Evolving? When? Suozzi & Williams
We should all be able to agree that an elected official or candidate can “evolve”. They can decide that a position they held at an earlier time is no longer what they believe today. We can, in some instances, even applaud that transformation.
But we should also be able to agree that an elected official or candidate cannot “evolve” without owning their original position. Otherwise, it is all just words – a game of smoke and mirrors.
Two candidates running on the Democratic Party line for Governor of New York, Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi, have precisely that problem. They ignore, even deny, their anti-choice history.
Tom Suozzi and Jumaane Williams are mimicking the likes of Republicans Pataki and Romney. They purport to have one position on abortion that runs totally contrary to their previous words and actions, perhaps with the hope that voters will have no memory. But we remember! In our book, candidates must own their actions. Candidates that don’t, can’t be trusted.
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Jumaane Williams – an anti-choice & anti-same-sex marriage legacy
Jumaane Williams has a long history of being anti-choice and anti-same-sex marriage.
In a 2013 article in the Observer, Jumaane Williams defended his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights by saying he was only running for City Council and, therefore, his views would not impact votes. “The only thing I can tell you is to look at the issues that have come before the City Council. Perhaps it would be a different conversation if I was trying to go somewhere else, but I’m going to the City Council.” Well, now he is running “to go somewhere else”, for a different office, one that greatly impacts abortion and LGBTQ+ rights for all of New York– He’s running for Governor!
To highlight the absurdity of his claim that his personal views would not impact his vote on the City Council, look at his 2014 abstention. Williams abstained in a vote on a critical bill that would allow transgender New Yorkers to change the gender designation on their birth certificate. He actively chose not to vote. He abdicated responsibility. Not voting is a huge action. His personal opinion clearly impacted his decision to abstain.
In 2013, in an interview with Politico, Jumaane Williams declared, “You have to check off a box of pro-choice and you have to check off a box of pro-life [sic] and I don’t know that I’m comfortable in any of those boxes. I am personally not in favor of abortion” — again proving that he cannot be trusted as an advocate for abortion rights. In that same interview, Williams also stated that he believes the definition of marriage is between a male and a female.
Again, in 2017, when running for Speaker of the NYC City Council, Williams’ positions were highlighted. “But [Williams] — pointing to his church-going, Caribbean roots — also believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and that expectant fathers are too often left out of the conversation when it comes to the issue of abortion.”
The fundamental right to an abortion must remain a decision made by the pregnant person, with no legal requirement to consult anyone else.
Both NOW – NY (2018) and Planned Parenthood NYC (2017) voiced strong opposition to Williams.
In 2018, in an interview with Choice Matters, Williams stated that he believed he should have had a say when his girlfriend chose to terminate her pregnancy.
In 2019, Politico noted, “Williams has long insisted his position on abortion was a personal one, rooted in both religious conviction and his own personal experience involving a pregnancy that was terminated without him being consulted. He has said fathers should have more rights in making decisions about abortions.”
This man is anti-choice. He does not acknowledge, much less admit, his past anti-abortion and anti-same-sex-marriage history and, most definitely, cannot be trusted with our future.
Tom Suozzi – An anti-choice waffler
Tom Suozzi is no better. He is running away from his anti-choice record. He has refused to answer questions about his actions or his positions on reproductive health care.
In 2005, when serving as Nassau County Executive, Suozzi waffled about a woman’s rights to control her own body, her right to privacy, as a constitutional right. He dubbed it “a debate.”
As County Executive, Suozzi declared, “I want to try and convert the same energy, passion and resources that fuel the debate, into a common effort.”
For pro-choice advocates: Abortion rights are not a debate! Constitutional rights are not a debate!
He proposed that Nassau County use $3 million of their surplus money over three years to fund alternatives to abortion, dividing the money between homes for single pregnant women, promotion of adoption and family planning education. He called his initiative “Common Sense for the Common Good”. It was an array of programs — adoption and housing, sex education, and abstinence promotion — to reduce unwanted pregnancies and to help pregnant women who want to bring their children into the world.
What about support for access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare?
These proposed allocations were anti-choice initiatives. None went to funding comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
Proof: It is well known that the Catholic Church vehemently opposes abortion and most forms of contraception – going so far as to deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden, among others, communion because they support comprehensive reproductive rights.
So the fact that Bishop William Murphy clearly endorsed Suozzi’s action for what it was – anti-abortion healthcare – should make everyone sit up and take notice. The Bishop was supportive of the speech, calling it, “important and, on the whole, very helpful.” He added that Suozzi “deserves our gratitude for exercising this kind of political leadership.“
In 2017, Suozzi reiterated his support for the Hyde Amendment which in particular blocks access to abortion for lower income and of-color individuals. He refused to support the EACH Woman Act, a House bill which would repeal the Hyde Amendment. In a letter, women in Suozzi’s congressional district called for him to reverse his position on the amendment. “Time and again, we have begged you to reverse course and join your colleagues in demanding for Hyde’s repeal—and you’ve refused. We are ashamed that our own representative refuses to stand up for the accessible right to choose. A future without Hyde will mean that every person in America can control their own reproductive healthcare. Enough is enough—reverse your position on Hyde now.” This is a fundamental and defining issue for pro-choice advocates, accessibility must be for all – not just the wealthy.
In March 2017, in front of a national audience, Suozzi laid out the same case for his “Common Sense for the Common Good” agenda on the issue of abortion – just like he did in May 2005 as Nassau County Executive.
Now Suozzi is calling himself “the Common Sense Democrat for Governor”. Same tagline, different day.
We cannot let candidates rewrite the definition of “pro-choice”.
New Yorkers who support abortion rights and comprehensive reproductive justice cannot afford Suozzi. Especially not at a time when the US Supreme Court is on the verge of overturning Roe v. Wade. He is dangerous.
Jumaane Williams and Tom Suozzi are anti-choice and BAD for the people of New York State.