In case you haven’t heard, actress and activist Cynthia Nixon is running for governor of New York. And while Nixon’s long history of political involvement has made many excited to see her enter the realm of politics, not everyone is super thrilled. On March 20th, New York politician Christine Quinn called Nixon an “unqualified lesbian” in response to news of the Sex and the City star’s campaign.
Quinn, who ran for mayor of New York City in 2013 and is herself openly gay, told the New York Post that Nixon doesn’t have what it takes to be governor.
Nixon opposed Quinn during the 2013 mayoral race, instead campaigning on behalf of Quinn’s rival in the Democratic primary, Bill de Blasio. Quinn is a supporter of current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is more moderate than de Blasio and whom Nixon will challenge in the primary race this year.
The actress responded to Quinn’s comments by saying, “Her being a lesbian and my being a lesbian” was not the issue. Rather, she told the Post, the race should focus on “corruption in Albany.”
On Twitter, Quinn clarified that she hadn’t meant to criticize Nixon because of her identity, only meaning to draw a comparison between the two women.
Quinn’s remark does highlight a valid criticism of Nixon — she has never held political office and could be considered unqualified. However, as Nixon said, her sexual orientation has nothing to do with her capability to serve as governor of New York, and Quinn should not have mentioned it. And Quinn’s claim that Nixon didn’t want to see a “qualified lesbian” become mayor of New York City is misleading. In 2013, Nixon told The New York Times that she didn’t have a problem with Quinn personally; she simply disagreed with Quinn’s stance on the issues.
No matter how tongue-in-cheek Quinn intended her comment to be, the fact is that it ignored Nixon’s actual platform and reduced her to a sexual identity (which Nixon herself has said is more complicated than the word “lesbian” implies). Let’s use this as a reminder to stick to what’s important here — the candidates’ actual views.