History Lesson

The Politicker turned up at a mayoral forum at NYU last night in full force (2.5 of us attended), along with several reporters from more reputable publications, to hear Freddy answer an ancient grudge some in the gay community hold against him.

After an introduction from Melissa Sklarz that we can’t resist reprinting: “Freddy Ferrer is a graduate of NYU. We should tell him that the current crop is so nervous and stressful that all of our windows are locked,” Freddy spoke and took his first question from veteran activist Allen Roskoff.

“You were one of the people who voted to weaken the gay rights bill on March 6, 1986,” said Roskoff, who appeared to have brought the original documents. He criticized Ferrer for not sponsoring the original bill, though he voted for it, and quoted Ruth Messinger as saying at the time that the amended bill “would make our community into second-class citizens” by reducing certain housing protections.

Freddy came prepared, and his answer was received with more applause than anything else at the sparsely-attended event. The bill in question, he said, was really a “side agreement” necessary for the passage of an earlier bill that protected gay rights.

“Just so we know what this question is all about, it concerns the side agreement to that landmark anti-discrimination law, a law that I helped champion 19 years ago. Now that amendment was part of helping to keep together a fragile coalition that we needed to make that law the law. I want to call your attention — since you all have great memories — [to] an editorial in the New York Times, in May 3, 1986 that said exactly that. Now, writing about the amendment, the Times said, and I will quote, ‘a fragile coalition for passage was thus preserved.’

“Choices aren’t always perfect, but I’m proud to have played a role not only in that coalition, but in preserving that coalition.”