OP-ED: Let Me Set The Record Straight


With a shrinking conference, Sen. Mike Gianaris now must resort to Trump’s Orwellian playbook to create a world where for the sake of party orthodoxy “two plus two equals five.” But longtime progressive Democrats bold enough to abandon the DSCC Chair’s mind-bending “1984” tactics know better.

Eight Independent Democratic Conference members, plus 22 mainline Dems and one so-called Democrat who sits and conferences with Republicans equals 31. That’s not a majority.

Furthermore, we cannot erase history and the record shows it is mainline Democrats who continuously impede serious progressive issues from moving forward.

In 2014, activists called on Sen. Jeff Klein to bring the DREAM Act to the floor. As the lead sponsor of that bill, I welcomed the Independent Democratic Conference’s wholehearted support to help our Dreamers. Gianaris did not and put politics over our immigrant students. Gianaris allowed one marginal Democrat to vote against immigrants, Sen. Ted O’Brien.

Sen. Simcha Felder also voted against this measure, meaning two duly elected Democrats delivered a defeat of a progressive issue.

In 2013, Klein brought a hostile amendment to the floor to codify Roe v. Wade. Again, there were two Dems; Felder, who sits with Republicans; and Sen. Ruben Diaz, who voted against it based on religious beliefs.

Inside the Democratic Conference, in conversations I’ve been privy to until I left to conference with the IDC, Diaz also made clear he would never vote for GENDA legislation to protect transgender New Yorkers because of his religious beliefs as a Pentecostal minister.

If Gianaris wants GENDA to pass, he should encourage all of his members to become co-sponsors of this important legislation.

I sponsor the Liberty Act and it is shameful that it’s become a talking point for mainline Democrats who do not have the votes to pass it. Last year, when Donald Trump campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform, and just days after he announced he would ban Muslims, several Democrats voted for a Republican anti-sanctuary city bill that came to the floor, including Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn), Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Island) and Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo).

And on the day Trump issued his second executive order banning Muslims from our country, this bill once again went through committee. This time, two Queens senators voted “aye” without recommendation.

It’s frightening that Gianaris wants the masses to believe that a “unified” group of Democrats could make these things magically happen. We don’t even have 32 Democrats in the Senate right now. There are 31.

Gianaris can continue to rewrite the past, spout alternative facts or spin progressive fairytales, but those of us based in reality know the truth and will try to effect progressive change for New York State the best way we can.

The IDC, which conferences apart from mainline Democrats and Republicans, is the only conference whose members are 100 percent pro-choice, 100 percent supportive of LGBTQ issues and 100 percent pro-immigrant.

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