In the race for City Council speaker, rival Melissa Mark-Viverito has accumulated so many supporters that even 1990s heartthrob Lance Bass is on her team.
Mr. Bass’s support–along with more than two dozen LGBT activists–is being rolled out this morning. The list includes Sex and the City star and Bill de Blasio backer Cynthia Nixon, openly LGBT councilmen and Democratic club leaders like Allen Roskoff.
“I am proud to support Melissa for Speaker for the City Council. Melissa has been an effective and consistent advocate for the LGBT community,” Mr. Bass said in a statement. “She has spent her entire career fighting for social and economic justice. I support her whole heartedly and urge other members of the LGBT to do likewise.”
While being involved in as esoteric a governmental battle as the speaker’s race is new for Mr. Bass, the ‘N Sync star has been politically active for years. He endorsed former Speaker Christine Quinn in the mayor’s race and has been involved in a campaign pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the controversial hydrofracking issue.
Ms. Mark-Viverito, who claims to have more than enough votes to win the race for the city’s second most important post, has been rolling out endorsements to try to maintain momentum since before Christmas. The 51 members of the Council are set to cast their ballots this coming Wednesday.
Celebrity endorsements like Mr. Bass’s are unlikely to sway a significant number of votes.
LGBT LEADERS ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR MELISSA MARK-VIVERITO
More Than Two Dozen Elected Officials and Community Activists Note Viverito’s Long History of Standing up for LGBT Rights
NEW YORK- More than two dozen LGBT community activists expressed their support for Melissa Mark-Viverito today citing her long record of advocating for New York’s LGBT community. The leaders included Cynthia Nixon and partner Christine Marinoni, entertainer Lance Bass, Councilmembers, clergy and community activists. The leaders join a growing coalition of City Councilmembers, elected officials, clergy, community groups and labor from all five boroughs who are backing Viverito’s historic candidacy for Speaker.
Cynthia Nixon & Christine Marinoni said, “Melissa has been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and will be an independent and progressive speaker. Whether it’s advocating for paid sick leave or standing up for women’s rights, Melissa will be a strong advocate for all New Yorkers.”
Lance Bass, Entertainer said, “I am proud to support Melissa for Speaker for the City Council. Melissa has been an effective and consistent advocate for the LGBT community. She has spent her entire career fighting for social and economic justice. I support her whole heartedly and urge other members of the LGBT to do likewise.”
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has been a strong advocate for LGBT issues throughout her career, including leading delegations to Puerto Rico to lobby for marriage equality and speak out against hate crimes. She will continue that legacy as City Council Speaker and I am pleased to be supporting such a proud ally as Melissa,” said Councilmember Corey Johnson.
“Throughout my time organizing the LGBT community in NYC, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito has always been a committed and passionate ally. As the first LGBT Council Member from Brooklyn, I know that when Melissa becomes our next Speaker she will fight for more funding for LGBT homeless youth, demand equal rights for Transgender New Yorkers and expand services to all five boroughs,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“On January 8th, we in the LGBT community will have in Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, one of the strongest defenders of our equality and dignity that the City Council has ever known. Melissa is not only right on the issues that matter to us; she has a record of standing up and speaking out when others have stood by in silence,” said Councilmember Richie Torres.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said “Four years ago I travelled to Puerto Rico with Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito to draw attention to the horrific murder of a young gay man. I saw firsthand Melissa’s genuine and unwavering passion for justice for the LGBT community. And since that trip I have continued to be inspired by her fierce and heartfelt belief in marriage equality. For Melissa, dignity and full equality for the LGBT community aren’t just rhetoric – they are central to who she is. Our community still faces many struggles and we need a Speaker who won’t just support LGBT youth and seniors – we need a Speaker who has already demonstrated a desire to LEAD on these issues. I am proud to support our next Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito!”
Councilmember Daniel Dromm said, “I would be most proud and pleased to serve with Melissa Mark-Viverito as the New York City Council Speaker,” said openly gay Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). Melissa is a true progressive and is committed to the issues we care so much about. When it comes to issues concerning the LGBT community, Melissa has my full and complete trust and confidence. Melissa is a true believer in a just society and would move our city forward in a direction that would serve all New Yorkers, especially those who have been locked out. Our City Council could do no better than to have Melissa as our Speaker.”
Allen Roskoff, co-author of nation’s first Gay Rights Bill and President of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club said, “Melissa has always been a forceful advocate for LBGT rights and recognizes our needs. Her decisions will be based on what is best for the community, not on what is best for her. Melissa would be the city’s first progressive woman to serve as Speaker and the first Speaker of color. Melissa will lead the way on economic issues like Paid Sick Leave and Living Wage and create a sane economic development program for the five boroughs. In short, Melissa will be a terrific Council Speaker.
