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She probably knew that this day would come.
Facing the blowback from supporting John Heyer for City Council, Assemblywoman Joan Millman recently visited the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s leading gay political club, to let them know that despite her candidate’s anti-gay marriage stance, she still stands with her friends in the borough’s LGBT community.
In the end, it was a political mea culpa for the record books.
“It was about being loyal to someone who has always been loyal to me,” the Carroll Gardens legislator told Lambda members during their meeting at Camp Friendship in Park Slope.
During the primary Millman endorsed Heyer for the 39th District even though he had repeatedly said that he was pro-life and personally against gay marriage.
Instead Heyer tried to push for a new paradigm of civil unions where one’s faith would be left out of the equation, but the LGBT community didn’t bite, especially after an article in Der Blatt, a Hebrew newspaper from Orthodox Borough Park that said Heyer was against “abominations” -- apparently Hebrew code for homosexuals.
Heyer ended up coming in third in the five-person race to replace Bill de Blasio.
Millman said that she had backed Heyer because the Carroll Gardens native was a longtime member of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats.
“I’ve known him [Heyer] his whole life,” she told Lambda members, while admitting that she knew his thoughts on gay marriage wouldn’t fly in the 39th District.
“I thought maybe he should move to Bensonhurst, because he was not going to win here,” she said. “But wherever you go those kind of thoughts are going to be less and less popular.”
While she seemed contrite and stood on her record of supporting LGBT causes, Lambda members weren’t about to let her off the hook.
Some shot her “How could you?” looks while others pushed the issue, wondering why she didn’t speak out against her candidate’s comments on gay marriage.
“I understand loyalty, but maybe loyalty should not have been the only reason to support a campaign like this one,” one member said. “I can’t imagine supporting someone who didn’t believe in a woman’s rights to choose.”
Another member, Dan Tietz, said that he was shocked that not a single comment came from Millman’s office about her stance on Heyer’s views.
“We were hoping you would make one, but it never came,” he said.
Millman nodded, fully acknowledging that her relationship with Heyer had repercussions.
“I did pay a price for [supporting Heyer],” she said. “I will not do it again.”
Believing her sincerity, some Lambda members were once again willing to let bygones be bygones.
“Let’s just say she screwed up and move on,” said Lambda member and Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue BID Irene Lo Re.
When contacted, Heyer said that his campaign was always about “equal rights for everyone,” which he believed could be accomplished through expanded civil unions.
“If we’re talking about getting everyone the same rights, maybe we should go a different way,” he said.
When asked to comment about Millman’s mea culpa on supporting his campaign, Heyer said “that was her prerogative.”
“Joan’s strengths as an Assemblywoman go beyond these issues,” he said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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