Remember the good old days, when all a politician had to do to court the gay vote was march in their silly pride parade? Well Andrew Cuomo, New York’s attorney general and gubernatorial candidate, did just that in Manhattan last month. So how come some of you don’t believe he’s a vehement gay rights advocate?
Because maybe he’s, uh, not. Not only did Cuomo opt not to put much effort behind convincing certain New York state senators to back same-sex marriage, but he’s basically a johnny come lately in all matters queer, relays the Times.
But a review of his record in and out of government, and interviews with dozens of those who have worked with him, reveal a fraught relationship between Mr. Cuomo and gays and lesbians dating to the 1970s, when he entered New York politics.
Over a 30-year career in public life, Mr. Cuomo has been slow to take on gay-rights battles or display leadership on key issues, advocates for gay rights say. His handling of same-sex marriage, they say, is telling: He did not publicly support it until he ran for attorney general in 2006 — eight years after Eliot Spitzer said he favored it and 12 years after Mr. Paterson did so.
As a result, many gay leaders are quietly expressing skepticism about the depth of his commitment, even as they accept, with lockstep resignation, his likely ascent as governor, and try to ingratiate themselves with his political operation.
But he’s a Democrat, so they’ll vote for him anyway.
The most telling part of the article, however, is who is and isn’t speaking on the record. Reporter Micahel Barbaro says “many gay leaders are quietly expressing skepticism about the depth of his commitment, even as they accept, with lockstep resignation, his likely ascent as governor, and try to ingratiate themselves with his political operation.” Surely by “gay leaders” he means folks at Empire State Pride Agenda? Or Fight Back New York? Or HRC’s new Campaign for New York Marriage? Except none of them are quoted in the piece, which means either Barbaro didn’t make the obvious phone calls, or these groups don’t want to publicly take a stance on Cuomo. Which is a disservice to voters.
Only the always-available-to-be-quoted Allen Roskoff and Libby Post, Empire State Pride Agenda’s founding chair (who is now a communications strategist and no longer works for the group, and who received an honor from Andrew Cuomo’s father Gov. Mario Cuomo) are on hand to offer their insights. Virginia M. Apuzzo, a “gay adviser” to Gov. Mario Cuomo, is there with platitudes for the boss’ son and says Andrew is “prepared to be a strong ally.”
UPDATE: ESPA’s communications director Stephanie Berger emails us: “In response to your post on the New York Times’ story on Cuomo today, we wanted to let you know that the Pride Agenda wasn’t consulted for this story. In fact, the Pride Agenda’s experience with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo doesn’t match up with today’s story in the New York Times. On the same day that he announced his candidacy for Governor, Cuomo issued a video statement, shown at our Spring Dinner in Rochester, in which he clearly and directly gave his support for and pledged to work with us to win marriage equality, transgender rights and protections for LGBT students.” So New York Gay Inc. does love him?