By Liam Reilly and Rob Frehse and Nicki Brown, CNN
Four LGBTQ groups say they will boycott New York City’s June 7 pride reception, citing Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to hire what the groups say are two anti-LGBTQ faith advisers, the groups announced in a joint statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.
The four New York-based LGBTQ groups — Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Stonewall Democrats of NYC, Equality New York and Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens — emphasized their boycott was due to the mayor’s appointment of pastor Fernando Cabrera as senior adviser for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships and pastor Erick Salgado as assistant commissioner for immigrant affairs.
The joint statement describes the two are anti-LGBTQ pastors, yet does not elaborate on why. The statement says the groups take issue with Cabrera because of his “connection to the anti-LGBTQ” group Alliance Defending Freedom, which they say aims to restrict queer rights both nationally and abroad. Meanwhile, the joint statement describes Salgado as “another anti-LGBTQ pastor.”
CNN found that in 2016 Salgado tweeted that then-NYC-Mayor Bill de Blasio, “wants you to allow your daughters to share the bathroom with a transgendered. Shame on him.”
CNN has reached out to Cabrera and Salgado for comment but has not heard back.
In February, Cabrera said in a Facebook post that he was “deeply sorry for the undue pain and suffering that my past remarks have caused the LGBTQ+ community.” He provided context, touting his work denouncing anti-gay hate crimes and voting in favor of bills while in the city council that support LGBTQ+ rights.
Salgado also released a statement after his appointment in February saying that his “views have evolved as society has evolved. As MOIA Assistant Commissioner, my mission will be to lift up immigrant communities across our city, including LGBTQ+ immigrants, who often face barriers to accessing needed services.”
In a statement to CNN, the Alliance Defending Freedom says it is “among the largest and most effective legal advocacy organizations dedicated to protecting the religious freedom and free speech rights of all Americans,” saying the LGBTQ groups’ criticisms are based on a “defamatory label” on its organization that originated from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The joint statement also emphasizes that “Mayor Adams’s only interests are his own and prioritizing the needs of the policing and surveillance institutions in the city at the expense of investments into education, mental health, community health, and LGBTQ services.” It also notes that the mayor has “tested the boundaries of the LGBTQ community to see where he can overstep — including who he can afford to disregard for the sake of his own interests.”
A fifth LGBTQ group, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, previously announced it would not attend the reception. Allen Roskoff, the organization’s president said on May 26 that the group declined to attend the event. He said that Adams has been “a letdown” for the LGBTQ community, emphasizing that his administration has done little for the LGBTQ community.
The reception is scheduled to be held at Gracie Mansion, the official residence for New York City mayors, where Adams resides.
Adams says Cabrera and Salgado apologized for previous remarks
Adams was asked in a February news conference about Cabrera’s and Salgado’s previous anti-LGBTQ remarks and he said they apologized to him.
“There are many Americans that want to act like how they were always embracing marriage. That is not the reality. People evolve. They become better because of what they experience. I sat down with all of my appointees in a very rigorous appointment process. I believe that what they stated and how they feel, in their own words — I heard them, I accept their apologies, and now it’s time for us to bring our city together,” Adams said in the news conference.
Thursday, Adams’ press secretary Fabien Levy told CNN, “Mayor Adams has a long history of standing with LGBTQ New Yorkers and has included diverse perspectives in collaboratively building both a City Hall team and an agenda that reflect the voices of the community.”
“The mayor is thankful to have hosted many of these groups at City Hall and has personally sat down with them to hear their ideas about engaging New Yorkers across the city,” Levy said in an email. “Our team is committed to serving all New Yorkers equally and fairly, regardless of who they love or how they identify, and is excited to host a Pride celebration at Gracie Mansion next week.”
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CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian contributed to this report.