A day after Freddy Ferrer was cheered as he blasted Mayor Bloomberg’s gay marriage stance at an annual dinner for the Empire State Pride Agenda, the organization’s head said Friday he was “fed up” with politicians who “say they’re with us” but turn the other way when the pressure is on.
Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of Empire Pride, said the gay lobbying group—in determining who, if anyone, to endorse—wants a Mayor “who will push the envelope and do every single thing he can to give equal status to every single person.”
Asked whether he thought Bloomberg was indeed doing that, Van Capelle said: “We need to support elected officials who will not convince us to accept half-a-loaf.”
But half-a-loaf is what critics say Bloomberg is providing. He has made important strides on behalf of the gay rights (including Thursday’s decision to require companies doing business with the city to disclose whether they offer domestic-partner benefits to employees), but he has been criticized for flip-flopping on gay marriage—saying he personally supports it, but appealing the February court ruling that would have legalized it.
“You can’t run by saying you’re for (gay marriage) and then veto the legislation,” Ferrer told a group of more than 1,000 at Thursday’s Empire Pride event, the 15th annual dinner for the state’s largest civil rights organization. Mayor Bloomberg also appeared at the event, but only briefly, shaking hands with attendees and posing for photos before making his way through the crowd toward the exit. He did not speak publicly or answer questions from reporters.
Van Capelle said he thinks Ferrer, in speaking at the event, “understood” that New York’s LGBT community thinks it’s “outrageous” that their tax dollars are being spent on litigation that is working to outlaw gay marriage. “Our request of the mayor,” Van Capelle said, “is that he drops the lawsuit, and that he begins issuing marriage licenses immediately.”
Ferrer has vowed to do that, and in recent days, he has received endorsements from a number of elected officials and gay advocacy groups, including Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Out POC (People of Color) PAC, and the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. On Tuesday, a coalition of seven gay political groups sent a letter to Empire Pride urging the organization to “immediately endorse” Ferrer.
Van Capelle said he expects the organization to make a decision about its endorsement in the next weeks, emphasizing that “we will work with whoever is elected.”
“At the end of the day,” he said, “we’re about ending discrimination.”