It’s official: Anti-LGBTQ Brooklyn City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch has filed with the Federal Election Commission to kick off his run for Congress later this year against incumbent Yvette Clarke in the Ninth Congressional District.
Gay City News, early last month, first broke the news that Deutsch was planning to mount a Democratic primary bid against Clarke, who was initially elected to Congress in 2006.
Deutsch is joining an increasingly crowded group of candidates challenging Clarke for her seat. Former Working Families Party organizer Adem Bunkeddeko, small business owner Lutchi Gayot, and community organizer Isiah James are also running to oust the incumbent.
Deutsch and other anti-LGBTQ Democrats running for Congress in New York — including Bronx Councilmembers Ruben Diaz, Sr., and Fernando Cabrera — threaten to shift the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives in a sharply conservative direction. Deutsch’s years-long assault on the LGBTQ community dates back to before he was even elected to serve in Southern Brooklyn’s 48th Council District, and he has put forward a unique form of bigotry consisting of three key elements: anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, a disturbing record of voting against queer causes, and allegations of homophobia targeting lesbian military veterans.
Deutsch’s troubling past relationship with the community extends back to at least 2013 when he attacked an opponent, Theresa Scavo, during his first Democratic primary race for City Council.
“I have to say that, Theresa, you have the National Organization for Women’s endorsement, which, I don’t know how you could represent this community when they have an agenda with gays and lesbians,” he said at that debate, which was caught on video and posted on YouTube, a clip that has curiously been marked “private” since then.
Deutsch’s bigotry has also seeped into his public service role on numerous occasions over the years — and his record shows that he as transphobic as he is homophobic: He rejected legislation allowing individuals to change the sex designation on their birth certificates, voted against a bill banning conversion therapy citywide, and opposed a common-sense resolution encouraging the Department of Education to provide curricular and other support for queer students, among several other bills.
Numerous people who have interacted with Deutsch have recalled disturbing encounters with him. Out lesbian Kristen Rouse, the former president and founding director of the New York City Veterans’ Alliance, told Gay City News that the Brooklyn lawmaker told her “that he cannot be seen supporting the equality of LGBTQ individuals, even if they are veterans.” She also said Deutsch avoided meetings with out lesbian Loree Sutton when she was the commissioner of the Department of Veterans’ Services. Sutton is now running for mayor.
Lyosha Gorshkov, who previously led an LGBTQ organization for Russian-speaking immigrants called RUSA LGBT, said Deutsch told him he felt people should have a “choice” to undergo conversion therapy and that he does “not support same-sex marriage because it’s against my religion.”
Deutsch’s bid follows behind those of Caberera and Diaz, who have both already declared their candidacies. Diaz, who has railed against LGBTQ rights for decades and most recently complained that the City Council is controlled by gays, is running for an open seat in New York’s 14th Congressional District. Cabrera is running against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 15th Congressional District roughly six years after he traveled to Uganda and praised the government’s effort to impose draconian punishments for same-sex relations. Cabrera is also the founder and pastor at New Life Outreach International, a church that states that marriage is “the exclusive covenantal union of one man and one woman.”
The Democratic primary election for all three of those races will take place on June 22.