Former New York City Council Speaker Calls Cynthia Nixon An “Unqualified Lesbian”

Sometimes, it's all in the framing.

Christine Quinn, the former Speaker of the New York City Council came out with a blistering attack on Cynthia Nixon, who yesterday entered the race to challenge New York Governor Andrew Cuomo:

Former New York City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn called newly announced gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon an “unqualified lesbian.” The comments came in an interview with the New York Post, in which Quinn also bashed Nixon—most famous for her role as Miranda on Sex and the City—for having endorsed Bill de Blasio over her in the 2013 Democratic mayoral primary race. “I’m surprised by this race. It’s a flight of fancy on her part,” Quinn, a supporter of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told the Post. “Cynthia Nixon was opposed to having a qualified lesbian become mayor of New York City. Now she wants to be an unqualified lesbian to be the governor of New York,”

Quinn, of course, is a Democrat who put aside her position as one of the top ranking officials in New York City government in what proved to be an ill-fated bid to become Mayor in a race that she ultimately lost to Bill DeBlasio in 2013.

Initially, the comments by Quinn caused quite the firestorm on Twitter and other social media, and led me to ask a question:

Ultimately, as I predicted, Quinn was forced to take to her Twitter feed to explain her comment:

Given that Quinn is both a Democrat and gay herself, the way she framed her comment certainly raised eyebrows. To be fair to Cuomo, there’s no indication that Quinn has any affiliation with his campaign or his Administration. Indeed, from an ideological point of view, it seems clear that she’s probably closer to Nixon ideologically than she is to Cuomo. Additionally, she does have a point when she says that Nixon doesn’t appear to have the qualifications to be Governor of the nation’s fifth largest state. It seems, though, that Quinn is still holding a grudge from losing the election in 2013 and the fact that Nixon did not support her

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. grumpy realist says:

    Oh great. High school cattiness, now extended until you’re 50.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    If I remember correctly, Nixon, who is a big DeBlasio supporter, acted as his surrogate in the campaign against Quinn. Because she was also a lesbian, she was able to get nasty in a way that would have been a turnoff if it came from DeBlasio himself. Nixon famously said something like “Being a Lesbian doesn’t automatically make Quinn qualified to be Mayor” and I suspect that’s what Quinn was referencing.

    As someone who lived in various parts of upstate NY for nearly 20 years, I think this speaks to the fact that NYC is the biggest small town in the world. Denizens there, from Mayor to the newspaper vendor, frequently have no clue about anything farther away than Newark and White Plains. Quinn appears typical here. I’m sure she thinks that “every New Yorker” is keenly aware of Nixon’s previous attacks, and I suspect it never even occurred to her that Twitter worked outside the metropolitan area.

    The first time I lived in NYS, my realization of just how isolated people from the 5 boroughs were was when Ed Koch, then NYC mayor and running to be governor, was asked why he hadn’t spent more time upstate and he commented that living in the “country” was a waste of time and the people there drove 20 minutes in a pickup truck just to buy a gingham dress or a Sears Roebuck suit. Even more incredibly, the NYC press didn’t think this was going to have much of an effect on his chances, because, well, what gingham dress wearing pickup truck driver wouldn’t be entranced to have the outsize mayor of New York City as their leader? As opposed to a guy talking about potholes and road repair?

  3. @MarkedMan:

    Yea I remember that comment from Koch. I also remember the 1977 Mayoral Primary when Koch and Cuomo were facing off and someone was sending out mailers telling people to “Vote for Cuomo not the Homo.”

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Classy. Was Koch even actually gay?

    FWIW, in my whole time there were only two statewide politicians that were a) smart and competent, and b) spent serious time upstate, learned about the issues, and then actually followed through and worked on those issues. Mario Cuomo and Hillary Clinton.

  5. KM says:

    You’d be surprised by how many people in an in-group use out-group slurs when they are trying to hurt. Think about women who call each other bitch or see-you-next-Tuesdays, AA’s who break out the n-word or and gays who slap queer or homo back into the insult category. Hell, even poor people whip out white trash as a slur while totally qualifying themselves. Minorities groups have spent their whole lives with these terms as insults and understand their power. Sometimes they slip out unintentionally due to years of conditioning and internal categorization – other times, they’re used as a precise strike. You know what you are – don’t get any airs.

    Quinn didn’t mistype. She knew what she was saying. She could have just said “unqualified” but nope, she just had to toss that little shade in there.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: OK, I give up. What does “see-you-next-Tuesdays” mean?

  7. @MarkedMan:

    Yes Koch was gay and, while it wasn’t really openly discussed at the time it also wasn’t much of an issue. He ultimately acknowledged it publicly shortly before his death.

  8. @MarkedMan:

    Cuomo and Clinton were both smart but also flawed. In Cuomo’s case, there was a certain arrogance about the man that was one of the main reasons he ultimately lost his bid for a historic fourth term as Governor to George Pataki. Had he run in 1992, I’m not so sure he would have beaten Bush 41 the way Clinton did regardless of whether or not Perot got into the race or not.

  9. Reminds me of what Chuck Hagel said about Clinton ambassador being aggressively gay

  10. Joe says:

    There’s a third way Quinn “could” have meant it – as an unmitigated lesbian, just like an unqualified disaster or an unqualified success. But, . . . I don’t think that was where she was going.

  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:


    It’s actually “C U Next Tuesday”…& if you can discern the acronym….

  12. de stijl says:

    Nixon, herself, says she identifies as bi-sexual, not lesbian.

  13. Kathy says:

    if you’re a Democrat, you know you’ve blown it big time if your attack on an opponent sounds as though it came from a religious right Republican.

