Friday, July 2, 2010

Former Bloomberg Aide to Go After Opponents of Gay Marriage - City Room Blog -

Former Bloomberg Aide to Go After Opponents of Gay Marriage - City Room Blog -


A former Bloomberg administration official will run a newly formed campaign to defeat state lawmakers who oppose same-sex marriage in New York, in the latest attempt to ratchet up pressure on elected officials to legalize such unions.

Brian Ellner, who until this week worked for the New York City Department of Education, will oversee the Campaign for New York Marriage, which is to be financed by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobbying group based in Washington.

Mr. Ellner’s appointment will be announced by the group on Friday. It represents a vindication of sorts for Mr. Ellner, who was the top candidate to run the state’s leading gay rights group last month. He abruptly withdrew from consideration after some gay advocates questioned his links to Mr. Bloomberg, a major donor to the Republican Party.

“I view this as an opportunity to build on solid work that has come before, and strengthen and expand the coalition that is necessary to secure marriage equality,” Mr. Ellner said in an interview.

The new campaign will seek to re-elect state lawmakers who supported the same-sex marriage bill last year, and to oust those who voted against it. After passing by a wide margin in the state Assembly, the bill was defeated by an eight-vote margin in the Senate, despite a vigorous lobbying effort spearheaded by the Empire State Pride Agenda.

“New York is at a critical tipping point in securing marriage equality and November’s elections hold the key,” said Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The group would not say how much money it intended to spend to elect pro-gay marriage candidates in New York, but those familiar with the plans said the group would seek to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few months.

They are likely to target a handful of Democrats who voted against the marriage bill last year, including Senators Joseph Addabbo and William Stachowski.

The Human Rights Campaign spent about $1 million on political campaigns in Massachusetts to defend the state’s legalization of gay marriage there, which occurred in 2004.

The campaign’s organizers said they would work closely with several existing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, including the Empire State Pride Agenda and Fight Back New York.

Even so, the entry of the Human Rights campaign — the biggest and best-financed gay rights group in the country — into the marriage debate in New York is something of a challenge to existing groups, especially the Empire State Pride Agenda.

In a press release from the Human Rights Campaign, several influential gay leaders praised the appointment of Mr. Ellner. City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, who is openly gay, called him “a great addition to the HRC team.”

No comments: