Weiner to Step Down Amidst Sex Scandal
New York Rep. Anthony Weiner will step down after weeks in the media spotlight following revelations that he sent sexually provocative texts and tweets to a number of women. The messages reportedly included sexually explicit photos.
News of Weiner’s impending resignation was reported June 16 by the New York Times. The article said that the embattled congressman will make a formal announcement on June 16, and has chosen the same spot for the announcement -- Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay -- as when he went public with plans to run for New York’s city council in 1992.
Democratic fellow lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi and President Obama, had pressed for Weiner’s resignation, with Pelosi calling for an ethics investigation, the New York Times reported.
"Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, came to the conclusion that he could no longer serve after having long discussions with his wife, Huma Abedin, when she returned home on Tuesday after traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton," the article said.
Though Weiner evidently did not break any laws in sending the messages, he initially denied responsibility for them, suggesting that a hacker or prankster was the culprit.
The story was broken by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart at his website Big Government. Breitbart portrayed himself to the media as a victim of Weiner’s duplicity, and at one point claimed to have a sexually explicit photo in his possession that he planned to publicize if Weiner sought to retaliate against him.
Breitbart has gone on to capitalize on the sensational media spectacle, telling a group in Decatur, Ill., "We’re coming out to Middle America to warn you that if we don’t fight the soul of America now, we might lose it."
Local newspaper the Herald-Review reported that Breitbart followed up on this statement with a declaration that he is a "biased journalist," and described the social revolution he would like to foment.
"I’m trying to invoke ’60s era cultural revolution," Breitbart told the gathering. "I’d like to take the country back from the nihilists, communists, socialists, environmentalists. I think they’re bullies on the playground.
"I’m a biased journalist," Breitbart added. "I don’t think there’s such a thing as objectivity."
The scandal around Weiner’s sexually charged messages erupted, and then grew, even as New York state lawmakers once again took up the issue of marriage parity for gay and lesbian families. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is an ardent supporter of marriage equality rights for same-sex couples. On June 14, Cuomo introduced legislation that would grant state-level legal marriage recognition to gay families.
The State Assembly quickly approved the measure on June 15 -- the fourth time since 2007 that the body has passed marriage equality legislation -- but the bill has yet to come to a vote in the State Senate, where lawmakers are reportedly tied on the issue, with two state senators undecided.
The State Senate voted on marriage equality in 2009, soundly defeating the measure. No Republicans voted for it at that time, and some Democrats who had previously voiced support also voted against it.
This time, however, at least two Republican state senators are for the measure, in spite of heavy pressure and threats from anti-gay groups. Others have indicated that they would be more receptive if the bill included more comprehensive language allowing not just churches, but also businesses and individuals, to deny same-sex couples making wedding plans their services or accommodations without then facing discrimination charges.