By Elizabeth Haq
The city’s oldest and largest LGBT political club has endorsed three candidates in Manhattan’s contested Democratic primaries, and is making a special push for one of them.
The Stonewall Democrats of New York City held a volunteer event last night for Micah Lasher, the 34-year-old first-time candidate running for Senate District 31. They’ve also endorsed Carmen N. De La Rosa in Assembly District 72 and Daniel O’Donnell in Assembly District 69.
A former chief of staff to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and director of state legislative affairs under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Lasher doesn’t lack friends in high places. In fact, out of the four candidates running for the vacant seat, he’s the closest to the city’s intellectual and financial elite – they helped him raise over $450,000 in campaign funds.
So what makes the Upper West Sider fit to represent this widespread, often underrepresented community?
Rose Christ, vice president of the club for the last four years, said that an effective representative doesn’t have be a mirror of his or her constituents.
“I like people that worked aggressively when they were staffers,” she said. “They have an insider’s perspective and just need the influence to make things happen.”
Christ herself was split between Lasher and Robert Jackson, until one particular issue.
“Religious organizations using public schools for programming,” she said. It’s a sticking point for Stonewall members who believe that religious events are often discriminatory, and sometimes outright hateful, of the LGBT community.
According to Christ, Lasher is the only candidate who adamantly opposed the use of public spaces for religious programming. He also mentions the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), a proposed New York law that protects gender identity and expression under human rights and hate crime laws, as a priority on his campaign website.
“The other candidates won’t prioritize passing GENDA, especially the candidate being supported by the IDC,” Christ said, referring to the Independent Democratic Conference. The breakaway coalition that caucuses with the GOP in New York State Senate has thrown its support behind Lasher’s opponent, Marisol Alcantara.
“That was a deciding factor for a lot of us. That’s when I thought Lasher’s our guy,” she said.