Marty Markowitz Has High Hopes for Hasid With Homophobic Past

Gregarious Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz recently sparked the ire of Brooklyn’s gays with his endorsement of former city councilman and fifth-district Civil Court judge candidate Noach Dear. Dear, an Orthodox Jew with a history of anti-gay and anti-choice sympathies (he famously led the opposition against the landmark 1986 City Council Gay Rights bill), has already amassed quite a few campaign dollars; the Brooklyn Heights Courier reports his campaign is worth over ten times that of his sole opponent, Manhattan resident Karen Yellen. "I made a decision [to endorse him], whether it's right or wrong," Marty told New York yesterday, seeming to already doubt his endorsement of the controversial candidate. Given the power of the purse, Dear is widely expected to win tomorrow — when residents of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Dyker Heights, and Parks Sunset and Borough cast their votes. What’s puzzling is that Markowitz has been a longtime ally of the gay community, so the Dear endorsement leaves a lot to be explained. We caught up with Marty (who, incidentally, still says he doesn't know if he's running for mayor) yesterday during the Brooklyn Book Festival and asked him about earning himself a potential fagwa.

"Well, listen, there is no doubt that Noach Dear … has some history of not exactly being, uh, an advocate of gay rights — that's sort of putting it mildly," he said. "He is, however, a religious Orthodox Jew, and just like [for] any other religious group, whether it’s Protestants or Catholics or Jews … crossing over and embracing gays and lesbians is a very difficult chore for them. I can’t think of one elected official that’s religious that has that ability to do it." But Markowitz thinks Dear would be a competent judge and says his opponent is a carpetbagger who is running in Brooklyn because it's cheaper. "[Dear] has assured me that as it relates to gay and lesbian rights — and women’s rights — that he will be sensitive and responsive and that he will look upon each case … on its merits." Even Markowitz didn't sound convinced. —Ben Kawaller