Meeks dismisses New Reformers call to make party candidates pledge to protect ‘fundamental rights’ as ‘unnecessary’

Meeks New Reformers fundamental rights
Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chair of the Queens County Democratic Party, said a motion by the New Reformers faction of the party calling on future candidates to pledge to protect fundamental rights is “simply unnecessary.” (QNS/File)

Congressman Gregory Meeks, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, dismissed an effort by the left-wing faction of the party known as the New Reformers, to make future endorsements contingent on candidates pledging to proactively protect voting, abortion and other fundamental rights.

During Monday’s meeting of the Executive Committee leadership of the QCDP, a motion was introduced by Zachariah Boyer, a district leader and member of the New Reformers, to ensure that any public, non-judicial candidate the Queens Democratic Party chooses to support in primary elections must sign a pledge that they will defend reproductive and voting rights, as well as any future fundamental rights that come under attack.

“Today we put forward a bare minimum pledge asking that if the county Democratic Party refuses to stay out of primary races, then the candidates whom the party endorses ought to agree to fight for rights that are under direct attack from the Republican Party as well as complacent Democrats,” Boyer said. “Our pledge asks candidates to commit to fighting, within their capacity and office, for abortion and access to reproductive healthcare, expanding voting rights, and proactively enshrining rights into law that will no doubt be under attack next.”

The motion for the pledge was supported by several district leaders who ran as New Reformers. However, Meeks and party leadership refused to put the motion to a vote, according to the New Reformers and Boyer said that Meeks would not sign the pledge and he didn’t think it was appropriate for other candidates to sign it.

“A pledge that restates the core values of both the national and Queens Democratic Party is simply unnecessary,” Meeks said Tuesday. “When voters go to the polls in support of candidates endorsed by the Democratic Organization of Queens, they can vote with the assurance that those candidates are committed to fighting for a better city, state and country for all.”

Boyer accused Meeks and the party leadership of not following parliamentary procedure.

“It’s disheartening that instead of following Robert’s Rules, the body was provided with a five-minute response from the chairman against the pledge followed by a rush asking for a motion to adjourn the meeting,” Boyer said, adding that several district leaders told him after the meeting that the pledge was a good idea that they would be open to discussing and supporting.

“It is critical that the Queens County Democratic Party — representing hundreds of thousands of women and people who can become pregnant and people whose right to vote would be at risk in any other state — come out firmly and clearly in support of the right to abortions and reproductive healthcare and the right to vote,” said Émilia Decaudin, district leader and member of the New Reformers. “Anything less of a red line on this issue is capitulating to right-wing forces and framing. I’m disappointed that the chair of the party did not express a willingness to set that red line; I’m not convinced that ‘playing these issues by ear’ will prevent repeats of past situations where Queens Democratic lawmakers voted against these kinds of protections.”

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