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Lazio Skips Out on Gay and Lesbian New York

• Election 2000 Coverage
• Spotlight on Rick Lazio
• More News & Notes

Even New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has participated, but for Senatorial Candidate Rick Lazio the New York Pride Parade was a clear miss.

The reaction from the gay and lesbian community was swift and strong:

"We're disappointed, but not surprised, that the congressman is skipping this weekend's march"
--- Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign

""Marching in the lesbian and Gay Pride Parade makes a definite and clear statement of support for our community. Not being there sends an ambiguous message"
--- Matt Foreman of the Empire State Pride Agenda (a bi-partisan gay group)

State Democrats added to the rebukes:

"He is not understanding of what New York is all about and what inclusivity is all about"
--- City Comptroller Alan Hevesi

"It's as if he was born in some other state and doesn't quite understand who we are as New Yorkers."
--- State Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hope

"It very much shows symbolically where Rick Lazio is on issues of concern to the gay community, which is nowhere."
--- Sen. Tom Duane, D-Manhattan

"He's making a big political mistake. The mayor and everybody marches in this parade. But he can't make it."
--- City Councilman Phil Reed, D-Manhattan

Lazio claimed scheduling problems kept him from attending stating that his schedule was packed and suggested he was powerless to change it.

"I'm trying to put some of my faith in these people who schedule me. All I can say, again, is we have a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time."

Both Giuliani and Kevin Ivers, a spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, refused to criticize Lazio for missing the parade.

Mayor Giuliani who does march every year (and whom Lazio replaced in the senatorial race) tried to cover for Lazio with, "People can't march in every parade. There are lots of schedules that they have when they run for office."

It should however be noted that during the previous two weekends Lazio marched in the Salute to Israel parade, the Filipino Independence Day parade, and the Puerto Rican Day parade. Ooooops.

Ivers added his two cent on behalf of the Log Cabiners, "We understand that he has back-to-back fund-raisers. Had he marched, he would have received a very enthusiastic response."

While Lazio spokesman Dan McLagan said the congressman did not have to march to show his support and that he has a "very strong record on individual rights on issues of importance to gay and lesbian individuals and groups."

The facts do not bear this out with Stachelberg and the Human Rights Campaign noting that Lazio has almost always been on the wrong side of many important votes for gays and lesbians during his eight years in Congress. Last year receiving a low score of 18 out of 100.


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