Thursday, May 01, 2008

Homophobic campaign literature emerges in NYC council race

If you think the presidential race is getting nasty, just take a look at a local election taking place in Queens.

Vying to replace one of the few Republicans holding citywide office, three Republicans and three Democrats are duking it out in a special City Council election being held on June 3rd (Republican Dennis Gallagher, who had held the seat,
stepped down as part of a plea deal stemming from a sexual assault).

The leading candidates in the race are Anthony Como who got the backing of the Queens County GOP and Elizabeth Crowley, who got the backing of the Queens Democratic Party (she also happens to be a cousin of Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley who also acts as the party's chair).

Also in the running is Charles Ober, who happens to be an openly gay man and is someone I have known for more than a decade. Yesterday, Ober denounced a batch of anonymous and homophobic letters mailed last week using vile language to warn local residents against voting for him.

Excerpts highlighted by the ABC7 report above include the following pearls of wisdom:
  • Queers have no place in our life. Get out and stay out. Our children do not have to see this garbage.
  • We already have too many faggots trying to change the laws. We don’t need more queers here.
  • I now have to worry that a pedophile is going to be living here.
  • He is not going to represent me. No faggot is going to represent me.
  • That is why God gave them AIDS. Die and rot in hell. He looks like he has AIDS and he probably does.
Today's Daily News also pulled this quote: "Our kids will be exposed to faggots holding hands, kissing and running up Myrtle Ave. in a dress."

Surprisingly, Ober was joined by one of his rivals, Republican Thomas Ognibene, who received one of the letters and offered Ober his support against this type of politics.

"This is one of the most horrendous pieces of literature I have ever received and, of course it's anonymous, because that's they way cowards do business," he tells ABC.

What does the Queens Democratic Party have to say? Here's their Executive Secretary, Michael Reich to the Daily News: "It looks like they manufactured an issue and tried to get press on it."

In fact, the News says that multiple Democratic insiders (read: the Queens Democratic old guard) also expressed doubts about the letter and said that it might be a hoax perpetrated by Ober and Ognibene.

On the Daily News political blog, The Daily Politics, Ober doesn't say if he suspects anyone in particular of sending the letters but he drew parallels to the fact that the Queens Democratic Party had not endorsed him.

Ober has received the endorsement of the city's largest LGBT Democratic club, Stonewall Democrats. Ms. Crowley did not even show up at the endorsement meeting.

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