Cynthia Nixon is making ‘Unqualified Lesbian’ campaign badges
Cynthia Nixon has turned a personal attack from a political opponent into her de facto campaign slogan.
The former Sex and the City star and long-time LGBT activist this month announced a bid to become Governor of New York, as a Democratic primary challenger to the incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Hitting out at her left-wing challenge earlier this month, the former Speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn branded her an “unqualified lesbian”.
Ms Quinn, who is herself gay, complained of Nixon: “She wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the Governor of New York.”
But Nixon has taken the insult in her stride.
The candidate – who is massively out-fundraising Cuomo with individual donors – is now giving out badges on her website bearing the phrase.
The “Unqualified Lesbian buttons” are available in two colours, blue and white, for donors who give $5 or more to the Cynthia Nixon for New York campaign.
Her campaign added: “Cynthia was called an ‘unqualified lesbian’. In her defense there’s a lot of paperwork required. Grab your button to support our campaign today.”
Nixon herself had responded to the stage at a campaign rally held at New York City’s iconic LGBT landmark Stonewall Inn.
Opening the event, she said: “Welcome, unqualified lesbians, and qualified ones too! Welcome to the trans community, welcome to queer people of every stripe, and our beautiful straight allies.”
In her speech, Nixon said: “We have to mix things up, we have to upend the status quo, we have to fight back and we have to speak truth in a way that not everybody likes.
“Yesterday, when I announced my candidacy, one of Gov. Cuomo’s top surrogates dismissed me as an ‘unqualified lesbian’.
“I just want to say tonight that she was technically right. I don’t have my certificate from the Department of Lesbian Affairs. But in my defence, there is a lot of paperwork involved.”
Ms Quinn had made her comments while apparently still smarting from her defeat in the 2013 Democratic primary for NYC Mayor, in which Nixon supported a rival candidate.
She had said: “It’s a flight of fancy on her part. Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City. Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the Governor of New York.
“You have to be qualified and have experience. She isn’t qualified to be the governor.”
She later apologised for her remarks, telling Time Magazine: “Cynthia Nixon’s identity has no bearing on her gubernatorial candidacy and it was not my intention to suggest it did.
“I want to be clear about that. I would never, ever, criticise someone because of their identity.
“I’ve experienced that kind of criticism time and time again and I would never support it or condone it.”
Elsewhere in her speech at Stonewall, Nixon said: “I want to say how happy I am to be here with you at Stonewall, where a group of people in 1969 drew a line in the sand and fought back and said ‘no more’.
“We would literally not be here tonight if it were for the brave [activists] like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, who put their lives on the line – not just for themselves, but for all of us here tonight.
“Being a queer visible person has been one of the unexpected joys of my life. As a community we’re at a thorny moment in our LGBTQ journey – it’s a time when many would say it’s better to be queer than it ever has before. We’ve repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, we’ve passed marriage equality, we’ve defeated DOMA.
“Queer people across this country are enjoying an acceptance and a visibility that is unprecedented. We are standing in the sunshine, but if we look around, we will see some of us are still partly in the shadows. Queer people who are also African-American or Muslim or Latino or Trans or working class are being targeted brutally on a daily basis, in a way that takes my breath away.
“The activists and organisers and ordinary people who fought back at Stonewall were asking a really important question: does ‘We, the people’ include all of us? It’s a question we need to be asking ourselves today.”
She also described Trump as a “sad little miserable man”.
Nixon’s campaign is being largely opposed by the LGBT lobby, with groups including the Human Rights Campaign giving their backing to Gov. Cuomo over the lifelong queer activist.
Nixon’s supporters have been shocked by some of the aggressive campaigning against her by established LGBT politicians in the state.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney – the first openly gay member of Congress from New York – laid into the candidate, saying: “I can’t think of a worse time to pick some holier-than-thou contest with a guy who has a great progressive record. It just makes no sense to me.”
He added: “For my part, I have worked on LGBT issues with Governor Cuomo for more than a decade, and he was instrumental in helping me become the first openly gay member of Congress from New York.
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“I can say unequivocally that the LGBTQ community has not had a greater champion than Governor Cuomo. He has not only been on the right side of our issues, but has delivered results that have changed the trajectory of our nation’s progress toward LGBTQ equality. Simply put, I owe my marriage to leaders like Andrew Cuomo.
“We must remember that Governor Cuomo took on the marriage equality issue when few politicians dared broach the subject. He was full-throated in his support and unabashed in his efforts, often to his political detriment. That’s called leadership.
“We also must keep focused on the larger goal — electing strong, proven progressive Democrats – including a Democratic Congress — to stop President Trump. Governor Cuomo is a tremendous ally in that effort. We should not have intramural contests that only aid Republicans.
“We should all support Governor Cuomo.”