Christine Quinn lost in dramatic fashion in yesterday's New York City Democratic primary. She is an out lesbian, with a record of accomplishment. By virtue of her position as City Council Speaker, sometimes those accomplishments involveed working with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who was almost universally disliked among Democratic primary voters in the City (though certainly not disliked by all Democrats, in general). Ms. Quinn would have been the first woman and first member of the LGBT community to run NYC. She had also been the front runner for 11 of the 12 months preceding the election. Unfortunately, only the last day matters.
How did this happen?
The evidence suggests that this election represents the best and worst of the political side of the gay community. First, the worst. Our collective liberalism can, at times, be self-defeating: the liberal purity coming from the mouths of anti-Quinn LGBTs reminded me of the conservative purity of the Tea Party. Yesterday, we "ate our own," some are saying.
But, did we?
Now, the best. Ms. Quinn would have been a great Democratic nominee and a great mayor. But yesterday's election proved that being a woman or being gay is not enough for voters to gloss over certain policy and personality deficits they have with a candidate. And that's a sign of remarkable progress.
In a world where the LGBT community is under attack, hated, victimized and alone, we have to look to our own. In that case, when one candidate wants to suppress us and the other one is us, identity matters. When you're given a choice between a free trip to Mykonos and a two-night stay in a Moscow prison, you choose Mykonos. Plus, the symbolic value for women and gays of having Ms. Quinn helm this city would have been unmistakable and enormous. But the symbolism was not enough. When the choice is between Maui, Hawaii and Bali, Indonesia, the decision is tougher. When the choice is between a 100-percent pro-LGBT equality candidate and a 100-percent pro-LGBT equality who actually happens to be gay, other things -- their policies on stop-and-frisk, their personalities, their campaign tactics, their plans to raise (or lower) taxes -- become more important.
That's what happened yesterday. The newly minted Democratic nominee for NYC Mayor, Bill De Blasio, is an amiable, pro-equality (and very tall!) man who will be an ally to the LGBT and HIV-positive communities in New York. Ms. Quinn could not capitalize on her identity because, in 2013 in New York City, identity doesn't matter. She needed to do more to prove to voters that she was the best candidate, not just the one that looked like them.
As a community, we have arrived. Ms. Quinn's campaign missed the boat.
CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...