Bloomberg’s record on gay issues is dismal (Wash. Blade letter to the editor, 7.6.07)

Bloomberg’s record on gay issues is dismal
letter to the editor
Washington Blade
6 July 2007

To the Editors:

Re: “Bloomberg faulted for mixed record on gay issues” (news, June 29)

There is one major omission in Joshua Lynsen’s article — mention of the Dignity in All Schools Act, enacted in 2004 by the New York City Council over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s veto. DASA prohibits bias harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (as well as race, religion, ethnicity, disability and medical condition), and the training required by DASA would do much to combat the epidemic of homophobic and transgender-phobic harassment in our city’s schools.

But Bloomberg has called DASA “a silly law” and his administration refuses to implement the duly enacted statute. Just as on marriage, Bloomberg pledged to lobby the state legislature on the Dignity for All Students Act, but the mayor has done nothing to help move that bill through the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is currently stalled (primarily because of its transgender-inclusive language).

The article mentions the Empire State Pride Agenda’s praise for Bloomberg for signing the transgender rights bill into law; but the mayor had little choice, as the City Council passed it by a 45-5 vote, so any veto would have been swiftly overridden. The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, which led the campaign for that landmark legislation, working in partnership with the Pride Agenda, worked with other groups and the City Commission on Human Rights on guidelines for implementation of the law, but they were issued in December 2004 only after considerable resistance from the mayor’s office.

And because Bloomberg has under-funded the Commission, the task of educating employers and the public about the provisions of the law has fallen to a few small, under-funded transgender advocacy organizations here.

Yes, we would have same-sex marriage in New York City if it were not for Bloomberg’s appeal of the lower court ruling, but his hypocrisy on marriage is part of a larger pattern. High-level appointments to his administration and an elaborate annual Pride event at Gracie Mansion are part of a larger strategy to co-opt LGBT community leaders and organizations.

Anyone who is under the common misapprehension that our mayor is “pro-gay” needs only talk with activists here in New York to learn how truly dismal Bloomberg’s record on LGBT issues really is.

New York

Editors’ note: The writer is chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy.

This letter to the editor originally appeared in the 6 July 2007 issue of the Washington Blade, which is now defunct.

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