Out New York gubernatorial candidate and award winning actress Cynthia Nixon is finding no love from prominent LGBTQ advocacy organizations when it comes to endorsements for her nascent campaign.
Both the Stonewall Democrats and the Human Rights Campaign have issued announcements throwing their support for incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo instead of the openly lesbian actress.
In terms of the LGBTQ community, Cuomo believes his record on gay issues shows results not ‘rhetoric.’
“The governor is focused on results. We’ll leave the baseless election-year rhetoric to others,” said Cuomo spokesperson Abbey Collins. “With LGBTQ rights under attack from Trump, New Yorkers know they can count on Governor Cuomo to stand up and fight back.”
The Grammy/Tony/Emmy Award winning actress, however, points to what she says are lapses in the governor’s record including no ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in the state. She also believes she did more heavy-lifting in the fight to bring marriage equality to New York state.
“Gov. Cuomo may have signed the bill, but Cynthia was fighting alongside other activists for the right to marry her now wife, Christine,” Nixon spokesperson Sarah Ford told Buzzfeed. “She understands the needs of the LGBTQ community as a wife and mother of a transgender son on a deeply personal level.”
Aside from the political posturing, though, the endorsements by HRC and Stonewall Dems raises an important question: should LGBTQ advocacy groups focus their support on candidates from the community? Or should experience carry the day?
Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club in New York, criticized the HRC’s endorsement of Cuomo saying, “The Human Rights Campaign has been more interested in their real estate, high salaries, and hobnobbing with middle-of-the-road Democrats — while, in many cases, thumbing their nose at labor and other civil rights groups.”
“Their endorsement is not based on what’s best for the community - it’s about what’s best for their brand,” he added.
But Marty Rouse, HRC’s national field director, told BuzzFeed his organization backed Cuomo because "we stand with elected leaders who stand with us.”
And Stonewall Democrats board member Jeffrey LeFrancois told The New York Times: “I have not agreed with the governor on everything he has done, both from a policy and politics perspective. But at the end of the day, in the state of the country, state of the world right now, to take a gamble on somebody who has had zero experience in a political or governing environment is not a risk that I think is appropriate.”
The most recent polling, from Siena University, shows the Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner trailing 31 points behind Cuomo 29% to his 60%. That same poll showed Cuomo’s favorability at 67% and Nixon’s at 29%.
The primary is scheduled for September 13.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the HRC has been accused of ignoring LGBTQ candidates over straight, cisgender nominees.
One example - earlier this year, this writer interviewed openly lesbian, black, female state Sen. Patricia Spearman prior to the state primary for the 4th Congressional District of Nevada.
Even with years in the state legislature, having a BA in political science, a Doctor of Business Administration degree, a Masters in Divinity and being a 29 year veteran of the U.S. Army where she achieved the rank of Lt. Colonel, she says the Human Rights Campaign never called her to even inquire about how they could help her campaign.
Instead, the HRC backed former congressman Steven Horsford, a straight, cisgender male, who won the Democratic nomination.
Some political folks have chimed in on the subject saying the Trump administration is an example of what can happen when ‘celebrities’ with no prior experience in public service take office.
What do you think, readers?
Should our advocacy groups focus on backing candidates from the community who step up? Or should experience count more?