Remembering Tom Cuite

The re-emergence this week of the obscure, late former City Council Majority Leader Tom Cuite may be instructive for politicians balancing difficult gay rights positions with their legacies.

Cuite probably didn’t think he’d be remembered three decades later for opposing a gay rights bill. But it turns out that it’s the only thing he’s remembered for, here, here, and here, and indirectly in a walled-off Joyce Purnick column. About half the “Tom Cuite” hits on Google focus on the bill.

It’s a case study in being on the historically “wrong” side of a civil rights issue. And while impossible to predict, it’s not inconceivable that, say, Chuck Schumer’s vote for the Defense of Marriage Act will be one of very few things people know about him in 50 years.

Correction: Cuite wasn’t the elected council president, the equivalent of public advocate. He was the legislative leader.

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