Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Don't Tell the Boston Crowd -- They'll Go Down to Protest

From the front page of this morning's New York Times, news that Christine Quinn, an openly gay woman, will be elected this morning as the next Speaker of New York City Council.

The ascension of Ms. Quinn, 39, not only confronts [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] with a strong-willed opponent with firm convictions, but also one who is welcomed by the administration as a straightforward adversary unafraid to compromise for the sake of practical politics. In the process, she will be automatically propelled to the top rung of New York City politicians. In the past, speakers have gone on to campaigns for mayor or governor.

But her role as Council speaker is perhaps even more significant on a symbolic level. As an openly gay woman, she could become a trailblazer for other gay politicians.

"This has extraordinary significance in its own right: Chris will be the second most powerful person in the largest city in America," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "In terms of raw political power, the size of the city budget and the Council's powers, she will become the most powerful openly lesbian or gay official in the country."

In six years on the Council, Christine Callaghan Quinn has proved to be both a formidable opponent and ally of the mayor's.

As chairwoman of the Health Committee, she has sponsored legislation to provide health care benefits to domestic partners and grocery workers over the objections of Mr. Bloomberg. But she also provided support for his ban on smoking in most restaurants and bars....

"She's a person who's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in," said George Arzt, who has known Ms. Quinn for more than a decade. Mr. Arzt was press secretary for Mayor Edward I. Koch. "But she tries to sit down and reason with you. If not, she will go her own way."
What a quandary loud self-anointed "authentic" Catholics face in New York. Pro-choice, pro-gay marriage Republican mayor, even more liberal Dems.... What's a fundamentalist to do?

Then again, I can't say I feel terribly sympathetic to their closed-minded plight. Crime is at levels last seen in the 1960s, the schools are on a better footing than they've been in decades, services are arguably more comprehensive and professionally-run than ever before.

Fret not, Catholics: the Gospel of Life is alive and well in the Big Apple.