QUEENS, NY (01/28/2021) (readMedia)-- Tom Duane, who was the first openly LGBTQ and HIV-positive person to be elected to the State Senate, today endorsed Jimmy Van Bramer for Queens Borough President. Duane joins a growing coalition of progressives backing Van Bramer, including Senator Jessica Ramos, Assembly Member Ron Kim, Zephyr Teachout, Kal Penn and Cynthia Nixon. Van Bramer is the first-ever openly gay candidate to run for Queens Borough President, and if elected he would be the first openly gay Borough President in New York City.
Van Bramer launched his campaign last week - watch the video here.
Duane, a Queens native and a LGBTQ rights icon, spearheaded the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, strengthened state hate crime laws, and originally sponsored New York's Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) that eventually passed in 2019. Van Bramer volunteered on Duane's successful 1991 City Council campaign, which made Duane the first out LGBTQ City Council Member.
"I am so proud to endorse Jimmy Van Bramer for Borough President because Queens deserves a progressive, effective and fiercely independent public servant leading us forward. Like Jimmy, I grew up and cut my teeth in Queens politics, and he has always been a voice for marginalized communities even before COVID. He courageously came out as an openly gay man at St. John's University in the 1990's and formed the first-ever Gay Student Group on campus, and he's been fighting for equality and justice for all ever since. He's battled party bosses, stood firm against corporate greed and government giveaways, and successfully fought for tenants, small businesses, public transportation and more educational resources. The status quo just won't cut it anymore, we need Jimmy's empathetic and tenacious voice advocating for working families. He knows who he is and he'll never give up," said Senator Tom Duane.
"Today's progressive movement comes from a history of LGBTQ activism in Queens, and that's where my career in public service started: Fighting against the county machine for basic human dignity. I'm proud to have Senator Duane's support as we fight for a Queens that works for all of us - that fight could not be more significant than it is right now, and it would not be possible without Senator Duane's years of breaking barriers," said Jimmy Van Bramer.
Van Bramer began his life-long LGBTQ activism as a St. John's University student nearly 30 years ago. In 1993 he led a group of queer students that fought and protested for official recognition by the largest Catholic university in the country. Van Bramer later joined the 1998 state senate campaign to elect Ed Sedarbaum - the first openly gay candidate to run for office in Queens. A year later in 1999 he led a civil disobedience action with Irish LGBTQ activists to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade, for which he was arrested. Before Jimmy joined the City Council in 2010, Queens had never elected an out LGBTQ person to elected office. He married his husband Dan in 2012, making Van Bramer the first openly-gay elected official in Queens to get married.
Van Bramer is the only candidate for Queens Borough President to reject real estate donations, oppose the city's mega-jails plan to replace Rikers and lead the fight against Amazon's plan for a taxpayer subsidized HQ2. Van Bramer is committed to a reduction of at least $1 billion in the NYPD and reallocating those funds to incarceration alternatives; placing a moratorium on luxury development and creating more affordable housing; building a network of protected bike lanes all across Queens; creating more public hospitals; and building a new, community-driven land use process.
Background on Van Bramer
Jimmy Van Bramer, born and raised in Astoria, Queens, is the Deputy Leader of the New York City Council. He was first elected to the New York City Council on November 3, 2009, and re-elected in both 2013 and 2017. Van Bramer is a founding member of the progressive caucus of the New York City Council.
He works tirelessly to fight for working people, equality for all, and the importance of improving quality of life in our community- values instilled by his parents. His father, William Van Bramer, was a lifelong member of Printers' and Pressman's Union Local 2, and his mother Elizabeth Van Bramer helped support the family - even through bouts of homelessness and food insecurity - by working as a meat wrapper and cashier at local supermarkets, and was a member of Local 1893 of the International Brotherhood of Painters.
His first foray into organizing was when he was a St. John's University student in 1993, leading a queer group of students who fought to be officially recognized by the largest catholic university in the country. Later, he organized for Ed Sedarbaum's 1998 State Senate race, gravitating towards the nascent movement to elect queer people in Queens and starting his personal decades long fight with the Queens County Democratic Party machine.
In 1998, he was an organizer with Citizen Action of New York to create what-is-now today's current New York City campaign finance system with matching funds. At the same time, he led civil disobedience actions with Irish LGBTQ folks trying to march in the city's St. Patrick's Day parades, which previously banned openly queer groups from marching.
In 2001, he stepped forward as the insurgent candidate against the Queens machine for City Council, coming in second. In the ensuing years, he worked as an organizer for the Queens Public Library and joined the board of the Queens Council on the Arts. In 2009, Van Bramer won his City Council election against Queens County machine pick Deirdre Feerick. He similarly bucked the machine to back Melissa Mark-Viverito for Speaker.
He was a leader in the opposition to $3 billion of tax subsidies for Amazon HQ2 and was the first Queens elected official to endorse Tiffany Cabán for Queens District Attorney.
He currently lives in Sunnyside Gardens with his husband Dan Hendrick. Jimmy married Dan on July 28, 2012, becoming the first openly-gay elected official to get married in the borough of Queens.