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04/19/2007


NYC City Council Candidate Corey Johnson Comes Out as HIV-Positive in the NYT

NYC City Council candidate Corey Johnson has come out as HIV-positive in a NYT article which casts Johnson's political pursuits in the footsteps of his predecessor Tom Duane, who was also out, gay, and HIV-positive:

JohnsonMr. Duane famously won the district that covers much of Manhattan’s West Side below 59th Street (currently represented by the mayoral candidate Christine C. Quinn) in 1991, during the height of the city’s AIDS panic, as one of the first openly H.I.V. positive political candidates in the country. Lending his friend his valuable endorsement, Mr. Duane told me he phoned Mr. Johnson not long ago to talk about the campaign, asking him first, “How are we going to handle your H.I.V. status? Have you told your mother?”

Times have changed since then, however, though not completely:

When Mr. Duane joined the Senate in the late ’90s, he said, there were people in Albany who would not shake his hand. He cries talking about a little boy upstate who was denied admission to his community pool because of his illness. “I’m the bearer of many people’s secrets about H.I.V.,” Mr. Duane said.

Mr. Johnson has many friends with H.I.V. who fear telling employers. “There’s still so much stigma and people don’t realize it,” he told me.

And there is still more to be done for those who do not share the advantages of white men living in Chelsea — budget increases for the city’s H.I.V./AIDS Services Administration, for example. Mr. Johnson is eager for a chance to have the fight.

More here...

Note: Johnson is Towleroad's former political director.


Tom Duane, First Out Gay New York State Senator, to Retire

New York State Senator Thomas Duane, the state's first openly gay state senator and a tireless advocate for LGBT rights, is set to announce his retirement Monday, the NYT reports:

DuaneNo, it is not his health. No, he does not have another job lined up. And no, Mr. Duane said cheerfully in an interview, he has not done anything illegal or embarrassing that is about to make news.

Instead, Mr. Duane, 57, said that he had simply tired of ricocheting between the city and Albany, as he has for 14 years — a number he repeated at least a dozen times — and that he was eager to try something new.

“It’s not that Albany isn’t a lovely place, but it’s not home,” he said. “I always knew that I was going to have another chapter in my life, and it’s time for me to start that new chapter.”

Mr. Duane, who was a pivotal figure during the recent battle over same-sex marriage, said that he had only begun to think seriously about retiring a few weeks ago, around the time that he and his longtime partner, Louis Webre, attended the wedding of Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and his former chief of staff, and Kim M. Catullo.

Duane says he has no plans to run for office again.

Who could replace him?

The shortlist could include State Assembly members Deborah J. Glick and Brian Kavanaugh. Other possibilities are Brad Hoylman and Corey Johnson, the chairmen of Community Boards 2 and 4.


NY State Senator Tom Duane to Introduce Marriage Equality Bill, Push for Vote Before June

Marriage Equality will soon be back on New York's burner, the NYDN reports:

Duane Sen. Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan, pictured), the Senate's biggest booster of gay marriage, said he'll introduce legislation "within weeks" to legalize same-sex marriage - and will push for a vote before the end of June. "I think everyone is aware that we have to make the lives of New Yorkers better in every way - economically, as well as to provide equality to New York families," Duane said Monday.

Although a similar bill was soundly defeated in the Senate in 2009, Duane and other supporters believe Gov. Cuomo's support can finally tilt the political landscape. Cuomo, whose favorable rating reached a soaring 70% in this week's Siena poll, called for the legalization of gay marriage in his State of the State address earlier this month.

Yesterday, Cuomo's office announced the hiring of Erik Bottcher, a former liaison to the gay community for NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The newly created cabinet post of special assistant for community affairs, which Bottcher will fill, is seen as a signal of Cuomo's intentions to push marriage equality in the coming months.


Watch: NY State Senator Tom Duane, Others Arrested in Civil Disobedience Over AIDS Housing Bill

Duane

New York State Senator Tom Duane was arrested yesterday in an act of civil disobedience in protest of the veto of an HIV/AIDS funding bill vetoed by Governor David Paterson earlier this year, WNYC reports:

Demo "The bill would insure that poor people living with HIV/ AIDS wouldn't have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. Advocates argue the bill saves money in the long run, by lowering the rate of evictions and homelessness. Governor David Paterson vetoed the bill at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's urging. Both men call it an unfunded mandate that neither the city or state can afford. Advocates say the bill would affect about 10,000 low income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS."

You may recall Duane's powerful, emotional speech on the bill on the Senate floor from July of last year.

Duane and the heads of several AIDS organizations held up traffic for about 10 minutes before their arrest, and are hoping to get Paterson to reverse his veto.

