Christine Quinn is the speaker of the New York City Council, a mayoral-candidate-in-training, and the most powerful lesbian in New York. Long Island-born Quinn got her start in politics in 1989, working in grassroots housing activism. Two years later she went to work as chief of staff for Tom Duane, the openly gay councilman in Chelsea, leaving in the mid-'90s to head up the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project. In 1999, Quinn won a Council seat representing Chelsea, succeeding her old boss. As a councilmember, Quinn was defiantly independent, pushing to provide health care benefits to domestic partners even though Mayor Bloomberg was opposed, and opposing the proposed West Side Stadium, one of the mayor's pet projects. When elected as speaker in 2006, Quinn was the first woman speaker, the first gay speaker, and, as her father insisted on pointing out, the first Irish-American speaker in Council history. She proved herself a canny politician in this speaker role, cozying up to the city's business establishment and supporting various big development projects. The transition wasn't altogether surprising considering her hopes to take over from Bloomberg as mayor. In 2008, Quinn became entangled in a federal probe exposing a longstanding City Council practice of appropriating funds to fake organizations. Though she apologized for permitting the practice and quickly reformed the discretionary spending process, the scandal left her a bit tainted, particularly in the wake of embarrassing revelations from fellow politicians like Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Quinn lives with her partner, attorney Kim Catullo, and their two dogs, Andy and Sadie. Aptly, the housing crusader's place in Chelsea is rent-stabilized.

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