Demorcat Governor Cuts Gays out of Policy

Democrat Victors in 2001 Exclude, Ignore Gays While new GOP NYC Mayor Makes Historic Appointment to Senior Post

January 16, 2002 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The 2001 elections had been touted by Democrats as a major victory by gay activists, but as the three top winners of last year's election take office, sharp differences are developing along party lines.

Democratic Governor Mark Warner (VA), who had the enthusiastic backing of gay Democrats in his race against a Republican candidate that Log Cabin Republicans refused to endorse, excluded gays and lesbians from Virginia's non-discrimination policy for state employees in one of his first acts as Governor.

Controversy also surrounded the inauguration of Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey of New Jersey, who himself has yet to mention the word "gay" as governor. In his inaugural speech, McGreevey infuriated civil rights organizations by refusing to take up the issue of racial profiling along the highways of the state, a top issue among African Americans and Latinos in New Jersey. McGreevey's GOP opponent also did not earn the endorsement of Log Cabin Republicans.

In contrast, Mayor Mike Bloomberg (R) of New York City, in one of his first acts as Mayor of the nation's largest city, appointed Verna Eggleston, a black, lesbian Republican, as his Commissioner of the Human Resources Administration. Eggleston will administer the city's social services system, holding a position that is among the most important in the city's executive branch. It was the first appointment of an open lesbian of color to the HRA position in the city's history. Bloomberg was endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans in June 2001.

Eggleston will oversee 10,000 city employees, and administer programs such as AIDS services, welfare-to-work, food stamps, Medicaid, home care for the disabled, and programs to fight domestic violence.

Back in Virginia, gay Democratic activists reacted sharply to Governor Warner's action, accusing him of breaking a campaign promise and calling on him to "clarify his intentions" regarding the executive order. The Virginia Partisans, a gay Democratic group, issued an Action Alert and the National Stonewall Democrats issued a release critical of the move.

The ignoring of gay concerns by both Democratic victors comes on the heels of a December speech by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in Nevada where he said that the "best way" for gay people to advance what he called "the gay agenda" is "to be an active Democrat" and support Democratic candidates. Frank has also said for years that the "most striking difference between the two parties" is on gay issues.

Warner's campaign website had no mention of a promise to protect gays, nor does the word "gay" or "sexual orientation" appear anywhere on his 2001 campaign site or his subsequent transition site. Warner's campaign site, however, did contain a section on "Virginia Values."

In New York, activists hailed Bloomberg's appointment of Eggleston. Ronald Johnson of Gay Men's Health Crisis told LGNY newspaper that "there's no question that Verna knows the HIV epidemic and how it's being played out and the city's contribution to those problems. She'll be a person working at the top who completely gets it."