Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Justice and History at City Hall

A certain justice will be done on July 24 at City Hall in Syracuse. City Hall marks the intersection of Ann Marie Buerkle's brief anti-gay history in Syracuse politics with a great leap forward for the march for equality for all people.

July 24 is the date in New York State when same-sex marriages licenses become available all across the state. There will be a celebration at City Hall!

Here is a brief history of Buerkle's short tenure on the Syracuse Common Council for those who don't know it. 

Contrary to what Sarah Palin said in her endorsement of Ann Marie Buerkle last summer, Buerkle was appointed, not elected, to her only other political position.

She became a counselor-at-large on the Syracuse Common Council on January 31, 1994, to fill a vacant seat.
The vote was not unanimous.

Rick Guy, Miles Bottrill, Edward Carni,  Susann Panick and  [Councilor] Cowan voted for her.

This was the era of the polarizing politics of Rick Guy, a man who got his religion mixed up with his politics in a most dangerous way. Extremist views on many issues, religious values seeping into civic matters ... it was a time that Syracuse people of heart do not look back on with joy

Vicki Mannion, Karen Uplinger, Charles Anderson and [Councilor] McCarthy voted "no" on Buerkle's appointment.

This was 5 years after Buerkle's "blackened foetus" cameo at Planned Parenthood in Syracuse.

 Buerkle's next most famous attempt to embarrass herself came In early May of her year on the Council, when she tried to impose her religious values on city residents by joining up with Guy against a resolution for the city to recognize by proclamation Saturday, June 18 1994 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Day. Guy and Buerkle were in imminent danger of losing, so Guy objected to taking the vote and the resolution was tabled until the next meeting.

The battle was bitter. The antis whipped up a frenzy of fear and loathing among fundamentalists and aging Catholics, with petition and letter-writing campaigns targeting counselors who might be on the fence. Remember that HIV-AIDS was still very much a polarizing issue and Texas could still tell you what you could and could not do in your bedroom.

Later in the month the Syracuse Common Council voted 5 to 4 against "recognizing Saturday June 18, 1994, as Gay and Lesbian Pride Day in the City of Syracuse".

Voting yes were McCarty, Mannion, Uplinger and Anderson.

Voting no were Guy, Buerkle, Cowin, Bottrill and Carni.

Buerkle and Rick Guy united on several more fronts, including a December 1994 attempt at a curfew for minors. They were defeated.

Buerkle was not elected when she tried to retain her Common Council seat, so she was gone in January 1995, less that a year after her appointment.  

Fortunately, except for an unsuccessful run for NYS Assembly last year, replete with robocalls and disinformation, Rick Guy has disappeared from the public policy front.

Activists will never forgive Guy and Buerkle.  That year in the history of Syracuse had a galvanizing effect on progressives.

So, on July 24 celebrate like a rock star at City Hall!!!!

Blueskygirl bets Ann Marie Buerkle and Rick Guy will not be there. Ha.

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