Watch Duane speaking at the protest before his arrest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: NY State Senator Tom Duane, Others Arrested in Civil Disobedience Over AIDS Housing Bill" »


NY Gov Paterson Vetoes Bill Offering Rent Relief to AIDS Patients

In July 2009, I posted a mesmerizing, emotional video of New York State Senator Thomas Duane delivering a 3 am speech in support of a bill preventing people living with HIV or AIDS and receiving public assistance from having to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.

Paterson The bill passed, and made its way through the proper channels to Governor Paterson's desk, where he vetoed it this weekend, saying it was unclear where the money would come from to pay for it.

Said Paterson: 

“This is my most difficult veto. I recognize, sadly, the history of the inadequacy of services government has brought to bear for those with H.I.V./AIDS. I have pledged not to impose unfunded mandates on cash-strapped localities, and to prevent the state from taking on additional financial burdens outside the budget process without an identified funding source.”

State Senator Thomas Duane reacted with anger, releasing this statement:

Tomduane "Governor Paterson’s veto of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) 30% rent cap bill is an incredible tragedy. Thousands of New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS who receive housing assistance from HASA will continue to be forced to live on $11 and change a day because all the rest of their monthly income -- in some cases upwards of 70% -- must go towards paying rent. While people in all of New York's other rental assistance programs have their rents capped at 30% of income, these women and men will continue to worry about how they are going to survive each month instead of focusing on staying well. It is inexcusable that New York would make these people who are ill decide between buying winter gloves or underwear, between buying toilet paper or a Metrocard to get to a doctor's appointment, between buying toothpaste to brush their teeth or laundry detergent to wash their clothes. This veto takes away these HASA clients’ ability to afford fresh fruit and vegetables to maintain their strength and to purchase over-the counter medicine at the drug store when they have a cold. Affording a telephone and electricity is a struggle and buying stamps to send a letter to loved ones is cost prohibitive. Even simply going to a movie or taking the subway to the park to escape the pressures of life for a few hours is impossible. This is an incredible injustice and it is shameful that New York will allow this to continue.

...There was no valid reason to veto this bill. Time and time again I, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and so many other elected officials have proven that this legislation is cost-effective for the City and State. Mayor Bloomberg aggressively lobbied against the legislation claiming it would cost the City of New York $16 million dollars. Yet a cost analysis conducted by Shubert Botein Policy Associates projected a savings of over $19 million from prevented housing evictions. Inexplicably, under extreme pressure from Mayor Bloomberg, the Governor decided to ignore this solid evidence and vetoed the bill. HASA clients: The Governor and the Mayor let you down. Your hopes were raised when both the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation in overwhelming numbers. You traveled to Albany week after week, telling your stories and providing hard data time and time again. “We have lost this chance to right this wrong but you have my pledge to continue the fight."

Watch Duane's amazing floor speech from 2009, AFTER THE JUMP...


New York Governor Paterson Signs Comprehensive Anti-Bullying Bill

New York Governor David Paterson today signed a comprehensive anti-bullying bill called the Dignity for All Students Act.

Paterson The bill, which prohibits harassment "with respect to certain non-exclusive protected classes, including, but not limited to, the student's actual or perceived "race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex," requires schools to:

"Revise their codes of conduct and adopt policies intended to create a school environment free from harassment and discrimination; Adopt guidelines to be used in school training programs to raise awareness and sensitivity of school employees to these issues and to enable them to respond appropriately; and Designate at least one staff member in each school to be trained in non-discriminatory instructional and counseling methods and handling human relations.

Said Paterson in a statement: "Every student has the right to a safe and civil educational environment, but far too often young people are ruthlessly targeted by bullies. Bullying and harassment have disrupted the education of too many young people, and we in government have a responsibility to do our part to create learning environments that help our children prosper. I am proud to sign this bill into law as it will help ensure that students are protected from harassment, discrimination and bullying at school grounds and at school functions."

Added State Senator Thomas Duane, the bill's sponsor: 

Duane "I applaud Governor Paterson for his strong support as he signs The Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) into law. DASA was one of the first bills I introduced in 1999 when I was newly elected to the State Senate. Now, after more than a decade of struggle, and with the Governor's support from the beginning to today, DASA will finally become a reality. Its intention is simple: No child should be terrified to go to school due to bullying and harassment. DASA is unique in that it focuses on education and the prevention of bullying and harassment before they begin rather than punishment after the fact. Further, the new law will include protections for students of transgendered experience -- the first time such provisions will be enshrined in New York State law. DASA will improve the quality of life for all of New York's public school students and will enhance their ability to thrive in a safe and nurturing educational environment."

Added Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, the bill's sponsor in the Assembly: "Too many students are bullied based on real or perceived differences with their classmates. Every student deserves an environment free of harassment and discrimination, an environment that allows every child to reach his or her full potential. For too long, our educational system has been blind to the plight of these students. I am proud that the Assembly led the way on this important issue, and that today, the Dignity for All Students Act is finally signed into law."

The law takes effect on July 1, 2012 — although certain rules and regulations related to implementation may take effect before that.


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