NEW YORK — Three Democrats supportive of LGBT equality will assume control of New York state’s top three offices as a result of Tuesday’s elections.
Andrew Cuomo, the current attorney general, easily defeated his Republican opponent, Carl Paladino, in the heavily publicized race for governor of New York. Paladino’s extreme views and vitriolic, bitter campaigning tactics came under particular scrutiny after he made several anti-gay statements during a speech at an Orthodox Jewish congregation. Governor-elect Cuomo, conversely, has habitually affirmed his support of LGBT rights, marched in NYC’s gay pride parade with his family, and vocally supports marriage equality.
“It’s really exciting. To have a governor who not just supports marriage equality but says he is going to sign a marriage equality bill sends a message to the legislators that they need to get the job done and get it done soon,” said openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn following Paladino’s concession.
In his victory speech, Governor-elect Cuomo made it a point to mention LGBT New Yorkers. “They thought that they could take our diversity and make it a weakness, but they can’t,” Cuomo said to a crowd in Midtown Manhattan. “Yes, we are gay and we are straight, but we are one state because we are New York.”
N.Y. state Sen. Eric Schneiderman defeated the GOP candidate, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, to become the state’s next attorney general. Schneiderman voted in favor of failed legislation that would have granted gay and lesbian New Yorkers the protections of marriage, and has a solid record of supporting LGBT equality.
Democratic incumbent Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli narrowly defeated GOP opponent Harry Wilson and will return for a full term as the state’s chief financial officer. Chelsea Now reports, “Since taking office in 2007, DiNapoli has sent 130 Fortune 1000 corporations letters asking them to articulate a nondiscrimination policy. Three of those companies have since initiated sexual orientation nondiscrimination policies, and seven more have barred both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression bias.”
Despite some disappointing defeats nationally and an uncertain future for the progression of LGBT rights with a Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, New York voters remained largely supportive of candidates with a solid track record of backing LGBT equality. Democratic U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer emerged from their races victorious, as did a host of other pro-LGBT candidates for the state Senate, making New York one of the few places after the midterm elections where LGBT voters can largely heave a collective sigh of relief.