A 2013 mayoral candidate who was against marriage equality has been appointed to Mayor Eric Adams’ immigration office, sparking outrage from staffers and advocates who see a pattern within the new administration.
Erick Salgado was picked this week to be assistant commissioner of outreach at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, working on initiatives for the city’s millions of immigrants.
It’s his first job in government according to his bio. Salgado is also a pastor at the Iglesia Jovenes Cristianos in Brooklyn and runs a Spanish-language ministry radio station.
Salgado ran unsuccessfully in 2013’s Democratic primary for mayor, where his stance against marriage equality was brought up throughout his campaign.
He marched with then-State Sen. Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. in a rally against marriage equality in 2011 and was endorsed in the 2013 race by the National Organization of Marriage, a nonprofit group opposed to same-sex marriage.
Salgado has also been an ardent supporter of Adams since at least his Brooklyn borough president days, frequently posting photos of the two together on his social media. He served on the mayor’s transition team and also worked as a “spiritual advisor.”
When questioned by THE CITY Thursday, Salgado said his views had changed over the years, and promised to support all immigrants seeking help.
“I am proud to serve in this administration under the leadership of Mayor Adams, and share his long-held values of tolerance and inclusion,” he said in an emailed statement.
“My views have evolved as society has evolved,” wrote Salgado, echoing phrasing used by higher-level Democrats than him.
A spokesperson for the mayor, who did not want to be named, would not answer if Salgado now supports marriage equality, or further explain his “evolved” views.
The spokesperson pointed to the mayor’s history of support for LGBTQ+ issues, including voting for same-sex marriage while in the state Senate. He has also appointed many LGBTQ+ staffers to high-level jobs in his administration, the spokesperson noted.
‘It’s Going Backwards’
Salgado’s hiring has rankled some staffers at MOIA, according to sources in the administration.
One top staffer pointed to an event he attended this week with former City Council member Ruben Diaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister who has also protested against marriage equality and at one time said the City Council was “controlled by the homosexual community.”
“He stated that he has changed, that his views have evolved, but if your first event as a higher-up of this organization is with these people, that to me shows that your ideas haven’t changed, and that you are going to use this position now to advance those ideas. And I think that’s dangerous,” a top-level staffer at MOIA told THE CITY on Friday.
Others in the community have seen it as a “trend” of questionable hires by Adams.
“As a queer immigrant it’s really disturbing to me that the Adams administration would appoint someone who has made awful homophobic remarks for any agency in the city but even more so in MOIA,” said Natalia Aristizabal Betancur, the deputy director of the nonprofit organization Make the Road New York.
Her organization works with a large community of trans immigrants who rely on the office of immigrant affairs for a variety of services, she said.
“There’s a trend here and our main concern is that people who are not either part of this community or willing to understand these commuties will be in the best position to understand [queer immigrants],” she said.
“This is a city that has become more progressive, and it’s going backwards.”
The mayor faced criticisms earlier this month after POLITICO reported that former Bronx Councilmember Fernando Cabrera would lead the city’s mental-health office.
Cabrera is also a pastor who had once expressed support for a law in Uganda that allowed the execution of people convicted of being gay.
Although the decision was blasted by many LGBTQ officials, he is still being considered for a role in the administration, POLITICO reported.
Adams also appointed Brooklyn Pastor Gilford Monrose to lead the city’s faith-based office, despite anti-LGBTQ comments made in interviews and on social media.
Councilmember Tiffany Caban (D-Queens), who describes herself as queer, said the appointment of Salgado and others with anti-LGBTQ views to high-level positions in government goes against Adams’ goal of equity.
“If we’re saying we want to build a city that’s equitable, there should be a movement to root out all forms of bigotry,” she told THE CITY.
Danny Dromm, a former City Council member who represented a large immigrant community in Queens and is also gay, called it “unacceptable.”
“There’s a very large community of immigrants who come to the United States because they’ve been persecuted in their own country,” said Dromm, now retired.
“This is the place they come to because they believe they can find freedom.”