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Gay rights activists protest Monserrate, Onorato vote

The wound is still fresh for gay and lesbian constituents of Queens and state senators like Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst), who voted against same-sex marriage two weeks ago.

Organized by groups like the LGBT Coalition of Queens and the Western Queens Same Sex Marriage Alliance, protesters marched on Monserrate’s office in East Elmhurst Saturday and Sen. George Onorato’s (D-Astoria) office Sunday.

Although the politicians and their staffers were not in the offices, the group got plenty of looks — both positive and skeptical — from Corona residents as they marched north from Roosevelt Avenue.

“I want everyone to hear that I am not a second-class citizen,” said Sara Pomar, a same-sex marriage activist from Woodside. “It is irrelevant, my sexuality, but we all deserve the same civil rights.”

City Councilman-elect Daniel Dromm, a longtime Queens activist for gay rights who will represent Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst come Jan. 1, said Monserrate indicated he supported same-sex marriage in a survey he filled out for the Empire State Pride Agenda. He and the Queens Democratic Party are endorsing state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) to challenge Monserrate in the 2010 Democratic primary.

“He violates the rights of the LGBT community, he violates the rights of the immigrant community, the African-American community, the Latino community because we are all in this struggle together for equal rights,” Dromm said, calling on same-sex marriage supporters to campaign throughout the borough, including Howard Beach, the home turf of state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), who also voted against the bill.

State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights) accused Monserrate of not representing his constituents.

“If he did he would have looked and saw that the three Assembly members that make up this district all co-sponsored the legislation,” he said.

Elmhurst resident Sebastian Maguire called Monserrate a liar over his recent claim in a NY1 interview that no one had contacted him to encourage him to vote for the bill.

“Raise your hand if you personally called him, approached him, anything,” he told the crowd. At least a dozen hands went up.

Richard Allman, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, said the influential group would be focusing its political efforts on Queens in 2010.

“Yes, Sen. Monserrate, in addition to this being political, it’s personal because you’re standing in the way of me and the man I love and that I intend to spend the rest of my life with,” he said. “And you will be stopped.”

German Morales, an Elmhurst resident who is HIV-positive, warned that gay rights and the rights of HIV and AIDS patients are interconnected.

“I love him. He’s my friend,” he said of Monserrate. “But he’s not my political friend anymore.”

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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