NYC Mayor Race: Christine Quinn Cheered and Jeered At LGBT Mayoral Forum

After years of preparation, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn finally announced her run for Mayor of NYC this month. Quinn is reportedly the front-runner in the race, but on Wednesday, Quinn and four other candidates met at an LGBT Mayoral Forum, and according to the New York Daily News, Quinn was booed for her resistance to paid sick leave.Everything else she said, however, was well-received.

Surprising to some, Quinn’s video announcing her candidacy makes no mention of her 2012 marriage to Kim Catullo or being gay. Her video does point to her record of passing living-wage laws, supporting the right to choose and preventing wrongful deportation of immigrants as City Council Speaker.  Before serving in public office Quinn served as a tenants rights organizer and head of the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project.

The waters leading up to Quinn’s front-runner position have been choppy. On one hand, Christine Quinn is somewhat of a liberal icon as the first female and openly gay speaker in NYC. She also actively boycotted NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because of a policy banning the marching of homosexuals. But as the Guardian notes, Quinn received a D+ in 2011 on the Human Rights Project scorecard put out by the Urban Justice Center due to stalling votes and legislation pertaining to the advancement of human rights.  

In some of her moves to become a powerful politician in New York City, Christine Quinn has raised the hackles of her liberal supporters. For example, she was behind Bloomberg’s third term for mayor, a move many of her supporters rejected. This support reflects Quinn’s “chummy” relationship to Bloomberg and as a New York magazine story from 2009 noted, “Now that Bloomberg has won his second term as mayor in a landslide and is term-limited from running again, he has been eager to forge a partnership with the speaker to secure his legacy. And Quinn has seized the opportunity.” Other mayoral candidates Public Advocate Bill De Blasio and Comptroller John Lui are unlikely to let Quinn live this decision down.

Her support of Bloomberg's third term also likely played some part in one response to Quinn’s stance on paid sick leave in the form of a fake website. The website mocks Quinn’s position stating, “I stand with Mayor Michael Bloomberg in opposing paid sick days for New Yorkers.” Quinn currently does not support paid sick leaving arguing the current economic climate would no allow for such legislation.

Thursday's LGBT Mayoral Forum for the 2013 Democratic Primary was held largely to discuss LGBT issues facing NYC communities, including adoption and funding for LGBT homelessness, though the forum was open to other issues as well. Quinn has been endorsed by several LGBT including the Empire State Pride Agenda, whose executive director Nathan Schaefer spoke to the Wall Street Journal earlier this year after the endorsement, stating, “She's got a great track record of delivering for the LGBT community and our families, so we are thrilled to endorse her candidacy.” Emily’s List, dedicated to electing Democratic women, also supports Quinn.

Christine Quinn is a politician who happens to be a woman and an outspoken lesbian.  Should Quinn be elected mayor she would pass two goal posts at once: first female mayor of NYC and first openly gay mayor of NYC. These are remarkable achievements, but the LGBT community and larger voting public have more on their mind than breaking barriers.

As the mayoral race continues, it's likely Quinn will more aggressively be taken to task both by her competition and her potential allies in the LGBT community for some of the political cozying up she has done in her race to the top. Whether she can withstand this scrutiny and still take the democratic ticket remains to be seen.