New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn took her campaign to become New York’s first gay and first female mayor to the historic Stonewall Inn on Friday night for a rally launching her final push leading up to the city’s Democratic mayoral primary on Tuesday.
The rally, which drew more than 200 people, including many of New York’s most prominent LGBT rights advocates, came one day before an NBC 4 New York-Wall Street Journal poll showed Quinn trailing her lead rival, New York Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, by 16 points.
The poll also showed that she and rival Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller, were tied for second place in the race with 20 percent each.
Earlier polls had Quinn in the lead, but in the past month de Blasio has surged, according to several polls, putting him at 36 percent and in striking distance to capture the 40 percent threshold needed to win the Democratic nomination outright without having to compete in a runoff.
“We’re standing on hallowed ground on a place where people before us said we’re not going to get pushed around anymore,” Quinn told the Friday night rally. The event was held outside the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village gay bar that was the site of the 1969 riots by gays and transgender people in response to a police raid that’s credited with triggering the modern LGBT rights movement.
“And you know what?” said Quinn. “In the course of this campaign we’ve taken a lot of hits. We’ve been attacked over and over by my opponents and by independent expenditures. And we’re right here tonight on ground where people fought back against things much harder than we have – much harder than the attacks I’ve taken in this campaign.”
Added Quinn, “We’re moving forward because nobody has ever handed our community anything. We got there by organizing, by joining with our allies, by educating, and by pushing forward. And that’s what we’re going to do until Tuesday.”
The crowd replied by chanting, “Win with Quinn! Win with Quinn!”
But earlier in the day de Blasio was also cheered by gays as he campaigned in nearby Chelsea, a gay neighborhood in the heart of Quinn’s City Council district, according to a report by the New York Daily News, which has endorsed Quinn.
The LGBT-supportive de Blasio’s warm reception in what some said should have been unfriendly territory was viewed as yet another sign of Quinn’s struggle to capture enough votes to win a slot in the two-candidate runoff election scheduled to take place Oct. 1 if no candidate wins 40 percent of the overall vote on Tuesday.
Kenneth Sherrill, a political science professor emeritus at New York’s Hunter College, told the Blade on Sunday that Quinn’s slide in the polls and struggle to beat Thompson for a second-place finish has “absolutely nothing” to do with Quinn’s sexual orientation.
Sherrill and other political observers say Quinn’s troubles, among other things, are due to the perception by many voters that she is closely aligned with three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has become highly unpopular in the past few years.
“When you’re speaker you have a choice,” Sherrill said. “You either can oppose everything the mayor does or you can be a partner in governing and help shape policies and make them wiser and improve things,” he said. “And doing things that make you an effective speaker are frequently things that don’t make you a popular candidate for mayor.”
Spokespersons for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and the Human Rights Campaign, national LGBT advocacy groups that have endorsed Quinn, said volunteers and staff members from the two groups were in New York working on the Quinn campaign’s get-out-the-vote effort.
In addition to the Daily News, the New York Times and the New York Post have also endorsed Quinn for mayor, calling her a skilled and seasoned politician capable of doing the best job of running New York City at this time.
The NBC 4 NY-Wall Street Journal poll, which was conducted by the Marist polling firm, showed de Blasio with 36 percent; Quinn and Thompson with 20 percent; former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner with 7 percent; New York Comptroller John Liu with 5 percent; and Bronx pastor Erick Salgado and former City Council member Sal Albanese each with 1 percent.
The poll shows that women voters support de Blasio over Quinn by a margin of 34 percent to 21 percent even though Quinn is the only woman in the race. The poll shows that de Blasio is leading Thompson among black voters by a margin of 39 percent to 25 percent even though Thompson is the only black candidate in the race and de Blasio is white.
Gay man shot to death on NYC subway train
Police say shooting was random and unprovoked
A gay man became the latest victim of a New York City subway shooting on Sunday when police say a male suspect shot Daniel Enriquez, 48, in the chest in an unprovoked random act inside a subway car traveling from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Police on Tuesday arrested Andrew Abdullah, 25, who they identified as the sole suspect in the shooting, after attorneys representing him from the Legal Aid Society attempted to arrange for his surrender, according to a report by NBC 4 News in New York.
Police said the shooting occurred around 11:42 a.m. while the train was traveling over the Manhattan Bridge. The then unidentified suspect walked off the train and disappeared into a crowd of people when the train stopped at the Canal Street station minutes after Enriquez lay dying on the floor on the train car, police said.
Possibly based on the viewing of images from video surveillance cameras, police sources told the New York Times that investigators identified the suspect as Abdullah whose last known residence was in Manhattan, as a suspect in the fatal shooting. NYPD officials released two photos of Abdullah and appealed to the public for help in finding him.
Adam Pollack, Enriquez’s partner of 18 years, told both the Times and the New York Post that Enriquez took the subway to meet his brother for brunch. According to Pollack, Enriquez previously had taken Ubers into Manhattan, where he worked and socialized, from the couple’s home in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But in recent weeks the cost of taking an Uber rose dramatically to more than $80 for the round-trip fare, prompting Enriquez to begin taking the subway, Pollack told the Times and Post.
“I don’t love the subway,” the Post quoted Pollack as saying. “I know how dangerous New York is. It took me two years to get back on the subway. I don’t feel safe on the subway,” he said.
The fatal shooting of Enriquez took place six weeks after another gunman identified as Frank R. James began shooting inside a crowded rush-hour subway car in Brooklyn, injuring at least 23 people.
