The disturbing video featuring a New York City horse-drawn carriage driver going off on an anti-gay, racist tirade has caught the attention of City Council Speak Christine Quinn.
The New York Times reports that Quinn wrote a letter to the carriage drivers union, Teamsters Local 533, which read in part, "The behavior depicted in this video is reprehensible and unacceptable from anyone, and is especially unbefitting of an industry the City Council has made sure treats its animals humanely."
Quinn-- who, citing the revenue it brings to the city, has historically supported the carriage industry-- was responding to a letter penned by tennis player Martina Navratilova, which urged Quinn to put an end to the usage of horse-drawn carriages.
Navratilova is a longtime PETA advocate and, like Quinn, is openly gay. The tennis legend's letter stated:
Many PETA advocates, including me, are gay. We share a heightened sense of responsibility in fighting the callous disregard that many have for animal suffering because we have experienced a similar disregard for the cruelty that we ourselves have faced. You are a champion of gay rights; won't you extend your compassion to the city's beleaguered working animals?
Quinn, however, remained steadfast in her support of the carriage drivers, saying she favored "allowing an industry that generates vital jobs and tourism for our city to continue."
Quinn's position is similar to that of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has repeatedly defended drivers and their horses, saying simply, "the tourists love them." Bloomberg has insisted that despite numerous incidents of horse collapses, carriage-horses are indeed treated well.
While it's true the city has made steps to improve conditions for horses, including provisions to provide mandatory vacations and blankets during winter months, videos capturing collapses and sudden horse deaths have increasingly alarmed New Yorkers.
In a recent rally with anti-carriage activists, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio slammed Quinn for the City Council's failure to act on banning horse-drawn carriages. "I was in this building for eight years in the City Council," he said. "The City Council doesn’t have the option to look the other way. Particularly when the mayor’s not acting. The City Council’s supposed to step up. That’s the nature of our government.”
(Warning: Graphic language)