Apr 2 2007

The Gay City News reports that New York continues its status as a leading “blue state” with the election of openly gay Matt Titone to the New York State Assembly. Titone becomes the first member of the LGBT community elected from the New York City borough of Staten Island, which has historically been a stronghold for Republicans. He will join three other “out” members in the New York legislature. Photo

The victory represents yet another big victory for the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) since the first of the year. Along with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Stonewall Democrats of New York City, Human Rights Campaign and others, they spearheaded a successful effort to pour enormous resources into the Titone race.

This victory follows the election of Craig Johnson to the New York State Senate from a Republican district in Long Island. ESPA’s role in electing Johnson demonstrates the organization’s emerging power in New York state politics. Johnson, who was also backed by Governor Elliot Spitzer, is straight but a strong advocate of marriage equality.

The Gay City News said this about Titone’s victory:

The Democratic win was significant for advocates of same-sex marriage equality in Albany. Lavelle had been among the 55 Democrats that the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) has identified in the 150-member Assembly supporting a bill to give gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. With Eliot Spitzer, the new Democratic governor, supporting marriage equality, advocates hope to achieve victory, at least in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, if not, for the moment, in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a shrinking two-vote majority.

There are a couple of interesting things to note about this race. Considering its success, ESPA is clearly a role model for other LGBT state and local organizations. I hope that ESPA will consider holding workshops in other states or, in some meaningful way, sharing its knowledge of best practices in political action at the state and local level. In addition, I’ve found ESPA’s ability to easily work with both local and national political organizations, as well as the powerful LGBT press, especially impressive. When we get our act together, no one can stop us.