Two mayoral candidates, Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn, responded aggressively after a heckler berated Mr. de Blasio last night for defending gay rights.
“Shame! Shame!” yelled an Orthodox Jewish man at the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition forum as Mr. de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, attempted to explain why a Democratic rival, Erick Salgado, was wrong for criticizing gay pride parades.
Mr. Salgado, a socially conservative reverend, had argued to wild applause that the government was “persecuting” Orthodox Jews in a somewhat rambling response to a question concerning a controversial circumcision practice.
“They are marching here every year in the New York gay pride parade, they’re marching over here, trying to band together,” he said in passing.
After fellow Gracie Mansion hopefuls Anthony Weiner and Bill Thompson spoke, Mr. de Blasio discussed Mr. Salgado’s remarks.
“First of all, I’m not sure exactly–Erick Salgado’s, your point before–I’m not sure exactly what you’re suggesting,” Mr. de Blasio said. “But I just want to say, I think as mayor of New York City it would be my job to protect the rights and needs of the Orthodox community and protect the rights and needs of the LGBT community.”
As the man rose to chant “shame” and a few members of the predominately Orthodox audience booed, the moderator tried to quell them.
Mr. de Blasio, undeterred, continued.
“This is a place for everyone and the government’s job is to protect everyone and their needs,” he argued.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who would be the city’s first openly-gay mayor if she emerges victorious from the race, then pushed back against the heckler, who was at this point silent.
“You have to be a city where everyone gets to be who they are without ‘shame’ being screamed at them at an auditorium,” Ms. Quinn said, her voice rising. “Without somebody walking up to them on the street and attacking them, without somebody burning a mezuzah, without somebody, quite frankly, just two weeks ago walking up to a man in my district in Greenwich Village and shooting him in the face and killing him because he was gay.”