New Yorkers rally against anti-LGBTQ+ mayoral appointees

More than 100 demonstrators protested in front of New York City Hall in opposition to the hirings of Gilford Monrose, Erick Salgado and Fernando Cabrera by Mayor Eric Adams.

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Pashmina Khan

About 150 people gathered in front of New York City Hall to protest the appointment of three pastors to Mayor Eric Adams’ administration on Feb. 24. (Photo by ​​Pashmina Khan)

Pashmina Khan, Contributing Writer

Around 150 protesters gathered outside of New York City Hall on Thursday, Feb. 24 calling to rescind the appointment of three pastors to Mayor Eric Adams’ administration. The appointees have a record of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and hate speech.

The hirings, chosen by Adams in February, include Gilford Monrose, the executive director of New York City’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, Erick Salgado, the assistant commissioner of outreach at the Office of Immigrant Affairs, and former city council member Fernando Cabrera, the senior faith adviser to the mayor’s faith-based office.

“These appointments make me incredibly disappointed, sad and angered,” Erik Bottcher, a representative for New York’s 3rd District, said. “Religious fundamentalism is hurting New York, hurting children and tearing families apart. Let’s be clear about something — the fight for LGBTQ equality has not been won and we are not moving on.” 

In previous years, Salgado and Monrose have both publicly denounced same-sex marriage, but Salgado has since announced that his views have “evolved.” In 2011, Cabera protested against marriage equality. He also supported anti-gay legislation in Uganda, which is known as a “Kill the Gays” bill by activists and members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Protesters gathered in front of New York City Hall holding a sign saying "We Need Faith Based Not Faith Debased."
The mayor defended his decision to hire the anti-LGBTQ+ mayoral appointees at a press conference in Brooklyn on Feb. 23. (Photo by ​​Pashmina Khan)

Adams defended his hirings at a press conference in Brooklyn on Feb. 23 in response to mounting public criticism. During his time in the New York state senate, Adams voted in favor of the 2011 marriage equality bill and acknowledged that many of his city leaders did not initially support same-sex marriage.

“This was a different America, when marriage was first brought to the floor,” Adams said. “If we say anyone who did not get it then should be banished permanently, that’s the wrong message. The goal is to convert, allow people to evolve, and allow them to see the error of their ways.”

Alex Fontanez and Sandrine Blake, assistant directors at healthcare nonprofit Amida Care, have been actively fighting Adams’ appointments and attended the protest to stand with the LGBTQ+ community. Blake said that Amida Care and other organizations will continue to provide care to members of the LGBTQ+ community in any form possible.

“We are a special needs health plan that caters to HIV [positive], trans and LGBTQ+ individuals, and we are here at today’s protest to support our family,” Fonatnez said. “The mayor’s appointments feel like a step backward. Something that we need to keep an eye out for especially, as citizens of New York, is that we make sure we get represented the way we should be represented.”

Protesters gathered in front of New York City Hall holding a sign saying "Rescind Homophobic Appointments Now!"
The hirings include Gilford Monrose, Erick Salgado and Fernando Cabrera, all of whom have a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ+ movements and hate speech. (Photo by ​​Pashmina Khan)

Shéár Avory, an art activist in residence at the LGBTQ+ youth organization Xchange for Change, condemned Adam’s decision and called for the appointments to be revoked.

“These appointments say more about the Mayor’s values and lack of willingness to engage with and serve the LGBTQ community in New York City in good faith,” they said. “Mr. Mayor, justice is solidarity.”

Allen Roskoff is the president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, which fights for human rights and opportunities of the LGBTQ+ community. He said the hiring is a betrayal to all LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, before he flipped off City Hall.

“Mayor Adams has given us the middle finger,” Roskoff said. “I say to Mayor Adams, ‘Here’s my middle finger.’”

Contact Pashmina Khan at [email protected]