Sen. Tom Duane today announced he will not seek an eight term in the New York Senate, where he is the first and only openly LGBT person to serve. In a message to supporters, Duane said he has decided to stay in New York City and focus on the “next chapter” in his life, rather than continuing to commute to Albany for legislative sessions. He also wrote about his record of accomplishment:
When I first was elected to the Senate people told me it was a foolish career choice. I was told that an openly gay, openly HIV-positive man would accomplish little in a highly partisan and conservative State Senate. I was not discouraged by this talk; I took it as a challenge and was energized by it. And 14 years later we proved the naysayers wrong. The track record speaks for itself and every success was done in a bi-partisan fashion.
The Marriage Equality Act, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), the Dignity for All Students Act, comprehensive hate crime legislation and the Family Health Care Decisions Act are all major accomplishments that I am proud to have had a major role in, and I am grateful for all the help I had — from so many advocates, activists and other elected officials — in getting these laws passed.
Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute, said Duane’s legacy as an out leader isn’t confined to New York. ”Tom Duane isn’t just a champion for the people of his district and for LGBT New Yorkers across the state. He’s also been a leader among the growing network of openly LGBT elected officials around the world, and not just through his sterling example as a legislator. Tom has encouraged the next generation of LGBT leaders to become part of the public debate, to run for and win elective office. He will leave Albany having achieved remarkable victories, but with many more likely to come.”
Duane will serve until the end of his current term on December 31.