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Tim Gunn Denounces Homophobic Drivers, Carriage Trade in Letter to NYC Mayor De Blasio: VIDEO

Biyikoglu

Towleroad has obtained a letter sent by Project Runway fashion guru and animal rights activist Tim Gunn to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to crack down on hate speech by NYC carriage drivers and citing a May 23 incident captured on video in which a driver called a passerby concerned about horse welfare a "faggot" several times. Gunn notes that it's not the first time a driver has been recorded using homophobic behavior. You can watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

GunnGunn uses the letter to also urge de Blasio to get the horses off the streets.

The letter below was also copied to the City Council's gay caucus and also references a July 2012 incident in which one of the drivers verbally assaulted a group of women leafleting near the carriages, calling them a "f--king dyke convention":

The Honorable Bill de Blasio Mayor of New York City

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I'm among the 30,000 New York City PETA members who applaud your plan to retire the carriage horses. However, as we await a City Council bill, I urge you to address the relentless, hateful bigotry that's thriving in the city's tiny horse-drawn carriage trade. Carriage drivers have been filmed spewing all kinds of racist, sexist, and homophobic taunts at caring tourists and local citizens who dare to express concern for the 200 horses who are forced to lug carriages on our city's dangerous streets.

As NYC Pride approaches, I ask you to watch this video, taken just last month, showing the latest anti-gay tirade from a carriage driver. It happened on May 23, when driver Omer Biyikoglu called a concerned passerby a "faggot," among other antagonistic slurs, when questioned about whether it was legal to tie his horse to a light post in the midst of midtown traffic. Instead of answering the question, the smirking driver declared, "I don't f-ck guys," and walked away.

This isn't the first time such a disgraceful exchange has taken place on our streets. During 2012 Pride, another carriage driver called a concerned, elderly, mixed-race lesbian couple "ni**er" and "dyke." (You can view the video footage here.) And it's not just the drivers: Stable owner Frank Rodden was caught on tape calling a Latina woman a "whore" in Spanish and joking to his cronies—in front of the public—that she "probably has six or seven kids." The woman had simply asked if his horse was OK.

Mayor de Blasio, it would be unacceptable for any worker representing the city to taunt the public with hate speech—but these individuals are on the frontlines of the city's hospitality industry! Are these the type of people we want greeting families and tourists from around the world? I'm proud to live in Manhattan, it can be a haven of tolerance, but the carriage drivers are warping it into a hotbed of hate. Bullies such as the drivers in these videos disregard not only the suffering of animals but also the basic rights of New Yorkers.

You have spoken so lucidly on this issue since before your election, but since you took office, there have been accidents causing continued animal suffering and threatening public safety. One driver falsified department of health records in order to force an old asthmatic horse to work, and another was arrested for making a horse pound the pavement despite a painful hoof infection. As the steamy summer months set in, when can we expect you to get these abused horses off the streets?

I eagerly await your reply.

Kind regards, Tim Gunn

Watch the clip of the carriage driver using homophobic slurs, AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents workers in the horse carriage industry, released a statement in response to the video:

“The comments made by a carriage driver in the video circulated by PETA today are insensitive and wrong. They do not represent the views of the people who work in the industry.

“The Teamsters celebrate the diversity of our union and of our city. We are proud that many of our members are part of the LGBTQ community, including carriage drivers. The union is there to fight discrimination at work and in society.

“The Teamsters do not tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic language from members. We also will not tolerate the continued harassment from protesters. Carriage drivers work in public and have been subject to a relentless barrage of harassment from protesters at their workplace. And despite these constant provocations, inappropriate responses are rare.”

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Coalition: De Blasio Must Not Allow Uniformed Officers in Explicitly 'Anti-Gay' St. Patrick's Day Parade

A huge coalition of LGBTQ organizations and allies are continuing to pressure NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio to stop allowing uniformed police and fire officers to march in the "explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory" NYC St. Patrick's Day parade, saying that De Blasio's solution — that he would not march but they could — is not satisfactory.

DeblasioThe group responded to De Blasio yesterday with another letter:

Yesterday a broad-based community letter called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to direct NYPD and FDNY Commissioners to stop sending uniformed officers to the nation's largest anti-LGBTQ event—the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. In response, the Mayor has ducked and punted, saying only that he won't march himself. This isn't much to be celebrated: no truly progressive politician has marched since the parade banned the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization from marching with its banner in 1991, and Mayor Dinkins stood alongside ILGO only to be pelted with beer cans.

The parade is explicitly anti-gay and discriminatory. Because the NYC Human Rights Commission said it violated the City's human rights law in 1992, parade organizers sought deliberately to define it as a private and religious event in order to continue to exclude LGBTQ people. Indeed, John Dunleavy, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman, infamously compared LGBTQ marchers to the KKK being allowed to march in an African-American parade in Harlem.

Police and firefighters march by the thousands, making up most of the parade. (Did you think it was a celebration of Irish pride? That’s so 1992.) Their uniforms clearly convey that the City endorses the march. The Mayor's cavalier dismissal of the City's human rights law today compounds that effect. We get it: we LGBTQ people don't matter.

