Gay Congressional Winner Makes History in New York

Sean Patrick Maloney defeated incumbent Nan Hayworth in one of the most closely watched Congressional races in the country to become the first openly candidate elected to Congress from the state.

BY Julie Bolcer

November 07 2012 2:06 AM ET UPDATED: January 07 2014 4:01 PM ET

Pictured: The race highlighted the question whether Nan Hayworth could make inroads with the likes of Republican leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

 

Maloney brought the more complete LGBT record, but boosters for Hayworth pointed to her membership in the LGBT Equality Caucus, her support for the Employment Non-discrimination Act, four votes against amendments to affirm DOMA, and her lead sponsorship of the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, which would equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners or other non-spouse, non-dependent beneficiaries. Her supporters saw the potential to build bridges with the House Republicans needed to advance legislation.

“Sean Maloney is a credible candidate and has worked hard to advance the fight for equal rights, but Nan Hayworth is by far the best choice for Hudson Valley voters,” said Jeff Cook, senior advisor to American Unity PAC and resident of the district, prior to the vote. “Nan has stood up to fight against all four mean-spirited amendments aimed at denying same-sex couples federal recognition, is pushing to eliminate the tax penalty on domestic partnership benefits and end discrimination in the workplace and is one of three Republicans to join the Equality Caucus.  She’s a thoughtful consensus-builder who helped found the Common Ground Caucus.  And most important to average voters, she understands that out-of-control spending is placing our country’s future at risk and that Hudson Valley families are already over-taxed. American Unity PAC is proud to stand by Nan Hayworth.”

Support for DOMA repeal would seem like a natural step for Hayworth, who represents a state with a marriage equality law. New York is also home to one of the DOMA challenges upheld by a federal appeals court last month and currently pending a decision on review by the Supreme Court. However, the congresswoman has not expressed support for repeal, although she has indicated that she believes the New York state law is a settled matter. The Conservative Party of New York State, which backed Hayworth this year and in 2010, has vowed to deny its influential endorsement to candidates who endorse marriage equality.

Maloney said Hayworth’s failure to support DOMA repeal reinforced the already striking distinctions between them. He added that her campaign manager, Karl Brabenec, resigned his role as a marriage officiant last year rather than perform same-sex marriages.

“The bottom line is, on the most important issue of our time, marriage equality, she will not state a position on DOMA because she does not support marriage equality,” he said.

The Hayworth campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

New York also holds importance as the state where a Republican-led senate first passed a marriage equality bill. Advocates planned to send the message that pro-equality Republicans can survive, but Maloney dismissed any comparisons between Hayworth and the state lawmakers up for re-election Tuesday.

“They took a real chance with their careers. This is not that,” he said. “She has never taken a courageous vote or put herself on the line for the gay community. Period.”

Maloney said the choice could not be any clearer, on LGBT issues or otherwise.

“I think it’s borderline offensive to those of us who have fought for years on these issues, that joining a caucus or sending a letter or being a little less bad than the most hostile Republican Congress in our lifetime is considered some sort of achievement,” he said. “Do not count me among those who get excited about the things that this Republican Congress has done.” 

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