Borough President Markowitz has declined a gay Democratic club’s invitation to herald the positives of the Atlantic Yards project at a forum later this month, and, while he’s there, explain why he supported a notoriously homophobic Borough Park politician in his race for a Civil Court seat, telling the president of the group in an e-mail, “I have little interest in becoming someone’s punching bag.”
Markowitz had been invited to speak at the Lambda Independent Democrats forum on Oct. 22 after asking club leaders for a private meeting at which he could explain his endorsement of homophobic former City Councilman Noach Dear for the judgeship.
“I called you about the [Noach] Dear endorsement because I have, for all my years in public service, been a strong supporter of the LGBT community,” read Markowitz’s Sept. 18 e-mail to LID Co-President Christopher Murray. “My call to you had nothing to do with Atlantic Yards, which is a totally different subject, and I have little interest in becoming someone’s punching bag.”
He already is, alas.
Markowitz has been in hot water with the gay community ever he endorsed Dear in the Democratic primary for the Civil Court judgeship. Dear, who won the primary, is widely reviled in the gay community for his opposition to the landmark 1986 “gay rights” bill and for some anti-gay comments he made during his 18 years in City Council.
The City Bar Association also rated him unqualified for the Civil Court job.
After Markowitz endorsed Dear, Democratic District Leader Alan Fleishman, a LID board member, told The Brooklyn Paper that the gay community had “universal disdain” for Markowitz.
Fleishman said the invitation to the Oct. 22 forum should not be construed as an olive branch, but rather as an opportunity for Markowitz to explain himself in public.
“Marty had requested that we have a private meeting,” said Fleishman. “We decided as a club that we didn’t want to discuss it in private, and that we were planning on inviting him to a forum to discuss Atlantic Yards.”
Murray said he would reach out again to Markowitz, despite his initial refusal to appear at the public forum.
“In all fairness, tempers were running high on all sides near the primary, and it’s my responsibility to follow up with him,” said Murray, who forwarded Markowitz’s email to the 25-member LID board. A source in the club read the e-mail to The Brooklyn Paper.
“We hope to have a representative from his office, if the borough president is unable to attend,” added Murray.
That representative would be asked to present the pros of the controversial Atlantic Yards project. Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), a fiery opponent of the project, will present the downsides of the $4-billion, publicly subsidized, 16-skyscraper arena, residential, commercial, hotel, office space and retail complex.
Markowitz did not respond to The Brooklyn Paper’s request for comment.