After three consecutive nights of presidential endorsement meetings, LGBTQ New York Democrats have spoken: Two queer political clubs endorsed Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and one threw its support behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID) capped off the three-day affair on January 23 by endorsing Warren roughly 24 hours after the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City backed her campaign and two days after the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club endorsed Sanders.
LID’s endorsement meeting at the Brooklyn Commons in Boerum Hill drew many of the same surrogates who attended Stonewall’s endorsement meeting across the East River on January 22 — including Working Families Party strategy director Nelini Stamp representing the Warren campaign — and most surrogates delivered the same kind of message as they did at the Stonewall meeting.
But it wasn’t a complete repeat: Stamp got personal and spoke about how she became inspired by Warren’s support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, while Jared Trujillo, an out gay defense attorney who is involved with LID and also on the steering committee of DecrimNY — the coalition to decriminalize sex work — made the case for Sanders. Brooklyn City Councilmember Rafael Espinal represented the Sanders campaign at the Jim Owles and Stonewall endorsement meetings.
Along with Stamp, returning surrogates included Taylor Shubert for the Amy Klobuchar campaign, Asa Pace for Pete Buttigieg, and Carson Tueller from the Andrew Yang campaign. Unlike at the Stonewall event, former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign did not send a surrogate, nor did former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — whose campaign faced tough scrutiny during the meeting in Manhattan the evening before.
The mood in the room in Brooklyn was calmer than the rousing enthusiasm for Warren in Manhattan on January 22. Some in the audience wore pins supporting candidates like Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and others donned Bernie Sanders shirts.
But the club still went on to vote for Warren after Stamp again made the case for the Massachusetts senator and mixed in anecdotes about her own hardships growing up. Stamp recalled dropping out of LaGuardia High School, losing hope in the future, and turning to work in retail before her family was crushed by the financial crisis of 2008.
“My mom went bankrupt,” she said. “And there was this one older white lady who I didn’t think I would ever have anything in common with who said, ‘This is a problem. The banks are to blame, Wall Street is to blame — not the people who are suffering.’”
Stamp further noted that Warren’s ascendance to take the lead on creating the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau during Barack Obama’s presidency marked the first time she felt engaged with a national political figure from outside of New York.
Like Stamp, Trujillo also got personal in his speech for Sanders, saying, “Quite frankly, sometimes I think about myself. As a gay man, it gives me great pride to be able to support someone for president who isn’t just for gay rights now because it’s popular, but he was standing up for queer folks in 1983.”
But Trujillo framed much of his speech around Sanders’ criminal justice reform platform and how the Vermont senator’s policies would benefit the clients Trujillo represents. Trujillo cited Sanders’ calls for clemency and for the rights of incarcerated individuals to vote (the Census counts prisoners where they are being held, adding clout but no additional enfranchisement to those election districts), among other elements of his candidacy.
“I think about my clients and I think about the fact that almost no one is ever talking about kids in foster care, but Bernie is,” Trujillo said. “I think about my clients who are incarcerated, mostly black and brown folks, overwhelmingly transgender folks… I think about how expansive his criminal justice platform is.”
He continued, “I think about my immigrant clients and how they are worried about deportation, which Bernie is worried about, but how they’re also worried about workplace exploitation and how Bernie Sanders has a comprehensive plan to stop worker exploitation. I think about my disabled clients, and how Bernie Sanders isn’t just talking about Medicare for All now, but he’s been talking about Medicare for All… I think about my clients with HIV and how Bernie wants to use march-in rights to lower the price of Truvada.”
As for the other candidates, Pace again showered praise on Buttigieg and, among several topics discussed, defended his about-face on Medicare for All in favor of a public option instead and his reluctance to support voting rights for incarcerated folks. Pace, who is non-binary, also explained that Buttigieg inspired them to come out to their family and friends.
Tueller and Shubert, respectively, pitched Yang and Klobuchar’s candidacies to the club in very much the same way they did at Stonewall’s endorsement event. Tueller touched on Yang’s support for a universal basic income, and Shubert sought to convince the crowd that Klobuchar would be a successful president on a number of issues, from gun control to criminal justice reform and LGBTQ rights.
LID announced the Warren endorsement on social media platforms following the conclusion of the meeting, writing, “Pride, Progress and a plan for that, LID is proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for President of the United States!!!!!”