  14. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Oh great. High school cattiness, now extended until you’re 50.

    50? You should have met my grandmother, a woman of exceptionally sharp wit and tongue well into her early 80s.

    Once, at a family get-together, my grandfather’s sister came along using a walker. Grandma was of the opinion her sister-in-law was playing it up for attention, and turned to my wife and me, saying “Oh, there’s Ruth. She enjoys poor health.” Ouch.

  15. Kylopod says:

    I’m actually not quite sure what Quinn meant, but if I were to hazard a guess, maybe it was along the lines of the Geraldine Ferraro comment during the 2008 Democratic primaries, when she said, “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”

    This was an absurd remark, because while it’s true Obama benefited in some ways from the milestone of potentially becoming the first African American president, it overlooks the the numerous barriers that black politicians have long faced. Before Obama, no previous black person had ever come close to capturing the nomination of either party, let alone winning the presidency. That’s not a coincidence.

    So maybe Quinn is saying effectively that the only notable thing about Nixon is that she’s a celebrity and a lesbian (or bi, as it turns out). The fact that Quinn is also a lesbian doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of stating something clueless and insensitive about her own group, just as Ferraro was willing to frame Obama’s rise in terms of her own womanhood. The remark may not be quite as homophobic as it sounds when you first hear it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insulting to gay people, and Quinn’s own orientation doesn’t take away from that.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I’m telling ya, there’s no need to speculate as to what she meant. When she ran for Mayor against DeBlasio, he sent Nixon out as his attack dog and she said of Quinn, “Simply being a Lesbian doesn’t make her qualified to be mayor”. It seems Quinn has been waiting to make that comeback for years. She says as much in her follow on, explanatory tweet.

  17. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan: When did she say that? I did a Google search and couldn’t find that quote or anything similar. (I found a quote along those lines about Annise Parker, recent mayor of Houston, but nothing relating to New York.)

  18. JDM says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    That is the polite interpretation of :

  19. Facebones says:

    Quinn has only herself to blame that she’s not mayor right now. She was the front runner until she a) backed Bloomberg in his push to get rid of term limits so he could run for a third term and b) opposed the sick leave bill that made employers give all employees sick days. Democratic voters in the primary didn’t buy her “progressive” act after that.

  20. John430 says:

    Pray, tell. What is an unqualified lesbian? Is there a finals exam or something to get certified or qualified??

  21. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    It’s sorta along the lines of “John43o is an unqualified commenter.” Grammatically, it’s not incorrect but in some cases what the speaker means can be misinterpreted. Sometimes even deliberately misinterpreted.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: I also cannot find the quote. What I do know and was able to easily verify was that Cynthia Nixon served as Bill DeBlasios outreach to the LGBT community when he ran against her in 2013, and there was a lot of ill will between them. Quinn has a reputation for being a street fighter and holding grudges. I remember there was a fair amount of press and discussion at the time about whether Nixon was “betraying” another lesbian by attacking her so hard. Nixon was quite skillful at navigating this. For example, she heard Alec Baldwin on a talk show saying that he was finding it hard to support Quinn and was leaning towards DeBlasio. Nixon wrote him a personal note encouraging him to back DeBlasio and he replied by saying he had foolishly assumed Nixon would support Quinn because they were both lesbians. Nixon used her reply as a chance to talk about how the LGBT community didn’t need to support someone simply because of their orientation and so on, then asked Baldwin for permission to take the whole exchange public. It was a very politically astute way to handle it and, according to the rumor mill, drove Quinn up the wall.

    As for the quote, I swear I remember it, but it’s possible it was someone else talking about the Quinn/Nixon kefluffle at the time that made the comment. When I posted that comment above, I thought I had confirmed the quote via NYMag, but in rereading that article it was an awkwardly phrased comment from the writer that I took to be confirmation of my memory. So – I withdraw and retire to the kitchen to start making crow pie.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    @Mikey: Ah, but that’s wit, as opposed to high-school snippishness.

    (My problem with the term “unqualified lesbian” is that it immediately brings to mind the term “qualified lesbian.” It isn’t something that I thought you had to take quals for….)

  24. John430 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Of course it’s deliberately misinterpreted. It sounded “unfunny” to your ilk because SJWs have no sense of humor except when it comes to bashing conservatives, Jews, Christians and mainstream women.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @John430: For the record I thought your comment was mildly funny and I even considered upvoting it (it has received one upvote as of now). Unfortunately, you haven’t demonstrated the credibility that would enable you to be given the benefit of the doubt on humor related to this subject. For example, your response to the transgender bathroom issue was “Perverts hanging around waiting for little girls and rowdy teens crashing in? No thanks.”

    Just like when Bush made the WMD joke, you need to consider who is making a joke. Some people, through their actions, forfeit the right to make certain jokes. (And just to be clear, in using the term “right” I am not implying your joke lacks constitutional protection.)

    As for the SJWs-with-no-sense-of-humor meme, you don’t want to go there. There’s a reason there are so few successful conservative comedians, or why the Fox News knockoff of The Daily Show was such a failure. You can sometimes beat us in elections, but you’ll never beat us in (intentional) comedy. (Unintentional’s another story.)

  26. Steph says:

    A few top lines:
    1. It’s spelled de Blasio, not De Blasio (unless at the start of a sentence).
    2. Quinn does have an official tie to Cuomo, she served as a Senior Advisor in 2015 and is Vice Chair of the State Dem Party. Which Cuomo leads.
    3. NY is the 4th largest state in the country, by population. Unless you count GDP, then it’s the third largest.
    Did you do literally any research for this “article?”