Christine Quinn brought her campaign for New York City mayor to D.C. on Sunday, telling a crowd of Victory Fund supporters that this is not the time for complacency.
"There's not one jurisdiction in the United States that has passed an LGBT family-recognition law that doesn't have an LGBT elected official," said Quinn, the first out speaker of the New York City Council, during the Victory Fund's national brunch at the Washington Hilton.
The 46-year-old Quinn, who announced her candidacy last month, is considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for mayor. If she does receive the nomination, most political observers do not believe there is a Republican who can beat her. She would become New York City's first female mayor and first out gay mayor.
Although Quinn shied from the historic nature of her candidacy when she announced her run for mayor in March, she seemed well aware of what could be accomplished on Election Day.
"Nobody in any elected office, whether they like it or not, think we’re ever going to only have one bite of the apple," Quinn said Sunday of previous attitudes that LGBT people should take whatever they can get. "Cause our job is to get to full equality, which means striking all of the laws of every anti-LGBT reference that is in there. Because as long as those are in the laws, make no mistake, they are like a dormant cancer that can rise up at anytime and spread far and wide throughout the legal foundation of that jurisdiction and the country."
Speaking of a recent college graduate who came up to her during a Victory Fund event in Chicago and told her he had once considered suicide because he is gay, Quinn said there is nothing more powerful than elected LGBT people as role models.
"We have a wind at our back now that we have never had before. So that means we have to double down, we have to dig deeper, we have to push harder, and we have to seize every victory and take it to the fullest level. That's what we owe that young man, that's what we owe everybody who for decades came before us," Quinn said to a crescendo of cheers. "And that is why when I'm back here next year I will be the mayor of the city of New York!"
Quinn's speech was the first encounter a number of Victory Fund supporters have had with the New York City politician as her national profile continues to rise. Although Quinn has faced her fair share of criticism from New Yorkers on a number of issues since she first ran for the City Council in 1999, she has fostered a reputation as a brash politician with a talent for getting things done. She is expected to receive the endorsement of current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was first elected as a Republican before becoming an independent and has strong support among the business community.
"What's it going to be like to have the most important financial city on the planet, the most important city in this country — what's it going to be like to have an out mayor?" asked Victory Fund president and CEO, Chuck Wolfe.
Victory Fund endorsed Quinn in January before she had even declared her candidacy. Quinn's election would make New York the largest municipality to ever be led by an out mayor.
Among the other speakers at Sunday's event was Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), another history maker who is the Senate's first out member and the first female senator from Wisconsin. Noting the flood of endorsements for marriage equality from many of her colleagues in the Senate, Baldwin said politicians face two choices on the issue of equality: evolution or extinction.
[Photo: Christine Quinn (Credit: Ward Morrison/Metro Weekly)]