“Melissa is a well-known advocate for the LGBT community. As Speaker, she will bring new ideas and a unique perspective to the leadership of the Council,” said Lynn Schulman, Community and LGBT Activist.
“Councilwoman Mark-Viverito’s record shows that she has been a champion of equal rights for all New Yorkers, and I look forward to her leadership as Speaker,” said Monte Albers de Leon, Attorney, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club Governing Board.
“Melissa has been a champion for our community and we could not do better than having her lead the way for us as Speaker of the City Council. With Melissa in charge we can rest assure that the community’s needs and concerns will be served. Melissa is the added ingredient we need to ensure an effective and progressive agenda for all New Yorkers,” said Seth Weissman, Victory Fund Campaign Board Member.
“New York City is headed in a positive direction, one that I feel will finally recognize and respect the needs of the diverse communities that make up this city. We now have reason to believe that our elected city officials, at every level, will take the concerns of people of color, gays and lesbians, recent immigrants, the poor and working class into consideration as they formulate new public policy. To elect Melissa Mark-Viverito as City Council Speaker would only affirm the correctness of this new direction. She has already demonstrated leadership and a willingness to represent those too often left on the outside. I am confident she will continue to be an outstanding public official,” said Bernard J. Tarver, Artist/Activist.
“As a longtime activist in New York City, I am proud to stand with Melissa Mark-Viverito and look forward to her leadership as the next Speaker of the New York City Council. Melissa understands the LGBT community as well as any ally and has been a wonderful friend of transgender people in the aftermath of the Islan Nettles murder in Harlem. Thank you, Melissa, for your friendship and leadership,” said Melissa Sklarz, Stonewall Democrats of New York City.
“I over 100% support Melissa Mark-Viverito! She has proven herself to be there for the community when they most need her support and has been extremely active in issues impacting both gay and non-gay communities. I applaud her and send her my blessings for the coming year.. Pa’Lante Hermana!” said Rev. Carmen Hernandez.
“Melissa is a very strong leader and has always been an advocate for the LGBT community. She has what it takes to advance our rights and help us achieve full equality” said Liz J. Abzug.
“Melissa Mark-Viverito’s ability to build such a strong coalition so far in advance of the vote for City Council Speaker demonstrates the proven effectiveness of a true leader who is able to work with everyone and build bridges, which is necessary to carry out the duties of the Speaker’s office. Her continuous inclusion of LGBTQ issues across the board — not just when it’s “appropriate” — is fostering dialogue that continues to benefit our LGBTQ communities,”said Peter C. “Equality” Frank, LGBTQ community activist.
“I have seen firsthand how Melissa’s tireless efforts on progressive issues like stop-and-frisk and economic and social equality have distinguished her as a leader in the City Council and in our communities. New York City needs Melissa Mark-Viverito to continue to champion these important causes as the next Speaker of the City Council,” said Justin Carroll, Attorney, Lower East Side Community Member.
“In March of 2012, Melissa Mark-Viverito was one of the first NYC Council Members to sign the Police Reform Organizing Project’s [PROP] petition calling for the end to stop-and-frisk and use of quotas, which have had an adverse impact on people of color in the LGBTQ community. She will make a great NYC Council Speaker,” said Robert Pinter, LGBTQ activist for police reform.
Anabel Evora, Latina Lesbian Community Organizer said, “Melissa Mark-Viverito’s passion, vision, and dedication vibrates in our community – she has stood by us, for us, and with us.”
“I fully support the candidacy of Melissa Mark Viverito for Speaker of the NYC Council. Melissa is tough, independent, and progressive. She has delivered for her constituents and will do a great job as speaker. As a proudly openly gay Latino elected official from The Bronx, we need Melissa’s professional work ethic and her tenacity to fight for our LGBTQ community as well as all of the constituencies of the most vulnerable,”said Kenny Agosto (D), The Bronx.
Charles Bayor, Vice-President, Stonewall Democrats, gay rights activist said, “ I have known Melissa Mark –Viverito since her first election as councilperson. Melissa has been a steadfast voice for progressive ideas, for the workers of New York and for LGBTQ rights. This is the person New York and our community needs to lead the City Council as the Speaker. Melissa brings compassion and expertise to this important position. Melissa will be the first Latina in this position –a very important step in promoting diversity in our society and government.”
Robert E. West, President of Breaking Bread Under the Rainbow said, “Melissa Mark-Viverito has shown her commitment to the LGBT community of New York City not only by her steadfast push for equality against those external forces that have sought to deny our community the benefits, rights and status enjoyed by our heterosexual brothers and sisters, but by her constant support in facilitating dialogue and events that encourage an examination of the intra-community dynamics of our community that seek to address us in the most holistic of manners. In a mark of absolute sincerity, she has done this in the presence AND absence of cameras, always allowing the LGBT community to guide her actions, and always welcoming the community as equals in this fight for justice.”
“City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Vinenito is the best choice to become the next Speaker, she has been a leader in support of LGBT people and she understands clearly that it is one thing to gain legal and civil rights and a whole lot of other work to ensue Justice!” said Ralph Vogel, Executive Director, Staten Island LGBT Community Center.
“Time and again Melissa Mark-Viverito’s positions on issues such as stop and frisk and affordable housing demonstrate the same progressive beliefs in the rights of all New Yorkers including those of us in the LGBTQ community. I look forward to a New York City with Melissa in the role Speaker of the City Council,” said Stephen A. Williams, Community Activist.
“I think that Melissa is a true progressive and would make a great speaker of the NYC Council. She has been and I am sure that she always with be there for the LGBT community. I support Melissa with great pride,” said Tom Smith, Longtime Community Activist.
“At a time when hate crimes and misunderstanding of the Transgender community was at an all time high, MMV was instrumental in organizing a collective voice from within this community to begin a dialogue of change and understanding. She is the true definition of an ally,” said
Sean Coleman Executive Director of Destination Tomorrow and Trans Advocate.
“Melissa is the fiercest LGBT ally I’ve ever know. She is an unconditional and unwavering supporter of full LGBT rights. I am honored to call her my friend, but even prouder to know that she’ll make history as the first Latina to be Speaker of the New York City Council. As a Puerto Rican, I could not be prouder,” said Pedro Julio Serrano
Andrew Velez, HIV/AIDS Activist & Chair LGBT Advisory Panel to NYC Police Commissioner said, “When you talk with Melissa Mark-Viverito she is really listening. And when she says “Yes, I can definitely support that,” there’s no doubt that she means what says. To know she will be playing a pivotal role in the New York City Council on issues that matter in all of our lives gives us hope for much needed changes.”
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has always been a supporter of the LGBT and as an ally. She has personally supported me as a friend and mentor thru out my transition and understands the growing need for education of the transgender movement throughout the 5 boroughs of this city,” said Bryan John Ellicott of The Queer Empowerment Project.
“Melissa Mark-Viverito has always been there for us and we will always be there for her. She is the strongest ally we have ever had on the New York City Council — bar none.” said Andy Praschak, LQBTQ Community Activist and Founder of “Fundacion de Derechos Humanos.
Eunic Ortiz, Community Leader said, “Melissa has been a great advocate for the LGBT community during her 8 years in the City Council and will continue to be a strong voice for our community as Speaker. Even in a City like New York, it is important to ensure our leaders in government are vocal, strong and have shown a proven record of results when it comes to getting things done for LGBT New Yorkers. Melissa will make an outstanding Speaker and will be the voice we need for the LGBT community.”
“Melissa Mark Vivierito has been a strong ally of not just low income people of color but the LGBT community as well. My work with her in the past has always resulted in a positive outcome and this is very important to the LGBT community as we transition from one administration to another. As the Dance Director for Heritage of Pride (NYCPride), I fully support her candidacy for Speaker, and know she will continue the great support of the New York City Council that has been a benefit to us all,” said Mo George
Dance Director – Heritage of Pride and Public Housing Campaign Director of Community Voices Heard.
“It is without reservation that I support Melissa Mark-Viverito for the position of Speaker of the Council. She has been my council person until this most recent election. She has demonstrated her commitment to progressive ideals that give access to citizens to take part in the policymaking and budgetary processes of our City. She has also shown that she is willing to address issues or problems that residents consider vital to the well being of the community whether it be safe guarding children by the assignment of a school guard or protecting the quality of life by considering the impact of large luxury housing in our community,” said Dr. Wilhelmina Perry, Community Activist.
“Melissa Mark Viverito has always been a strong ally to the LGBT community. She dedicated her life to ending injustice in all its forms including discrimination and violence against members of the LGBT community both here in the City of New York and in Puerto Rico,” said Fredy Kaplan, Community Activist.
“As one of the founders of Staten Island Stonewall, the political voice of Staten Island’s LGBT Community, I am happy to make this statement in support of Melissa Mark-Viverito’s candidacy for Speaker of the NYC Council. As a straight ally, she has shown us her support both privately and publicly, going so far as to travel to Puerto Rico to lobby legislators there in support of LGBT rights legislation. I am proud to give her my support,” said Rosemary F. Palladino, Esq.
“Councilmember Mark-Viverito’s leadership on economic justice helps thousands of LGBT working people. Her leadership will be crucial in reducing the economic inequality undermining our common future,” said Rev. John Magisano, community activist.