DNC: Retiring state senator bids adieu, pep-talks Dems

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Tom Duane accepts award. Tom Duane accepts award. Photo Credit: Dan Janison

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State Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan), leading gay-rights advocate, who is not seeking re-election, spoke with New York delegates at the DNC.

He pricked up ears by declaring that back in 1982 when Gov. Mario Cuomo was first elected he ran for party district leader on the slogan “Vote for Cuomo AND the homo.”

That's a reference to some ancient New York campaign history -- the posters in the 1977 mayoral campaign in Queens that said "Vote for Cuomo not the Homo" -- a reference for which apologies have since been made to ex-mayor Ed Koch, who won that race. In the year Duane referenced, 1982, the elder Cuomo first won the governorship after beating Koch in a primary.

But in thanking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and some Republicans, on same-sex marriage, he struck a sincere emotional tone. When he was running for AG, Cuomo asked to meet with Duane. They had a three-hour dinner.

“There were tears,” he said. “I take responsibility for mine and will not say anything else . . . We have a governor with a heart as big as the Democratic Party.”

Duane also gave gushing praise to his longtime close ally Christine Quinn, the NYC Council speaker running for mayor next year, who is also here and spoke, as did one of her rivals Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Candidate Bill Thompson is also here.

“Thanks for letting this left-wing nut be part of your party,” Duane said flippantly.

“It is the Democratic Party that stood with us,” added Assemb. Daniel O'Donnell, also of Manhattan, who along with Duane was given an award. As is always included in his public profile, he's the brother of Rosie O'Donnell.

“Not one straight person in America has had anything bad happen to them because I now have a marriage license,” he said.

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