Weiner explains reaction to gay slur

June 20, 2013

A story about the New York mayoral race in today's Washington Post reported an exchange between Anthony Weiner and a voter in Queens who used a gay slur to refer to fellow mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.

“You a registered Democrat?” [Weiner] asked an elderly woman wheeling a shopping cart by him.

“I am,” she said. “And I’m not voting for uh, what’s her name? The dyke.”

“Okay. I just need you to sign the petition to get me on the ballot,” said Weiner, who then noticed the incredulous reaction of a reporter and added, “and you really shouldn’t talk that way about people.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the woman said.

“It’s okay,” Weiner responded. “It’s not your fault.”

Weiner was asked about those remarks this afternoon following a “Big Thought Thursday” campaign speech about health care policy at a CUNY college in midtown Manhattan.

"Well, let me make it clear that when I heard the person make that remark—by the way it was in a scrum of literally dozens of people around me on a street corner—when I heard the woman make that remark, I immediately admonished her not to say anything further," Weiner told reporters after delivering his health policy speech. "I have no memory of saying anything beyond that to the woman."

Here is a recording of the exchange:

Asked at the event Thursday whether he would apologize, Weiner suggested to reporters that because “there seems to have been interest” his campaign would be putting out a statement.

"What the statement would be is that I admonished the woman at the time and my value, that I want to reiterate, is that there should be no slurs like this of any kind," he said. "I have worked my entire career, in an often very conservative environment, in a district that had a heavy Orthodox Jewish and religious Catholic constituency, to embrace the ideas of civil liberties for all people. I was one of the earliest endorsers of gay marriage in the New York congressional delegation.

"I think that what was said was wrong. I said it at the time. Any other impression that might have been left was wrong. I admonished it."

Here's the statement Weiner's office just issued:

"Homophobia is vile and destructive and something I have fought against for the entirety of my career, including being a vocal supporter of gay marriage since 1998 and standing up on the floor of Congress for transgender Americans. I admonished the woman amid a large crowd on a street corner and by no means believe that anything about her comment was appropriate. If the impression is that I did, I apologize because behavior like this will absolutely not be tolerated in my administration."

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David Nakamura | June 20, 2013