LGBTNew York CityPoliticsTransgender Rights

Richard Aborn for Manhattan DA

Aborn photos

I am delighted to announce my own personal endorsement of Richard Aborn for Manhattan district attorney. Aborn is running for a position held by Robert Morgenthau since 1975, and when the legendary DA announced that he would not seek a tenth term to the most powerful prosecutor’s office in the country, the open seat immediately attracted a field of candidates for the Democratic nomination, including Leslie Crocker Snyder and Cy Vance, Jr. as well as Richard Aborn.

The Manhattan district attorney is widely regarded as the most powerful prosecutor in the United States, and with that seat opening up for the first time in 35 years, this is rightly regarded as one of the most significant primary contests in New York City this year. On April 22, I had a chance to see the three candidates New York County district attorney in action at a public forum held by the Stonewall Democratic Club, and I was deeply impressed by Richard Aborn, who was head-and-shoulders over his competitors in both style and substance. Afterwards, I had the chance to meet both Aborn and Vance in person and chat with them as well as Snyder (whom I had met four years ago, when she first ran for DA) briefly. Later in the summer, I met with both Aborn and Vance and had a chance to speak with them at length about my concerns about the Manhattan DA’s office; I had a full hour with Vance and his campaign manager, and with Aborn (whom I met with alone), an hour and-a-half.

In my meeting with him, Cy Vance stuck to his talking points. In contrast, in my meeting with Richard Aborn, he was actively engaged in a real exchange of ideas with me, sharing his ideas for the office and listening intently to mine. Our discussion ranged from ways in which the DA’s office could make the position of liaison to the LGBT community more effective, to the use of gay or trans ‘panic’ defenses in assault cases, to the prosecution of hate crimes under New York’s state hate crimes law — including the nuances and complexities of the use of that statute, which I’m persuaded Richard fully understands.

The in-person meetings confirmed my initial impression from the SDNYC debate that Aborn was far and away the most progressive candidate and the most sensitive to LGBT community concerns as well as the most informed on LGBT issues, especially as relates to criminal justice. On Sept. 2, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) sponsored a public forum on civil rights and civil liberties issues, but Snyder and Vance both reneged on their commitment to participate in the forum — suggesting a lack of commitment to a discussion of civil rights and civil liberties at the very least — and in the end, only Aborn appeared at the forum, engaging in a full-length conversation with the moderator and with the audience about these important issues.

After extensive direct contact with him, I am convinced that Richard Aborn is the true progressive in the race, and his ability to articulate a new vision for the office of Manhattan district attorney marks him as unique among the three candidates running for that position. Last month, when members of my club were considering the race, the choice seemed clear, and the Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC) endorsed Aborn for Manhattan DA. I am happy to add my own personal endorsement of Richard Aborn to that of my club, and I urge anyone eligible to vote in that election to vote for Aborn for Manhattan DA.

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