Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , March 22, 2013
Image from nydailynews.com
On Wednesday, New York City’s Mayoral Candidates gathered at Baruch College for a forum organized by some of the city’s leading LGBT organizations. The room was filled long before the scheduled 7pm start time, with candidates Comptroller John Liu, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, former comptroller Bill Thompson, and former City Council member Sal Albanese, as well as a plethora of residents, activists, protestors, and supporters of each candidate.
Surprisingly or not, the candidates agreed on number of issues, including the need to stop the “Condoms as Evidence” criminalization practice, the NYPD’s incredibly problematic “Stop-and-Frisk” policy (which is currently on trial), as well as pressing the State Legislature to pass the much-needed 30% rent cap for people living with HIVAIDS that was fiercely fought by Bloomberg.
In addition, all of the candidates agreed that funding for the city’s HIV/AIDS prevention and education should be increased—truly a change from the current Administration—and that the city’s escalating homeless population was unacceptable. In particular, they agreed that setting aside $12 million for homelessness programs, including queer youth programs, should be standardized and increased each year through a permanent line in the city’s annual budget.
However, where the candidates did colorfully disagree was when discussing the paid-sick leave proposal. Candidates Liu, de Blasio, Thompson, and Albanese all reaffirmed their support for the proposal before the City Council, while Quinn said that she supported the idea of paid sick leave, but not the bill in its current form. (In its current iteration, the legislation would require businesses with 20 or more employees to give each person 9 paid sick days a year; businesses with 5 to 19 employees would be required to offer 5 paid sick days per year).
And as many news outlets reported, Quinn’s response was met with boos from the audience, and Candidate Thompson castigated her for her position, stating, “Speaker Quinn, you need to stop blocking this bill right now.”
Quinn’s stance on the paid sick leave has drawn the ire of many women’s groups as well as women’s activist Gloria Steinem, who is leading a campaign to pass the legislation.
In addition to women, who Steinem identified as “typically shoulder[ing] the burden of caring for sick children and because they are overrepresented in low-wage industries where workers often are not paid or are fired for absence,” the paid sick leave legislation would also positively benefit workers living with HIV/AIDS, a population who is more likely to have jobs where they do not have paid sick days.
Clearly, the fight for paid-sick leave legislation, as well as NYC’s next mayor, is far from over.
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