ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In her first appearance as a New York gubernatorial candidate, “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon hammered her Democratic opponent Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the crumbling subway, the “cesspool” of corruption in state government and inequality across the state. But she couldn’t escape what she didn’t mention in her speech, her sexual orientation.
Nixon, who if she wins would become the state’s first openly gay governor, was asked by reporters about a comment made by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a gay Cuomo supporter who called Nixon an “unqualified lesbian.”
“My being a lesbian or her being a lesbian I think has nothing to do with why we’re running for office,” Nixon told the scrum on her way out of an appearance this week in Brooklyn.
“I think it’s time for an outsider,” she said. “I think it is time, not just in New York state but all over this country, to hear from the voices of real people who understand that our government … is in the clutches of millionaires, billionaires and corporations.”
The dustup over Quinn’s remark, for which she later apologized, highlighted what could become a reality of Nixon’s campaign leading to a September primary against the two-term incumbent Cuomo: Whether she likes it or not, Nixon will be forced to confront the issue of her sexuality and stand on gay rights.
That’s especially true against a governor who has long gotten strong support in the gay community for his staunch fight for legislation in 2011 that allowed same-sex couples in the state to marry.
Just last month, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, endorsed Cuomo for re-election and also honored Nixon with a Visibility Award for using “her talent and public platform to speak out for equality in this country and around the globe.”
For now, Nixon’s entry into the race this week hasn’t appeared to shake Cuomo’s support. Most major gay rights advocates and groups, both nationally and in New York, say they are either sticking with Cuomo or staying neutral, noting that LGBT issues are important but not the only factor to consider.
Cuomo made his first public comments about Nixon at a news conference Wednesday on the nor’easter. When asked about her, Cuomo responded: “We’re in the political silly season now. I’ve been here before. We’re in a democracy, anybody can run. Anybody can say whatever they want to say.”