Adams, in Quick Reversal, Ousts an Education Hire Over Anti-Gay Writings
Last month, when Mayor Eric Adams’s decision to hire three people with histories of homophobic views and statements was met with outrage from members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, he agreed to meet to hear their grievances.
Some attendees described the meeting as productive, but Mr. Adams dug in on his appointments and refused to fire the three appointees, political allies whom he said deserved a second chance.
On Tuesday, the mayor found himself under renewed scrutiny, after it was disclosed that the Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, one of Mr. Adams’s appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy, a board that advises the chancellor, had written a book that called homosexuality a sin.
In the book, Ms. Barrett-Layne, a pastor from Staten Island, equated homosexuality to pedophilia, stealing and lying.
Hours after The Daily News reported on the book, City Hall officials forced Ms. Barrett-Layne to resign. Amaris Cockfield, a spokeswoman for Mr. Adams, said that the administration was unaware of Ms. Barrett-Layne’s remarks before she was appointed to the board.
Still, for members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, her mere appointment signaled both a lack of careful vetting and that Mr. Adams might not take their concerns seriously.
State Senator Brad Hoylman said the mayor seems to have a “blind spot” that these appointments “make the L.G.B.T.Q. community very uneasy” in the current environment.
“We were too nice to him,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, chair of Equality New York. “Maybe he needs to see the other side. It’s a little nastier.”
Ms. Barrett-Layne, a retired educator with 30 years of experience in city schools as a teacher, assistant principal and field supervisor, said she was “disappointed” by the mayor’s decision to dismiss her and compared her plight to the troubles faced by school children.
“I feel bullied. I believe that the city is being bullied,” Ms. Barrett-Layne said in an interview. “I feel as though my character, my name, my church have been defamed with lies and that everything was taken out of context.”
In her book, “Challenging Your Disappointments as Appointments With Destiny,” Ms. Barrett-Layne, the senior pastor at Reach Out and Touch Ministries International on Staten Island, wrote about the challenges facing young people in prison: “They live in the grip of fornicating homosexual lifestyles with the risk of being infected with the AIDS virus and other sexually transmitted diseases.”
In another section, she wrote that Christian leaders struggle with the “same temptations of drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, pornography, pedophilia, stealing, lying, envy, covetousness, and every other sin that the congregation struggle with.”
Crystal Hudson, a Black councilwoman from Brooklyn who is a co-chairwoman of the City Council’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Caucus, supported the decision to remove Ms. Barrett-Layne from the educational panel. But she questioned why Ms. Barrett-Layne was forced to resign while the three male appointees were supported by the mayor in spite of the firestorm caused by their appointments, and allowed to stay.
“I agree 100 percent that she should have resigned. But it also is not lost on me that as a Black woman, she was the one who will resign when we still have other men who made very similar remarks,” Ms. Hudson said.
Erick Salgado, who was appointed as the assistant commissioner for external affairs at Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, had actively opposed marriage equality when he ran for mayor in 2013; Gilford Monrose, executive director in the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, said homosexuality was a “lifestyle” that he did not “agree” with but that he accepted and loved everyone; and Fernando Cabrera, senior adviser in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, traveled to Uganda in 2014 and made supportive remarks about the country’s law that made homosexuality a crime punishable by up to life in prison.
City officials said that the remarks of Mr. Salgado, Mr. Cabrera and Mr. Monrose were known before they joined City Hall, and that Mr. Adams spoke to the three men to inform them that their past statements were unacceptable and would not be tolerated in his administration.
Ms. Cockfield, in a statement, said that Ms. Barrett-Layne was “incompletely vetted, then asked to resign after we were made aware of their writings.”
Ms. Barret-Layne said that her comments were based on interviews with people she had counseled or conducted for the book and that she is considering taking legal action against the city.
“I’m not homophobic. The answer is no, absolutely not,” she said.
Mr. Adams has presented himself as an ally of the L.G.B.T.Q. community and frequently reminds them of his support for marriage equality when he was a state senator. But opponents of his appointments say that’s not enough.
“In the meeting he referred to himself as the biggest supporter of the L.G.B.T.Q. community,” Ms. Hudson said. “Actions go further than words.”