Saturday, November 22, 2008

Politics: Bronx borough prez Carrion for HUD head? Vet this first!

Let's say I have never been a fan of Latin American caudillo politics even when local Latino politicians seek to recreate them here in the United States (see "Dizzying Bronx Family Tales Spawn Unlikely Alliances" from the City Room blog at The New York Times).

So while I am glad that New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is emerging as a likely candidate for Commerce Secretary in the Obama government, I am less than thrilled to hear that current Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. is being considered as the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Yes: Carrion, who in the past has been an associate pastor at a Bronx church, has been less homophobic than his Pentecostal preacher buddy (and State Senator) Ruben Diaz, Sr. - but he certainly has not taken a strong pro-LGBT stand and has tried to keep his involvement in LGBT issues on the down low.

In 2004, under his watch, his office allowed the largest ever anti-gay marriage rally in New York City (see photo above, more here) - and refused inquiries as to his office's involvement in allowing permits for the politically-biased demonstration (a "No to Homosexual Marriages, Yes to President George Bush's Amendment" banner was allowed to hang on the facade of the Bronx Court).

Grass roots LGBT orgs have also criticized his appearances (and lack of support) for Bronx pride events in 2006 and 2007.

I certainly don't want to be unfair or harsh to Mr. Carrion. In a great 2005 interview in Latino Journal he is asked about the brutal beating of a gay teenager and he responded as follows:
These tragic incidences demonstrate that we've lost a grip on sort of a moral barometer. Some people who talk about moral issues, will banish the gay community and the lesbian and transgender community as being immoral, which creates the environment that says, 'you can go out and beat up on these people because they are immoral.' What I've done with the clergy in the Bronx is to flip it on its head, because I say that the most tolerant community has to be the religious community. The clergy has a social responsibility to help us govern a society that is tolerant, accepting and embracing of diversity
I just wish he was on the record as to that huge anti-marriage rally in the Bronx, his office's lack of support for gay pride events in the borough and his views on marriage rights for same-sex couples in New York.


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