Transgender people are “he, she, or it” and “some guy in a dress” to former mayor and presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg, according to comments he made in 2019 that were revealed last week, and San Francisco LTBGQ groups are not having it.
But after several Democratic clubs called on Mayor London Breed to rescind her endorsement of Bloomberg in a San Francisco Examiner editorial Monday, Breed penned a letter — obtained by this columnist — staunchly defending Bloomberg’s record on LGBTQ rights.
“I believe Mayor Bloomberg’s record on LGBTQ issues is quite strong,” Breed wrote to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club on Feb. 24.
Despite the defense, Breed said she shared concerns about his comments, which were unearthed by Buzzfeed, and added, “I intend to raise my concerns with Mayor Bloomberg directly.”
Just how and when she’d do that, Breed’s former campaign manager Maggie Muir did not tell me when I emailed her about it Friday.
The Toklas club, alongside the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the San Francisco Young Democrats, called on Mayor Breed to rescind her endorsement of Bloomberg considering not only his recent disparaging comments against the transgender community, but his history expanding stop and frisk as mayor of New York City. He also sued to deny domestic partner benefits and appealed to stop gay marriages in New York — successfully — the groups noted.
Yeah, that ain’t gonna fly in progressive San Francisco, yet Breed endorsed Bloomberg anyhow.
Now, she’s doubling down.
In her letter to the Toklas club, Breed touted Bloomberg’s signature on a gender identity non-discrimination law early in his tenure as a New York City mayor (which, he signed it? he didn’t write it? big whoop), said helped to “reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness,” and officiated a same-sex wedding the first day they were legal in New York, in his defense.
Those aren’t exactly stunning civil rights wins.
Hell, in San Francisco, I’d call those a “Monday.” State Sen. Scott Wiener probably did more to help the LGBTQ community last week before he ate breakfast.
Breed added, “My support for the LGTBQ community is unconditional and unwavering,” and touted some very real gains she herself led for the community here in San Francisco. OK, fair enough London, but he ain’t you!
I’ve got deja vu on this whole thing, too — this isn’t the first time Breed has endorsed a candidate that was later revealed to have made transphobic statements.
In 2018 she endorsed school board candidate Josephine Zhao. It made sense, strategically: Zhao enjoyed a large following in the local Chinese community, a very helpful constituency for a mayor to have as allies. But Zhao also said allowing transgender folks acces to the bathroom that conforms with their gender identity would lead to “rape,” and the same LGBT groups called on Breed to rescind her endorsement then, too.
Zhao later apologized for the comment publicly, but privately told people — in Cantonese — that she wasn’t giving an honest apology, and only gave one to appease the English-speaking community.
Breed didn’t back down on Zhao, even after her duplicity was brought to light.
Even Wiener, who staunchly defended Zhao all along the way, rescinded his endorsement of her after it was revealed she didn’t fully back her own apology. (That’s two relatively positive things I’ve said about Scott in one column. I must need coffee).
So why did Breed endorse Bloomberg anyhow? He’s got nearly no support in San Francisco writ large — most elected officials here have endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and polls show California leaning toward Bernie in a big way.
Sure, Breed has touted Bloomberg’s success on a number of issues, but a New York Times article released in December last year lays out a much simpler case. Its headline reads, “‘Mayors for Mike’: How Bloomberg’s Money Built a 2020 Political Network.” It details a number of grants and other gifts to locals across the United States, where, surprise surprise, mayors then endorse Bloomberg.
Locally, Bloomberg spent beaucoup bucks to knock out JUUL’s measure to fight a e-cigarette ban, and he shelled out simoleons aplenty to beat back Big Soda when they sought to overturn the sugary beverage tax in the Bay Area. He’s made his San Francisco investment, and one could argue that it’s now paying off.
This whole entanglement is particularly thorny for Breed because the Toklas club is a long-standing ally of the moderate Democrat camp in San Francisco. While they haven’t always been on her side, these are Breed’s people.
Democratic clubs like Alice play a vital role in the local political machine, drumming up votes, giving much-sought-after endorsements, and allowing future politicos a place to cut their teeth out of the limelight.
Recognizing the need to keep friendly with the Toklas club, then, Breed wrote in her letter, “words matter. Without question, words matter. What you say in private or at a public forum has impact. You and I are both concerned about Mayor Bloomberg’s comments, and I expect him to address our concerns thoughtful and promptly.”
The Toklas club’s leadership, to their credit, felt Breed didn’t go far enough. Ally or not, they held her accountable.
“We are dismayed that Mayor Breed continues to endorse a candidate with this record of prejudice, who has very recently made hateful remarks similar to those of President Trump and his officials,” Alice Toklas club co-chairs Catie Arbona and David Fuijimoto wrote to me in statement. “For the past four years, decent Americans have resisted the GOP’s attacks on immigrants and communities of color, women, LGBTQ people, and other vulnerable communities. The Democratic Party, particularly in San Francisco, has stood against these attacks; Mayor Bloomberg, in his career as a politician and candidate, has not.”
They added, “To see Mayor Breed continue to support his candidacy is deeply disappointing, and not in line with San Francisco’s values.”
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.