sex marriage law passed in 2011.
“We had the opportunity to publicly commit in a legal ceremony in front of our family and friends, that we are a couple, we are family,” she said. “We are just as important as any other family. I will always be grateful for that day and remember that day for the rest of my life.”
In spite of her advocacy on these and other issues, Quinn has faced criticism from LGBT Democrats and other progressives over her support of the extension of term-limits that allowed the mayor, herself and other city officials to run for a third-term.
She acknowledged in 2008 a City Council slush fund appropriated more than $17 million to community organizations that did not exist. Quinn sparked further controversy last July when she demanded the president of New York University remove Chick-fil-A from campus in response to CEO Dan Cathy’s opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples.
“Speaker Christine Quinn running for mayor of New York City creates an exciting and historic opportunity for LGBT people in New York,” Melissa Sklarz, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, told the Blade. “Having an out lesbian like Chris succeeding in this campaign will send a message around the world that homophobia and politics do not mix in the 21st century.”
“We are enthusiastic about Christine Quinn’s official announcement that she’s running to be the next mayor of New York,” Nathan Schaefer, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, added. “The LGBT community could have no greater ally in Gracie mansion.”
Victory Fund CEO Chuck Wolfe also welcome Quinn’s announcement.
“Chris is so clearly and deeply passionate about New York City and the people who call it home,” he said. “She works hard to make sure the city works for everyone, and that’s what people expect of their elected leaders. As mayor of New York City, she will be a worldwide symbol of what openly LGBT people can achieve when we work hard, earn the respect of our communities and fight to win.”