The Pride Agenda is announcing today our endorsement of Rick Dollinger, who is challenging Republican Senator Joe Robach in the 56th State Senate District (representing part of Monroe County). Dollinger once held this seat (from 1992-2002) but decided to return to the private sector after a decade of service.
In addition to his experience as a State Senator, Dollinger has also served as a Monroe County Legislator and as Brighton Town Justice. A friend of the LGBT community then, Dollinger long supported the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act and voted for both SONDA and the Hate Crimes Bill when they finally passed and became law in 2002 and 2000, respectively. Because of his consistent support for LGBT issues throughout his career in public office, the Pride Agenda honored Dollinger with the Community Service Award at our annual Spring Dinner in 2003, shortly after he left the Senate.
In an interview with The Albany Project, when asked why he has chosen to return to the State Senate, Dollinger replied: “New York wasn't getting any better. The Senate GOP did nothing while I was there and haven't done anything since I left. I decided that this was my chance to bring about real change." And in his Pride Agenda candidate questionnaire Dollinger said “Quite simply, I’ve always been a champion for the LGBT community and I look forward to being a champion again as we gain the opportunity to make historic changes in the New York State Senate. It goes without saying that my opponent and the leadership that he supports has simply not taken the right stands on critical issues.”
Dollinger would not only be a “yes” vote for LGBT New Yorkers, he would be a vocal advocate for issues that are essential to our community—issues like marriage equality, banning discrimination against transgender people and making schools safe for LGBT youth. In his candidate questionnaire, Dollinger stated that he would not only support these bills but sign onto them as a co-sponsor, as well. Dollinger has stated frequently that he intends to help our community find more “yes” votes on these issues in the State Senate once he is elected.
Dollinger’s opponent and incumbent Joe Robach has not been an ally of the LGBT community. According the Pride Agenda’s Legislative Scorecard, Robach has indicated several times his opposition to marriage equality and banning discrimination against transgender New Yorkers. While he has indicated that he would support legislation that would make schools safer for LGBT youth, he has not been a strong advocate for such legislation and has not taken any steps to move the bill forward. Additionally, Joe Robach was one of only 27 Assemblymembers to vote against the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act when it passed in 2002.
Despite all the nice words Robach says about us when he is talking to our community, he does nearly nothing to support LGBT people when it comes to legislation. Robach will also vote for a Senate Majority Leader who has said unequivocally that he will not support marriage equality or the GENDA bill. Actions speak louder than words—and we do not need someone who consistently votes against our interests in Albany.
Voters in the 56th Senate District, the LGBT community and New Yorkers in general will be better served by Rick Dollinger’s experience and commitment to bringing change and progress to Albany. We look forward to helping in making that happen on Tuesday, November 4.
For information on how you can get involved with helping Rick Dollinger win, visit our online Election Center.