Mayor Eric Adams faces mounting pressure over his appointment of three pastors who previously espoused anti-LGBTQ views to high-level posts in his administration, with a growing chorus now calling for those appointments to be rescinded. 

Dozens of protestors rallied in City Hall Park on Thursday to criticize the hiring of Rev. Erick Salgado as a deputy commissioner of outreach at the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Pastor Gilford Monrose to lead the city’s faith-based office, and former City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera to a faith-based job in the administration. 

All three have expressed anti-LGBTQ views in the past, which THE CITY reported last week.

The Brooklyn-based Salgado and Monrose have publicly opposed same-sex marriage in the recent past, although Salgado said in a statement last week that his views had “evolved.” 

Cabrera, who represented neighborhoods in The Bronx and is also a pastor, had once praised the government of Uganda for its law that allowed the execution of people convicted of being gay. 

He was reportedly initially tapped to lead the city’s mental-health initiative, known as ThriveNYC. 

Critics have called the appointments a disturbing “trend” in the Adams administration, especially given the mayor’s own public support of the LGBTQ community.

Organizers of Thursday’s rally called on the mayor to meet with LGBTQ community leaders and to drop all three pastors from his administration. 

“The mayor is convinced that these individuals have evolved in their thinking. I am not convinced,” Cathy Marino-Thomas, the executive director of Equality NY, said at Thursday’s rally.

“Our community needs more than an apology issued at the time of their appointment.”

Cecilia Gentili, a trans activist, said at Thursday’s rally that she still faces persistent transphobia and homophobia across New York City, and called the controversial appointments “a missed opportunity by the mayor to do something about it.”

City-Wide Electeds Line Up

On Wednesday, Comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams released a joint statement denouncing the hires but did not call for the appointments to be rescinded.

“We are deeply concerned about the message that the mayor is sending by appointing leaders who have histories of disparaging the rights, and even the humanity, of LGBTQ New Yorkers and of working to criminalize abortion,” they wrote. 

Activist Cecilia Gentili speaks during City Hall Park rally, Feb. 24, 2022. Credit: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

“Apologies and redress for past harm are important, as is meaningful, demonstrable growth. At the same time, it’s critically important that concerns about the people hired to serve our city are heard, acknowledged and meaningfully addressed, not dismissed.”

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) also expressed concerns about the hires, but noted that they are in the purview of the mayor. 

“I am an ally of the LGBTQ community,” she said at an unrelated press conference. “The mayor’s appointments are the mayor’s appointments.”

‘Converting People to Be at the Right Place’

Mayor Adams has pointed to his longstanding support of the LGBTQ community, including voting in favor of same-sex marriage in 2011, while serving in the state senate. 

During an appearance early Thursday on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” he noted that many current city leaders did not initially support same-sex marriage like he did

(Public Advocate Williams, for example, has been criticized in the past for not supporting it.)

“We must move from the cancel culture to the consultation culture. We have to take people – meet them where they are and take them where they ought to be,” Adams said.

“We should be in a position of converting people to be at the right place because we’ve got more battles ahead of us,” he added, saying he would meet with LGBTQ community leaders. 

“You’re talking about Eric Adams,” he said of himself. “We fought together to get here.”