Tracking Duane’s Career

Written by NYPress on . Posted in News Our Town, News Our Town Downtown, News West Side Spirit, Our Town, Our Town Downtown, West Side Spirit.


-Compiled by Adel Manoukian

It’s impossible to fully summarize Tom Duane’s political career, which has spanned over 23 years, but we’ve identified some of the most notable moments along the way.

1989- After working as a Wall Street broker, among other professions, Tom Duane starts to volunteer for his local community board and eventually starts working for City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman. Duane runs against incumbent candidate Carol Greitzer for City Council but is defeated; Greitzer secures the Democratic line.

1991- Duane runs again for the City Council. On Aug. 7, Duane announces he is HIV positive. He goes on to beat Liz Abzug and Victor Del Mastro, becoming the nation’s first openly HIV-positive person elected to office. He and Antonio Pagan become the first two openly gay New York City council members.

1993- Local Law 44, co-sponsored by Duane, becomes law. The legislation prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants and applicants receiving Section 8 aid or other government-funded housing assistance.

Photo Courtesy of Tom Duane's office.

1994- Duane challenges Rep. Jerrold Nadler in the Democratic congressional primary, but Nadler wins re-election.

1997- The City Council unanimously passes the Chelsea 197-A plan, a community-initiated land use plan, which Duane had worked on for over a decade.

1998- Duane wins election to the New York state senate, becoming its first openly gay and HIV-positive member.

1999- Duane and City Council Member Christine Quinn, his former chief of staff, get arrested after leading a gay contingent trying to join the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They were demonstrating against an Irish-American group that banned a gay Irish contingent from participating in the parade.

2001- Duane first proposes the Marriage Equality Act in the New York state Senate. Sen. David A. Paterson co-sponsors it. Eighteen Democrats sign on as co-sponsors in 2007. It was voted down that same year.

2002- Duane helps lead the successful passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, known as SONDA.

2006- Duane helps lead the successful passage of Timothy’s Law, which includes the addition of mental health parity by insurance companies for all patients.

Duane at an Anti-Graffiti Rally in August 2009. Photo Courtesy of Tom Duane's office.

2009- Duane once again introduces the Marriage Equality Act to the Senate after it passes the Assembly, but the bill is defeated 38 to 24 that same year.

2011- After a decade of fighting for same sex marriage, the Marriage Equality Act was signed into law June 24, taking effect a month  later. “What this bill will do is say that we are family in a way that no other word can. And that word is marriage,” Duane reportedly said at the time.

2012- On June 4, Duane announces his retirement from the state senate. His last day in office will be Dec. 31.

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