2010-08-06 / Top Stories

Huntley ‘Not Surprised’ By LGBT Endorsements

By Howard Schwach

State Senator Shirley Huntley (left) at a recent family day that she sponsored for Broad Channel residents. State Senator Shirley Huntley (left) at a recent family day that she sponsored for Broad Channel residents. State Senator Shirley Huntley said on Tuesday that she is “not surprised” that several gay rights groups have endorsed her opponent in the upcoming election.

The Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), two of the state’s most prominent gay rights groups, recently threw their weight behind Lynn Nunes in his primary challenge of Huntley.

Huntley, who represents Broad Channel and large chunks of Brooklyn in the Senate, was one of eight Democrats who voted against the same sex marriage bill last year.

Huntley told The Wave that she voted against the bill because that’s what her constituents wanted.

“I’m not surprised at all by their endorsement of my opponent,” Huntley said. “I don’t think, however, that [their endorsement] will mean anything in my district. The people in Broad Channel and in most of my district support my view on gay marriage. It is an issue that is important to my constituents, and 62 percent of them said, in a poll I conducted prior to my vote, that they oppose gay marriage. I was sent to Albany to represent them, and that’s the way I voted.”

Huntley had taken a strong rhetorical stand against the same sex marriage bill. Last year, Huntley told the poet Maya Angelou, who was lobbying on behalf of the gay marriage bill, that, “If they gave me a million dollars, tax free, I just wouldn’t vote for it,” according to the New York Times.

Huntley has a strong base of support in her southeast Queens district from the leadership of socially conservative black churches, and has cited those constituents as the reason why she voted against the bill. Huntley’s supporters have pegged Nunes’ support of gay marriage as opportunistic and say it could hurt him in socially conservative neighborhoods in the district.

A number of grassroots gay rights groups, including the Stonewall Democrats, Marriage Equality New York and the Jim Owles Democratic Club, had already endorsed Nunes.

Former Rockaway resident Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Democratic Club, said a push from these grassroots groups had helped convince ESPA and HRC to finally back Nunes.

“It’s important that the LGBT community support anyone who is running against their enemies,” he said. “Lynn Nunes is a logical choice.”

Nunes, who is receiving heavy financial support from charter school backers as well as LGBT advocates, already has a financial advantage in the race with over $155,000 raised as of the last campaign filing. Huntley has $106,000.

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