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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 15, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 46
Michael Bloomberg: friend or foe?
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Michael Bloomberg: friend or foe?

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

What could the LGBT community expect from Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, if he finally decides to take the plunge and run for the Democratic presidential nomination in earnest?

While all the leading Democratic candidates have already released detailed plans designed to attract LGBT voters, Bloomberg hasn't even decided if he's in or out of the race. All he can be judged on is his record - and that is spotty.

"Like so many things in life, where you stand on Bloomberg's contribution to the LGBT movement depends on where you sit," reporter Kerry Eleveld wrote in The Advocate in 2013.

"Those who championed the 2011 marriage equality push consider him a hero for helping persuade state Senate Republicans to listen to their better angels. Those who work on issues of poverty and homelessness, which disproportionately affect LGBT youth, dismiss him as an impervious economic elitist who has largely turned a blind eye to New York's record homeless population and an inadequate shelter system."

When Bloomberg was mayor of New York, in one of his first acts as mayor, he signed a 2002 Transgender civil rights bill into law.

On the other hand, Bloomberg challenged a 2005 court ruling that the city could not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples while offering them to opposite-sex partners. His appeal was successful, delaying marriage equality until the state took action in 2011.

Nevertheless, Bloomberg actively lobbied New York State lawmakers - especially Republicans - to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011.

He also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to successful marriage equality campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State.

However, Trans activists criticized Bloomberg for failing to follow through on many issues critical to Trans people, such as making it easier to change gender makers on birth certificates. That happened under his successor, Bill de Blasio.

Other activists said that the transformation of Times Square from an urban, queer-friendly space into a sanitized, tourist-friendly showcase drove Trans sex workers to more dangerous areas.

Bloomberg also seems to have a particular blind spot when it comes to LGBT people of color.

Many activists have criticized the Bloomberg administration's messaging on HIV, saying it failed to connect with the people most at risk, young Gay and Bi men of color.

In a Washington Post column published November 11, Gay African-American journalist Jonathan Capehart said Bloomberg has "all the qualities that President Trump lacks: a moral core, deeply held convictions, a belief in the power of government to address if not fix problems, respect for the rule of law, and reverence for our democratic institutions and the Constitution."

But he added that Bloomberg has no hope of being the Democratic nominee due to his backing of "stop and frisk," in which police officers were allowed to stop people they deemed suspicious and then subjected them to invasive searches.

"Stop and frisk," Capehart wrote, disproportionately targeted Black and Hispanic men, and in 2013 a federal judge "ruled that while the procedure was constitutional, the stops conducted by the NYPD were not."

"If African-Americans are the foundation of the Democratic Party and no candidate will win the nomination without their support," Bloomberg's defense of "stop and frisk" when he was mayor "will make his candidacy a nonstarter for them," Capehart observed.

Tell a friend:

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