Thomas Duane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Thomas K. Duane
Member of the New York Senate
from the 29th district
In office
January 1, 1999 – December 31, 2012
Preceded byCatherine Abate
Succeeded byBrad Hoylman
Member of the New York City Council from the 3rd district
In office
January 1, 1992 – December 31, 1998
Preceded byCarol Greitzer
Succeeded byChristine Quinn
Personal details
Born (1955-01-30) January 30, 1955 (age 64)
Political partyDemocratic
ResidenceNew York City

Thomas K. Duane (born January 30, 1955) is an American politician from New York, who served in the New York State Senate from 1999 to 2012.

Duane was the first openly gay member of the New York State Senate, and the only such member during his tenure there.[1] He was also the body's only openly HIV-positive member.[2] He represented the 29th Senate District, which stretches along Manhattan's West Side from 85th Street to Canal Street, and includes the following neighborhoods: Upper West Side, Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and part of the East Side, including the East Village, Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village and Waterside Plaza.

Early life and education[edit]

Duane holds a degree in American and Urban Studies from Lehigh University. Born at the old French Hospital on West 30th Street in Manhattan, he was raised in Flushing, Queens,[3] where he attended St. Andrew Avellino School and Holy Cross High School (Flushing). After beginning a career as a Wall Street stockbroker, he moved into public service by volunteering for his community board and working for then-city comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman.[4]

His brother, John F. Duane, served in the New York State Assembly in 1983–84 representing the 26th Assembly District in Queens.[5] Duane's partner of 25 years is Louis Webre.[6]


First elected to the Senate in 1998, he took office the following January and won re-election every two years thereafter until he announced in 2012 that he would be leaving the Senate, citing weariness with commuting between New York City and Albany and in general being ready for "another chapter in my life."[7] At one time he was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, later that committee’s Ranking Minority Member.[8]

His signature legislative accomplishments in the New York State legislature included the passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) (2002) and Timothy's Law, which requires mental health parity for patients by insurance companies (2006) which were subsequently signed into law by Governor George Pataki.[9] He was also the prime sponsor of the state's Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which had been passed numerous times by the State Assembly but previously not come up for a vote in the Senate. Finally, in 2019 the bill passed both the Assembly and the Senate and was eventually signed by Governor Cuomo.[10]

He was also instrumental in the ultimate passage of the Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2000,[11] which stipulates longer penalties for those convicted of alleged hate crimes and mandates that New York State keep an active database of these crimes. Duane's advocacy of this cause was personal as well as principled; in 1983, he was hospitalized after being assaulted by two men shouting anti-gay epithets, yet the perpetrators were charged only with a misdemeanor. He also took the lead on "Manny's Law," which requires hospitals to disclose to indigent patients the availability of state-sponsored funds for health care costs, and worked to enact a rental cap of 30 percent of income for people who are living with AIDS and eligible for government financial assistance.[12]

Prior to his election to the New York State Senate in 1998, Duane served on the New York City Council, to which he was first elected in 1991. Andrew Jacobs, later a correspondent for The New York Times and a director and producer of a 2008 documentary, served as his press secretary during his successful run for the Council.[13] Duane and Antonio Pagán, first elected in the same year, were the first two openly gay city council members in New York.[14] For part of that time, Christine Quinn worked as his chief of staff. When he resigned his council seat on being sworn into the Senate, she successfully ran to succeed him.[15]

In 1994, Duane ran for the U.S. House of Representatives against incumbent Jerrold Nadler, losing the primary election by a margin of two to one.[16]

Duane had also served as a member of his local Community Board, and four terms as Male Democratic District Leader in the 64th New York State Legislature.

Only the second openly LGBT member of the New York Legislature, he later became one of six, alongside Assemblymembers Micah Kellner, Daniel O'Donnell, Matthew Titone, Harry Bronson and Deborah Glick.

