The advertisement appeared in the August 27 issue of Der Blatt, a Yiddish-language newspaper which serves the largely Hasidic neighborhood of Boro Park, where gay marriage is strongly opposed.
Gay rights and marriage equality have become an important issue in the competitive race for the 39th Council District seat, being vacated by Councilman Bill deBlasio, as candidates vie for votes in the district’s more conservative neighborhoods of Boro Park and Kensington.
Lander has spoken in favor of gay rights while campaigning elsewhere in the district, which includes liberal sections of Brooklyn like Park Slope and Cobble Hill.
The advertisement reads like a general editorial endorsement, with the headline “Boro Park will end up supporting candidate Brad Lander for City Council.”
It was written anonymously, with the support for Lander attributed to “Rabbinical leaders and Grand Rabbis.”
In a blunt, though indirect, reference to gay marriage, the article states that “Mr. Lander strongly opposes various types of abominations and immoral laws, which are a major issue in the current election.”
The translation of the article from Yiddish was done by a professional translator, and confirmed independently by the Brooklyn Star. The word toyvos, or abominations, is generally understood within the ultra-orthodox community to mean homosexuality, a source told the Star.
Der Blatt sent Lander an invoice for $200 for the article on August 28, a day after it appeared in print, according to a copy of the invoice obtained by the Star.
Lander denied authorizing the advertisement. He has sent letters to Der Blatt asking for a retraction, and to the city Campaign Finance Board asking it to investigate the incident.
“We had nothing to do with the advertisement at all,” Lander said, when reached by phone. “I’m outraged. People in Boro Park know I’m a longtime supporter of marriage equality.”
One of his leading opponents, Josh Skaller, who supports marriage equality, called the advertisement, and Lander’s treatment of the issue throughout his campaign, into question.
“I think it’s important that as a city council member you are able to have a consistent message and say what you believe,” said Skaller, without changing messages to court particular groups or constituencies.
“I would hope that the other candidates would also come out and renounce this kind of behavior.”