How much do gays and lesbians despise Civil Court judicial candidate Noach Dear? One group of queer activists actually considered endorsing Dear’s Republican-Conservative opponent this week.
Dear and his opponent for the Fifth District Civil Court seat, James McCall, were invited to a candidate’s debate by the Lambda Independent Democrats — but only McCall accepted the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender club’s invitation.
It was the first time that a Republican had sought the club’s endorsement, McCall said. And despite his Republican-Conservative credentials, he vowed to “treat everyone fairly” in his courtroom if elected to the seat, which covers all of Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Dyker Heights as well as parts of Windsor Terrace, Bensonhurst, Kensington and Borough Park, Dear’s political base.
“No one in this room has any reason to worry that I won’t be fair,” McCall said. “You can have confidence in me — and you can’t have confidence in my opponent. If I’m the 800-pound gorilla in the room, [Dear] is King Kong.”
Gay and lesbian antipathy towards Dear dates back to his days in the City Council, where the Borough Park legislator staunchly opposed a 1986 bill that expanded the city’s sex discrimination code to protect homosexuals.
During the bruising battle leading up to the bill’s passage, Dear argued, among other things, that the law “would confer official legitimacy on a sexual orientation that is universally agreed upon as a deviant behavior.”
After the bill was passed, Dear even spearheaded a failed effort to overturn it.
His record is also marred by corruption, according to the Village Voice, which reported in August that when Dear ran for Congress a few years ago, his campaign staff forged 47 sequentially numbered money orders in other people’s names to hide a donation of $40,000, which was then 20 times the legal limit.
He was the only judicial candidate in the Democratic primary who was ruled “not approved” by the city bar association.
Nonetheless, Dear was endorsed by Borough President Markowitz and the county party boss, Assemblyman Vito Lopez — and gay activists say that both men will pay for that support in future elections.
This week, Markowitz again defended his endorsement.
“Noach Dear wrote to me [and] he assured me that, ‘As a judge, I will be fair, evenhanded, and compassionate, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. I will extend dignity and respect to each person who appears in my courtroom,’” Markowitz said in a statement.
The statement also said that Dear added, “I hope to validate the trust you and others have placed in me.”
Dear has not returned repeated calls from The Brooklyn Paper throughout the race for Civil Court.
McCall had the floor to himself on Monday night at the Lambda meeting, where he touted credentials that include serving for four years as a court attorney to a sitting Civil Court judge. In that role, he has done legal research, written decisions and even “gotten the judge coffee — though sometimes he gets the coffee,” he joked.
After listening to McCall’s promise to be fair, several politicos called for Lambda to make history by endorsing the Republican.
“Here is a chance to tell Dear that he has been so vile in his homophobia that we will support a Republican to defeat him,” said Ralph Perfetto, a district leader from Bay Ridge.
Perfetto’s argument did not win the day, however. In a closed session, other club members argued that endorsing a Republican would set a bad precedent, according to several club members who were at the session.
“There was a strong feeling in the room that the GOP is still the party of Bush and Pataki, the party that has villainized gay and lesbian people for years,” said Alan Fleishman, a club member and district leader from Park Slope. “That said, people did like McCall and thought he would be a competant judge.”
In the end, the club put out a hand-wringing statement.
“We feel that Noach Dear’s lack of courtroom experience and bar associations’ assessments and his past statements and actions against the interests of our community deem him an unsuitable candidate for the Civil Court bench,” LID co-President Christopher Murray said in a statement. “We continue to be disappointed in the leadership of the Democratic party of Brooklyn over [its] support of his candidacy.”
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