Pollack told the Times his partner was a native New Yorker who worked as a researcher for the Goldman Sachs investment bank in Manhattan. Enriquez was the eldest of five children and a beloved uncle known for taking his nieces and nephews for ice cream in local parks and out to amusement parks when he visited them, Pollack told the Times.
When asked by the Washington Blade if any evidence has surfaced to indicate suspect Abdullah targeted Enriquez because he thought Enriquez was gay, a police public information officer said the investigation into the incident was continuing.
“There’s nothing on that now,” the officer said. “Everything, the motive, and all of that stuff, is part of the investigation and that is still ongoing. So, there’s no comment on that yet.”
The Times reports that court records show Abdullah, who is now in police custody, was charged along with others in 2017 in an 83-count indictment for alleged gang related activity. The following year he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of weapons and other charges in 2018 and was sentenced the following year to a prison term and released on parole several months later.
According to the Times, he faced new gun charges in 2020, was charged in 2021 with assault and endangering a child, and in April of this year was charged with possession of stolen property and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
“We are devastated by this senseless tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with Dan’s family at this difficult time,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said in a statement.
Federal judge blocks White House from ending Title 42
Advocacy groups say policy further endangered LGBTQ asylum seekers
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic was to have ended Monday, but it remains in place after a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end it.
The White House last month announced it would terminate Title 42, a policy the previous administration implemented in March 2020.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Louisiana on May 20 issued a ruling that prevented the Biden administration from terminating the Trump-era policy. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a statement announced the Justice Department will appeal the decision, while adding the administration “will continue to enforce the CDC’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”
“This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8 (of the U.S. Code),” said Jean-Pierre.
Advocacy groups and members of Congress with whom the Washington Blade has spoken since Title 42 took effect say it continues to place LGBTQ asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups who seek refuge in the U.S. at even more risk.
Oluchi Omeoga, co-director of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project, last month described Title 42 as a “racist and harmful policy.” ORAM (Organization of Refuge, Asylum and Migration) Executive Director Steve Roth said Title 42 “put asylum seekers in harm’s way in border towns and prevented them from seeking safety in the United States.”
Title 42 was to have ended less than a month after five members of Congress from California visited two LGBTQ shelters for asylum seekers in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.
The Council for Global Equality, which organized the trip, in a tweet after Summerhays issued his ruling described Title 42 as a “catastrophe.”
“The Biden administration cannot breathe a sign of relief until it’s a matter of the past,” said the Council for Global Equality on Saturday. “We remain committed to end Title 42.”
— The Council for Global Equality (@Global_Equality) May 20, 2022
U.S. Army considers allowing LGBTQ troops to transfer from hostile states
Proposed guidance remains in draft form
A draft policy is circulating among top officials of the U.S. Army that would allow soldiers to be able to request a transfer if they feel state or local laws discriminate against them based on gender, sex, religion, race or pregnancy.
Steve Beynon writing for Military.com reported last week the guidance, which would update a vague service policy to add specific language on discrimination, is far from final and would need approval from Army Secretary Christine Wormuth. But if enacted, it could be one of the most progressive policies for the Army amid a growing wave of local anti-LGBTQ and restrictive contraception laws in conservative-leaning states, where the Army has a majority of its bases and major commands.
“Some states are becoming untenable to live in; there’s a rise in hate crimes and rise in LGBT discrimination,” Lindsay Church, executive director of Minority Veterans of America, an advocacy group, told Military.com. “In order to serve this country, people need to be able to do their job and know their families are safe. All of these states get billions for bases but barely tolerate a lot of the service members.”
This policy tweak to the existing Army regulations pertaining to compassionate reassignment would clarify the current standard rules, which are oft times fairly vague.
A source in the Army told Beynon the new guidance has not yet been fully worked out through the policy planning process or briefed to senior leaders including the Army secretary or the office of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“The Army does not comment on leaked, draft documents,” Angel Tomko, a service spokesperson, told Military.com in an emailed statement. “AR 600-100 and 600-200 establish the criteria for which soldiers may request for a compassionate reassignment. The chain of command is responsible for ensuring soldiers and families’ needs are supported and maintain a high quality of life.”
The Crystal City-based RAND Corporation had published a study on sexual orientation, gender identity and health among active duty servicemembers in 2015 that listed approximate six percent of LGBTQ troops are gay or bisexual and one percent are trans or nonbinary.
A senior analyst for RAND told the Washington Blade on background those numbers are likely much lower than in actuality as 2015 was less than four years after the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and prior to when the Trump administration enacted the trans servicemember ban in 2017, which has had a chilling effect on open service.
The Biden administration repealed the Trump ban.
Another factor is that the current 18-24 year old troops colloquially referred to as “Gen Z” are much more inclined to embrace an LGBTQ identity and that would cause the numbers to be higher than reported.
Also factored in is uncertainty in the tweaking of policy in light of the recent leak of the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision that would effectively repeal Roe v. Wade.
According to Military.com it’s unclear whether the Army’s inclusion of pregnancy on the list would protect reproductive care for soldiers if Roe v. Wade is overturned. That language could be intended to protect pregnant service members or their families from employment or other discrimination, but could also be a means for some to argue for transfers based on broader reproductive rights.
One advocacy group pointed out that the current wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation will negatively impact the moral of service members:
“What we’re seeing across the board is a small group of elected officials who are trying to politicize and weaponize LGBTQ identities in despicable ways. They’re not only doing that to our youth, but the collateral damage is hurting our service members,” Jacob Thomas, communications director for Common Defense, a progressive advocacy organization, told Military.com. “[Troops] can’t be forced to live in places where they aren’t seen as fully human.”
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