Pro-LGBT Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston Will Not Seek Re-election

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mayormeninoBy: Christine Nicco*/TRT Reporter–

BOSTON, Mass. –Long-time Mayor and LGBT supporter, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, announced Thursday he would not seek a record sixth term as mayor of the city of Boston.

In a recent radio interview with WBUR Boston’s NPR, Menino stated “I never thought I would end up here. … It may not be the only way to leave Boston, but it’s the only way for me. So, I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love that I will leave the job that I love,” Menino said to WBUR and to endless applause from the listeners. [pullquote]In a recent radio interview with WBUR Boston’s NPR, Menino stated “I never thought I would end up here. … It may not be the only way to leave Boston, but it’s the only way for me. So, I am here with the people I love, to tell the city I love that I will leave the job that I love,” Menino said to WBUR and to endless applause from the listeners. [/pullquote]

“… I’ll find a way to thank all of you and to celebrate together, but first we still have much work to do. … I do plan to stay very engaged in Boston’s future. I am not retiring, but just turning one page from this chapter to the next. I have no plans to pick the person to fill this seat. I just ask that you choose someone who loves this city as much as I do.”

With those words and the reactions of an emotional crowd, Mayor Menino bid adieu to his Mayor’s position. His announcement also brought reactions from several local organizations.

MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini offered the following statement in response:

“Mayor Menino has been the most pro-LGBTQ mayor in the nation’s history. And unlike many politicians who keep their support for our community in step with public opinion, Mayor Menino has been with us from the start. He was an early supporter of marriage equality. He was an early supporter of transgender equality. He was an early supporter of programs addressing public health needs related to HIV/AIDS. And he has never been shy about using his office as a bully pulpit to encourage other political leaders to do the same.

“In some ways, it’s appropriate that Mayor Menino’s news comes during the same week that the United States Supreme Court is hearing two historic cases on marriage equality. While Mayor Menino has staked out a legacy that touches on everything from public education, health and safety, to the delivery of municipal services, there can be no doubt he holds a place in history as a leader in the marriage equality movement. He spoke out early and often in favor of the rights of same-sex couples to marry, modeling for other political leaders in the state and nationwide how to embrace the issue. And when the entire world was watching Boston City Hall on May 17, 2004 as same-sex couples streamed to the City Clerk’s office to fill out applications to marry, his administration ensured both their safety and their dignity. [pullquote]He spoke out early and often in favor of the rights of same-sex couples to marry, modeling for other political leaders in the state and nationwide how to embrace the issue. And when the entire world was watching Boston City Hall on May 17, 2004 as same-sex couples streamed to the City Clerk’s office to fill out applications to marry, his administration ensured both their safety and their dignity.[/pullquote]

“Last year, MassEquality honored Mayor Menino as a political icon during our inaugural Icon Awards, which recognize those who have been more than just allies to the LGBTQ community, but champions. Just this past Tuesday, we were delighted to have the Mayor participate in the DOMA justice rally on City Hall Plaza, over which he had instructed the City to fly the rainbow pride flag in honor of the historic Supreme Court hearings on Prop 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Throughout his political career, which started in 1984 when he first took elected office as a district city councilor from Hyde Park, Mayor Menino has been a champion of equality and a symbol of what others should aspire to in their support of the LGBTQ community. We are inspired by his leadership, grateful for his service and wish him luck with his future pursuits.”

For her part, Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action President & CEO also shared her thoughts about Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s announcement that he will not seek re-election:

“From the start of his political career, Mayor Menino has pushed for services for people living with HIV and AIDS and he has been an outspoken advocate on their behalf. From his first term in office as a district city councilor from Hyde Park, he approached the issue of how to deal with AIDS with an open mind, unlike so many other politicians from that time.

“In the mid-1980s, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, City Councilor Menino advocated employing 24 full-time outreach workers in the city of Boston to educate intravenous drug users about the risk of AIDS.  This was cutting edge public policy at the time.  He also insisted on two community health vans to be deployed to at-risk neighborhoods to provide general health education as well as AIDS prevention information and on increasing the availability of drug treatment programs.  He also pushed to implement a needle exchange program in the city.

“When he became Mayor in 1993, the city finally implemented many of the elements of the plan Menino had so boldly proposed nearly a decade earlier: a needle exchange program, outreach workers, and public education around HIV/AIDS. He also hired John Auerbach, another hero in the fight against AIDS, to direct the city’s response to AIDS as head of the Boston Public Health Commission. These strategies have saved thousands of lives over the years.

“In 2001, Mayor Menino raised money to help pay for a liver transplant for Belynda Dunn, a longtime employee of AIDS Action Committee who was a leading HIV educator in the city’s African American community. Dunn had been denied payment for a transplant by her health insurer because of she was HIV positive.

“Today, even as public attention to AIDS has waned; Mayor Menino has continued to speak out about the ongoing need to provide services for the growing numbers of those who are living with HIV in Massachusetts. There can be no doubt that the political leadership on HIV/AIDS shown by Mayor Menino throughout the entirety of the epidemic, and his insistence on implementing public education, prevention, and outreach about HIV, has contributed significantly to the Commonwealth’s status as a leader in the country in lowering rates of HIV transmission and the improved health of those living with HIV.”

MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. MassEquality does this by partnering across issues, identities and communities to build a broad, inclusive and politically powerful movement that changes hearts and minds and achieves policy and electoral victories.

AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. Learn more at www.aac.org.

[From a TRT Report and a News Release]