By Mark Hallum
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) stepped out of his district last week to openly oppose anti-LGBT statements made by Democrat S.J. Jung, a candidate for state Senate.
At a Tuesday news conference in front of the former MinKwon Center president’s campaign headquarters in Flushing at 32-26 Union St., Dromm expressed concern for the civil rights of the LGBT community and a feeling of betrayal from Jung, who once worked with the councilman in local activist groups. Dromm was joined by Michael Mallon, president of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club; Michael Serao of the LGBT Network; and activist Larry Menzie
At a church event in March, Jung told a Korean youth group he believed gay marriage should not be depicted in textbooks.
“As state senator, I will protect them from hate crimes and uphold their human and legal rights. I, however, believe the Bible’s teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman and do not support same sex marriage. I believe this is a matter of distinction, not a matter of discrimination. At the event on March 28, I talked about the challenges faced by groups who are not in agreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the same sex marriage. I was referring to a general trend in the nation, not a specific legislation pending in the NewYork State Senate,” Jung said Aug. 30.
But this statement confused and failed to resonate with Dromm and the LGBTQ leaders who stood with him at the conference. According to Dromm, Jung seems to fail to understand the nature of discrimination.
““I don’t think a young person understands the difference [between distinction and discrimination] either. They get a message that they are less than, they are not valued, and that’s a very dangerous message,” Menzie, a Generation Q founder, said. “It’s unimaginable that we are fighting this fight right now.”
Dromm said Jung stating his opinion on gay marriage in front of a group of youths was a reckless move, considering the statistic that between 3 percent and 10 percent of the population is LGBT.
“You have to wonder the impact it has on kids like that,” Dromm said. “You know, we hear about suicides, we hear about youth being bullied in schools. This is a different form of bullying.”
Mallon joined the discussion.
“He said he wants to keep LGBT couples out of school textbooks, he wants to keep us invisible and in the closet,” Mallon said, adding how erasing gay people from curriculum validates a dangerous self-loathing in youth who need role models.
Dromm said he and Jung had worked together in the past to achieve a equality for both LGBT and immigrant groups, but his latest statements came as a stab in back.
Dromm’s Council district has some overlap with the Senate district where Jung is running, which makes Dromm skeptical that the candidate can represent the LGBT community of Jackson Heights and the surrounding area, which has served as a safe haven.
Just three blocks away, Jung’s opponent, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Bayside), held a news conference to discuss the damage her challenger’s views would have on marriage equality and women’s rights. State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) used the opportunity to give Stavisky his endorsement.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall