downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 53 | May 18 -24, 2007

Talking Points

For Rudy, gay is a drag

By Andy Humm

Rudy Giuliani is continuing an emerging pattern of abandoning his previous support for gay rights, recently attacking New Hampshire for enacting a civil union law for same-sex couples because it “goes too far” and is “the equivalent of marriage.”

That statement from the Republican presidential hopeful follows his retreat earlier this year on gays in the military on the grounds that “we are at war” and should not change the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that he had criticized.

Giuliani voiced support for civil unions as recently as 2004 on Fox News and signed a domestic partners bill as mayor of New York City in 1998. He supported that legislation in 1997 in exchange for the neutrality of the Empire State Pride Agenda in his re-election bid against Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, a leading L.G.B.T. rights advocate.

In an October 1997 letter to the Pride Agenda, Giuliani pledged “to determine how the City of New York can extend to registered domestic partners all rights that the city currently affords to married persons,” the very position he is chastising the New Hampshire Legislature for.

Dick Dadey, then head of Pride Agenda, recalled “he made a pledge to go as far as he could go under the law.”

Giuliani told Mike Signorile on Sirius Radio in 2003 that he not only signed the 1998 domestic partners law, “but then we expanded it to include a lot of other benefits.”

Former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, who presided over passage of the domestic partners law, said that Giuliani “was never averse to giving equal rights to gays. Our meetings were always very productive.”

The Giuliani presidential campaign’s press office did not return a call asking what rights would have to be denied gay couples to satisfy him now. In a statement to the New York Sun, which broke the story a few weeks ago, the campaign said he “believes marriage is between one man and one woman,” despite the fact that he is on his third woman. The statement also said, “Domestic partnerships are the appropriate way to ensure that people are treated fairly,” and that the New Hampshire law “states same-sex civil unions are the equivalent of marriage and recognizes same-sex unions from outside states. That goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it.”

Tony Fabrizio, a Republican pollster, told the Sun, “Why would you want to take a position where you are splitting hairs, when you have consistently been so on the record as for civil unions? You can’t turn around at the 11th hour and say this comes a little too close to marriage and then not support it.”

Despite the mainstream media’s habitual reference to Giuliani as a “pro-gay rights Republican” and his public cross-dressing at benefits and on “Saturday Night Live,” he has a decidedly mixed record on L.G.B.T. issues. In his first run for mayor in 1989, he told a gay audience that he wasn’t sure if he supported the city’s gay rights law that had passed in 1986. He also condemned Mayor David Dinkins for settling a lawsuit granting domestic partner benefits to city employees in 1993 on the eve of their re-match, which Giuliani won.

Giuliani has marched numerous times in the annual L.G.B.T. Pride Parade, but also defies a boycott of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade over the exclusion of a gay Irish contingent, though he is in the company of fellow presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton on that score.

In 1997, Giuliani tried to pass a watered-down codification of domestic partner rights sponsored by gay conservative City Councilmember Antonio Pagan, but that measure was vigorously opposed by then Councilmember Tom Duane, the sponsor of a comprehensive domestic partners bill. Pagan’s bill was not passed.

In early 1998, however, Duane’s bill was again by-passed in favor of a bill engineered by Giuliani and the Pride Agenda to codify domestic partner rights. The authors of the Giuliani bill went through the city code and gave domestic partners every right given to spouses, but excluded any requirement for recognizing gay and lesbian couples in collective bargaining agreements and would not articulate the sweeping, though simple statement that any right a spouse receives a domestic partner is also entitled to.

That lapse in making the law truly comprehensive was not corrected until this year with legislation pushed by lesbian Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Giuliani opposed any requirement that companies with city contracts provide domestic partner benefits on par with the spousal rights they confer, a Quinn bill that the Council passed in 2004 only to be vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Council overrode that veto, but failed at New York’s highest court in its effort to force the mayor to implement the contractor law.

When Donna Hanover, in a bitter divorce fight with Giuliani, won the right to remain in Gracie Mansion, the mayor famously lived with gay couple Howard Koeppel and Mark Hsiao. In 2001, Koeppel told the Advocate, “If they pass a law that marriage would become legal between same-sex couples, I would be the first in line. And if Rudy were still mayor, I know he’d be performing the civil ceremony for me.”

Giuliani’s campaign Web site is short on issue statements, but one of them condemns same-sex marriage.


Andy Humm is a reporter for Gay City News, a sister publication of Downtown Express.





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