Gay Anger Meets N.Y. Senate Leader
BY Julie Bolcer
August 08 2010 1:20 PM ET
Sen. Huntley. Last year, according to The New York Times, the
African-American lawmaker told the poet Maya Angelou that she would not
vote for the marriage equality bill, “If they gave me a million dollars,
tax free.” New filings from the state board of elections show that
Huntley has received almost $20,000 in contributions from Sampson’s
reelection committee and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.
When confronted about the generous support, Sampson hinted that Huntley could change.
evolution,” he said. “Just like myself. I was not in support of this
issue, but I evolved to the point where I’m in support of this issue.
And it does take time, and yet it’s a dialogue.”
Whispers of a
Huntley turnaround fueled recent rumors that Sampson had pressured the
Human Rights Campaign and the Empire State Pride Agenda not to endorse
her pro-equality challenger, Lynn Nunes, although he denied the charge when
asked Saturday. The groups endorsed Nunes last week, after already endorsing
Charlie Ramos, who is challenging Diaz.
Pressed directly on
whether he believed he could change the minds of Huntley and Diaz,
Sampson said, “I’m going to work as hard as I can. I can only try.”
Huntley can be persuaded or not, almost no one expects a conversion for
Diaz, a Pentecostal minister and outspoken gay rights opponent who
demonstrated his ability to wreak political havoc last summer when he
joined a renegade trio that paralyzed the senate for a month. Sampson
will cohost a fundraiser for him this Thursday, and gay activists have
promised to protest the event.
But not everyone felt outrage toward Sampson, who found at least one sympathizer in the audience.
don’t like it, but I comprehend it,” said Marc Levine, a Stonewall
board member and Sampson ally who organized the meeting. “I don’t think
anybody’s going to be perfect. I very much believe John wants to work
with us and make it happen.”