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Koch and Dinkins for Marriage Equality

Koch and Dinkins for Marriage Equality

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Former New York City mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins lend their voices to the Human Rights Campaign's marriage equality video series.

The one-time Democratic rivals each speak in 30-second spots, which premiered Thursday evening on the local political program Inside City Hall on NY1.

"When I was mayor, I used to ask the question, 'How'm I doing?'" says Koch. "Right now, our state is not doing so well when it comes to fairness."

Dinkins, who defeated the third-term Koch in the 1989 primary, says, "I know that we are a diverse people who believe in fairness and equality."

Both octogenarians remain popular figures, and their testimonials hold the potential to reach important constituencies in the marriage equality campaign. Dinkins was the first and remains the only African-American mayor of New York City, and Koch is known for his willingness to cross party lines and support Republican candidates for office. In 2009, not a single GOP senator voted for the marriage equality bill, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants lawmakers to pass this session.

During their tenures, Koch and Dinkins made advances for gay rights, although Koch receives stinging criticism over his handling of the AIDS crisis. A lifelong bachelor, he has angered some activists by avoiding the question of his sexual orientation.

Two years ago, Koch told The New York Times, "I do not want to add to the acceptability of asking every candidate, 'Are you straight or gay or lesbian?' and make it a legitimate question, so I don't submit to that question. I don't care if people think I'm gay because I don't answer it. I'm flattered that at 84 people are interested in my sex life -- and, it's quite limited."

The New Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign, which has appeared online and on the city's Taxi TV, features prominent New Yorkers to move viewers to lobby their state lawmakers. Other videos in the New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign so far have included Barbara Bush, daughter of former president George W. Bush, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Joan Rivers, Whoopi Goldberg, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Russell Simmons, Julianne Moore, Ethan and Ryan Hawke, Moby, Fran Drescher, Mark and Sunrise Ruffalo, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, Kenneth Cole, John Slattery, and Daphne Rubin-Vega.

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