Duane was the lead sponsor of Same-sex union legislation in the New York State Senate.[17] Following the Senate vote, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn issued a statement thanking Duane and the State Senate leadership for bringing the bill to a vote and saying "I applaud them for their dogged leadership on this issue."[18]

He was also a leader in bipartisan moves to require health insurers to cover mental illness treatment, to improve health care for prisoners, and to make it harder for people to avoid paying child and spousal support.[19]

Duane has also fought overdevelopment in historic districts.[20] In 2003, he was honored with a Village Award[21] from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Since retiring from the State Senate, he has continued his advocacy work on behalf of the LGBTQ community, disadvantaged children, people with HIV/AIDS, and others. He established Tom Duane Strategies, Inc., dedicated to working with organizations that improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. He has been an outspoken critic of Republican Party agendas and the Trump Administration and an ongoing supporter of LGBTQ rights.[22] He has done philanthropic work with New York City's Anti-Violence Project, which coordinates the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, and is on its board of directors.[23] He has been on New Alternatives for Children's board of directors as well, and remains an advisory director and active supporter of the group. He has also raised funds for HIV/TB/HCV think tank Treatment Action Group, community health center APICHA, and others.

Duane has received a number of honors, from organizations including Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (where he was the World AIDS Day speaker in December 2015), and The Alpha Workshops, which will be honoring him on May 15, 2017. In 2012 he received a Legends of the Village award from VillageCare, a nonprofit serving people with chronic, continuing, and rehabilitative care needs, which cited his championing of "civil rights, including gay rights in particular, HIV treatment and outreach needs, health care initiatives that reach out to those who are underserved or not served at all, tenant rights and much more."[24] In 2016 he received an Impact Award from Gay City News[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bolcer, Julie (February 10, 2011). "N.Y. Leader Wants Gay Senator to Carry Marriage Bill". The Advocate. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  2. ^ Hutchinson, Bill (June 4, 2012). "New York's first openly gay state senator, Thomas Duane, won't seek reelection".
  3. ^ Schlesinger, Toni (April 24, 2001). "State Sen. Tom Duane's Co-Op in Penn South". The Village Voice.
  4. ^ Chen, David W. (June 3, 2012). "Champion of Gay Rights to Leave New York State Senate". New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  5. ^ Duke, Nathan (August 19, 2010). "Duane seeks Assembly return". Queens Campaigner.
  6. ^ Vanasco, Jennifer (August 25, 2008). "Voices from the floor: Tom Duane".
  7. ^ Hutchinson, Bill (June 4, 2012). "New York's first openly gay state senator, Thomas Duane, won't seek reelection".
  8. ^ "Chair Of Senate Health Committee Joins With Healthcare Experts To Determine Best Methods To Reform Medicaid". January 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Manoukian, Adel (July 26, 2012). "Tracking Duane's Career". NY Press. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  10. ^ Harding, Robert (January 26, 2019). "Cuomo signs GENDA, NY transgender rights bill, and conversion therapy ban". Auburn Citizen. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  11. ^ Swanson, Stevenson (August 25, 1999). "Advocates Seek Hate Laws But Can't Prove They Work". Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  12. ^ "2016 Gay City News Impact Award Honorees". March 7, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ Pener, Degen (September 6, 1992). "A Gay City Councilman Wants to Tell His Story". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2007.
  15. ^ Hicks, Jonathan A. (February 17, 1999). "Gay-Rights Advocate Wins Village Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  16. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (September 14, 1994). "In House Races, Incumbents Defeat Challengers Handily". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2009.
  17. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (December 3, 2009). "From the Floor and the Heart, Senators Make an Issue Personal". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Christine, Quinn (December 2, 2009). "Re: Senate Vote on Same-Sex Marriage". Press Release. NYC City Council. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  19. ^ Chen, David W. (June 3, 2012). "Champion of Gay Rights to Leave New York State Senate". New York Times. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  20. ^ "Hundreds of Village Residents Turn Out For Rally and March to Save the Historic Far West Village from Overdevelopment". April 18, 2004. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  21. ^ "Past Village Award Winners" (PDF). Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  22. ^ Hansen, Matt (February 4, 2017). "Rally in New York supports immigrants and rights for gays and lesbians". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  23. ^ "NYC anti-violence project sees LGBT advocate join board". FourTwoNine. March 6, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  24. ^ "LEGENDS OF THE VILLAGE EVENT TO HONOR SENATOR DUANE ON NOV. 5". October 12, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  25. ^ "2016 Gay City News Impact Award Honorees". March 7, 2016. Retrieved April 25, 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Carol Greitzer
New York City Council, 3rd District
Succeeded by
Christine Quinn
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Catherine Abate
New York State Senate, 27th District
Succeeded by
Carl Kruger
Preceded by
David Paterson
New York State Senate, 29th District
Succeeded by
Jose M. Serrano
Preceded by
Kemp Hannon
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health
Succeeded by
Kemp Hannon