Duane leaves big (enormous) shoes to fill in the state Senate

State Senator Tom Duane was this year’s recipient of the Little Missionary’s Day Nursery’s Sara Curry Award, named after the St. Mark’s Place school’s founder. The award was presented to him by Eileen Johnson, the school’s director, left, and actress Rachel Weisz.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  State Senator Tom Duane shocked the New York political world when, earlier this month, he announced he would not seek re-election this year.

At a June 4 press conference, Duane said it was a difficult decision that he only reached after much careful thought and deliberation.

“I was first elected to the state Senate in 1998 and I’ve worked hard to represent all the people of my Manhattan district for the past 14 years,” Duane said. “But 14 years is a long time in Albany, and I have decided it is time for a new chapter in my life.

“When I first was elected to the Senate, I was told that an openly gay, openly H.I.V.-positive man would accomplish little in a highly partisan and conservative state Senate. I took it as a challenge and was energized by it. And 14 years later we proved the naysayers wrong,” he said, referring to New York State’s legalization of gay marriage last year.

“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,” Duane said.

“However, my greatest satisfaction comes from bills like my Sex-Trafficking Victims Second Chance Act, which never grabbed headlines but changed the lives of some of New York’s most vulnerable residents for the better. That is the reason I entered public service and I have never lost sight of that fact.

“But New York City, not Albany, is my home and it is where the next chapter of my life will begin,” Duane said. “That chapter will not be written, however, until my term ends on Dec. 31 of this year. There is still much work to be done and I feel it is my obligation to remain firmly focused on the present.

“And on Jan. 1, while I may no longer be a senator, I will continue to be an activist and an advocate. I will hold those positions for life.”

Candidates seeking to succeed Duane include his choice, Brad Hoylman, Community Board 2 chairperson; Tom Greco, owner of Hells Kitchen’s Ritz L.G.B.T. bar; and activist Tanika Inlaw.