Jumaane Williams Speaker Bid Slams Into Social Issues

Councilman Jumaane Williams.
Councilman Jumaane Williams.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams endured a barrage of questions about his views on same-sex marriage and abortion following a City Council speaker’s forum tonight–and repeatedly refused to clarify his positions on either issue. 

According to sources and a recent New York Times report, Mr. Williams opposes both same-sex marriage and abortion. While a vast majority of New York Democrats support both, the issue is especially problematic for Mr. Williams because he is a member of the council’s Progressive Caucus, which includes many LGBT and pro-choice advocates, and is hoping to play a significant role in the speaker’s race.

But Mr. Williams refused to say where he stands on either hot-button issue tonight.

“I don’t think any of that matters for the job that I’m trying to get,” he told reporters at Brooklyn Borough Hall, urging them to look to his record and the votes he’s cast as a councilman.

“The only thing I can tell you is to look at the issues that have come before the City Council. Perhaps it would be a different conversation if I was trying to go somewhere else, but I’m going to the City Council,” he argued. “Another time I’m happy to discuss it. My beliefs aren’t private, they’ve never been. But I just came off a panel where they discussed a lot of things and how we’re going to move forward on this.”

Mr. Williams also offered little clarity on the votes he was referring to, noting only that one was a resolution and another concerned abortion clinics. A spokesman for Mr. Williams did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Councilman Brad Lander, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, also dodged several questions about whether a council member who is not pro-choice and pro-same-sex marriage should be a leading member of the caucus or a speaker candidate.

“I’m not going to talk about our internal process of decision-making,” Mr. Lander told Politicker. “We’ve been deeply transparent about the values and goals we’re bringing to this process and we’ve got a set of people committed to stick to them.”

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