All in the Family: Rosie's Gay Brother, Daniel, Is Making a Name for Himself in New York State Politics. (Rosie O'Donnell)

By Dahir, Mubarak | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), January 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

All in the Family: Rosie's Gay Brother, Daniel, Is Making a Name for Himself in New York State Politics. (Rosie O'Donnell)


Dahir, Mubarak, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


If you read Daniel O'Donnell's campaign literature, he seems like a gay politician with something to hide.

No, he doesn't shy away from his sexual orientation: His 22-year relationship with partner John Banta is mentioned repeatedly in his pamphlets. But what the fliers don't tell you about O'Donnell--a liberal 41-year-old public interest attorney who in November won a Democratic seat representing New York City's upper west side in the state assembly--is his relationship with lesbian celebrity and former talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell.

The closest his printed material gets is a veiled reference telling voters that "despite what you may know about my family, I am not a show-off."

Is that a dig? Not at all, O'Donnell says. "I love my sister, but the fact that we are siblings was irrelevant in my campaign."

You might think having a celebrity sister would give you a big boost in a campaign, but O'Donnell says "it made my job harder. I had to get people to focus on my record, not my celebrity connection."

Indeed, he made it a point not to be closely affiliated with his sister while running for office. "If she would have shown up to campaign for me, it would have turned into being about her and not about the issues or my candidacy. So I worked hard not to let that interfere. On Election Day there was no lever with her name on it. When voters went into the booth I wanted to make sure they knew me and what I stood for. …

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