A New York State Senator Making a Difference
June 19, 2011 by Marty Rouse, National Field Director
Twenty years ago Tom Duane became the first openly gay man elected to the New York City Council. In the heat of a close campaign Tom stunned the political establishment when he announced that he was HIV-positive. Such a declaration was unheard of in the early 90s. Pundits predicted that he would lose the election and some opined that he consider dropping out of the race. But Tom won the hearts and minds of many for his courage and fighting spirit to give voice to those who are considered less than. He won that election and then went on to become the first openly gay member of the New York state Senate seven years later.
In the state Senate, Tom fights on behalf of low-income residents, seniors, and others who need a strong voice to fight for them. But it is Tom's fight on behalf of the GLBT community that has endeared him to thousands, GLBT and straight. He led the multi-year effort to pass SONDA (Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act), and fought to pass the Anti-Bulllying Law DASA (Dignity for All Students Act), and is a sponsor of GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act). Today, as the campaign to pass a marriage equality bill is at its peak, Tom Duane is doing all that he can to make life better for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
In the 25 years that I have known Tom, I know that his passion and his commitment to the people of his District is a deeply personal one. It is that personal passion to bring out the best in New York that has helped us get so close to passing marriage.
Tom's staff are just as dedicated to making change as he is. Some of them have spent weekends working for marriage equality.
Thank you, Tom for all that you and your staff have done over so many years to improve the lives of the citizens in the City that you love.
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