Last night I attended the Empire State Pride Agenda’s annual dinner, a massive and swank affair held in sprawling ballroom where activists mingled with Gov. Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, Sen. Chuck Schumer, emcee Margaret Cho, Alan Cumming, Cheyenne Jackson, and Anne Hathaway (who brought her openly gay brother and smokin’ hot father – who is an LGBT activist/ally in his own right.) Gay City News’ Paul Schindler reports:
During an evening when Governor David A. Paterson employed both his trademark humor and a sobering lesson in the state’s fiscal crisis to reiterate his pledge that “marriage equality is coming to New York State” –– “just in the next few weeks,” no less –– the head of the Empire State Pride Agenda issued a stern warning to members of the State Senate, allies included, who might fail to help make that a reality.
Addressing Senate supporters who have nonetheless “run to the sidelines as fast as they can,” Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of New York State’s LGBT lobby, said, “We have campaigned for you, we have raised money for you, we have supported you in every way imaginable, and we should have no patience for these sorry summer soldiers.” Coming less than a year after ESPA orchestrated the raising of more than $1 million to support the Democratic takeover of the Senate, Van Capelle’s remarks, delivered at the group’s annual Manhattan fall dinner on October 22, reflected his rising frustration with the allies the LGBT community helped install.
“We can find other friends who will do that job for us and do it faster,” he said of the potential that Senate Democrats might fail to heed his call. “We know such friends exist.” The threat to find “other friends” was, in fact, an echo of challenges Van Capelle once issued to the Republican leadership that held sway over the Senate for decades until last November’s election. Then, he warned that if the GOP leadership was unwilling to allow votes on marriage equality, transgender rights, and a school anti-bullying measure, the Pride Agenda would work to put a new team in charge. The group held true to that pledge.
The 1200 attendees of the event raised over $1M for the Pride Agenda. Near the end, I got to shake the governor’s hand – he’s even tinier than Bloomberg. Here’s a slideshow of my photos.