When NYPD and the FDNY wear their official work uniforms and march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, they diminish their sworn respect for the laws of this great city and violate the spirit of the city’s human rights law. Employers make rules about uniforms and that’s the issue in dispute – the wearing of official uniforms which conveys to the world that this parade’s bigotry is endorsed by our city government. But the law protects us, and we will insist that the Mayor uphold it. We are told that we can march if we don’t identify ourselves in any way. If that is the way we are to be treated, then City personnel should march as individuals with their counties but not in City uniforms. While we protest the rising homophobia in Russia, Nigeria and elsewhere around the world, we seek to end homophobic discrimination here at home as well. The St. Pat’s Parade has a right to its anti-gay march under the constitution. But the City and all supporters of human rights must do everything we can to isolate it.

The full list of LGBTQ groups and allies signing the letter can be found HERE.


NYC Mayor Won't March in St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Gay Exclusion; Says Workers Can

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio says he'll continue a personal boycott of the St. Patrick's Day parade because of its "exclusion of some individuals in the city," Politicker reports:

DeblasioSaid De Blasio:

“No I am not planning on marching in the parade, I haven’t in the past in my capacity as a public official,” he added. “I will be participating in a number of other events to honor the Irish heritage of this city … But I simply disagree with the organizer of that parade in their exclusion of some individuals in the city.”

The mayor says, however, that he won't stop uniformed city workers from doing so:

“I believe that uniformed city workers have a right to participate if they choose to. And I respect that right."

The parade bars the participation of gay groups.

Gay City News had called on the mayor to ban uniformed workers from marching in an open letter signed by many LGBT rights organizations

The presence of uniformed police and firefighters in such a procession sends a clear signal to LGBTQ New Yorkers that these personnel, who are charged with serving and protecting all New Yorkers, do not respect the lives or safety of LGBT people. It confirms the practice of the NYPD and FDNY at times of targeting certain communities for discrimination. What’s more, it betrays the current work of high level government agencies and human rights advocates working internationally against the current wave of extreme anti-LGBTQ legislation and discriminatory practices occurring in countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, and Russia.

Indeed, legal precedent on this matter, in Pappas v. Giuliani, 290 F.3d 143 (2d Cir. 2002), says: “The effectiveness of a city’s police department depends importantly on the respect and trust of the community and on the perception in the community that it enforces the law fairly, even-handedly, and without bias. If the police department treats a segment of the population of any race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual preference, etc., with contempt, so that the particular minority comes to regard the police as oppressor rather than protector, respect for law enforcement is eroded and the ability of the police to do its work in that community is impaired.”


NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio Shovels Out the Sidewalk: VIDEO

Deblasio

NYC's 109th Mayor Bill De Blasio reacts to last night's snowstorm from his home in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Bill De Blasio Elected Mayor of NYC, and More Election Results — UPDATED

DeblasioBill De Blasio won a landslide election to become NYC's 109th mayor and its first Democratic mayor in a generation:

His overwhelming victory, stretching from the working-class precincts of central Brooklyn to the suburban streets of northwest Queens, amounted to a forceful rejection of the hard-nosed, business-minded style of governance that reigned at City Hall for the past two decades and a sharp leftward turn for the nation’s largest metropolis.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat who is the city’s public advocate, defeated his Republican opponent, Joseph J. Lhota, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by a wide margin.

Exit polls conducted by Edison Research suggested that the sweep of his victory cut across all of New York’s traditional divides. He won support from voters regardless of race, gender, age, education, religion or income, according to the exit poll.

In other election results:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie easily won reelection against Democratic Senator Barbara Buono.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has beaten Virginia wingnut Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor's race. Homophobe pastor E.W. Jackson has lost the race for Lieutenant Governor in Virginia.

Annise Parker has won reelection as mayor of Houston, Texas.

Washington State Senator is poised to defeat Ed McGinn to become Seattle's first openly gay mayor.

Royal Oak, Michigan has upheld an LGBT-inclusive human rights ordinance.

 

And here are the results for candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund.

If there are races around the country that have been called that Towleroad readers might be interested in, please feel free to chime in in the comments.


Bill De Blasio Has 50-Point Lead in NYC Mayor's Race, Poll Shows: VIDEO

A new Quinnipiac poll on the New York City mayor's race shows Democrat Bill de Blasio with a50-point lead over Republican Joe Lhota, the NYT reports:

MayorMr. de Blasio, a Democrat, received the support of 71 percent of likely voters, compared with 21 percent for Mr. Lhota, the poll found. The Independence Party candidate, Adolfo Carrión Jr., received 2 percent.

The poll, conducted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1, showed Mr. de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, with a comfortable lead among white voters and an enormous one among blacks and Hispanics. Only 5 percent of likely voters remained undecided, and less than a tenth of those who favored Mr. de Blasio said there was a good chance they would change whom they supported.

Both De Blasio and Lhota have released the first campaign ads.

Watch them, AFTER THE JUMP...

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