What about New York?
November 6th, 2008
Public opinion polls in New York suggest that the residents of the Empire State may well be strongly supportive of marriage equality. The Governor is a strong advocate of marriage and has on more than one occasion demonstrated his support. In June 2007, the state assembly passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in a decisive 85-61 vote, with four Republicans supporting the bill.
Same-sex marriages conducted outside New York in a place where they are legal are currently recognized by the state.
And for the past year, the only thing standing in the way of a Senate vote on the bill was that the Republicans had a tiny majority and the Senate Leader refused to let the bill come up for a vote.
And now that has changed. As a result of Tuesday night, the Democrats will go into the next legislative session with a two vote lead in the Senate.
So why is it too early to celebrate?
Because four of the Democratic Senators are considering backing a Republican Senate Leader. The Democrat up for Leadership is black, which does not sit well with these Senators.
Three of the four holdouts are Latino legislators who feel Latinos have been underrepresented in leadership roles in city and state government and want to press the issue in the Senate.
Mr. Díaz said the four men, who have formed an independent political caucus, may put off making a decision on whom to back for leader until the new legislative session begins in January.
“There’s a concern that we have a black president, a black governor and we have a concern that we have to be sharing power,” said Mr. Díaz.
But race is not the only factor in the decision as to who should lead the Senate.
Mr. Díaz, a Pentecostal minister, has long been one of the most socially conservative voices in the Senate. He continued to say on Wednesday that he could not support as leader any lawmaker who would help make gay marriage become law, even if it were his own son, Assemblyman Ruben Díaz Jr.
“I would not support anybody, Malcolm Smith, my son Ruben Díaz Jr., anybody who supports that,” he said.
Senator Diaz seems to be indicating that he would rather that Republican Dean Skelos lead the Senate than that marriage equality come to New York. And while Senator Skelos has met with Log Cabin and has indicated a willingness to be more open to gay issues than his predecessor, Senator Bruno, he is not in favor of gay marriage and it is doubtful that he would allow such a bill to go forward.
As yet there is no indication as to who these four Senators will eventually support. And there is some indication that the Democratic leadership may be willing to jettison marriage equality – at least temporarily – in order to achieve control of the Senate.
Senator Thomas K. Duane, an openly gay Democrat from Manhattan who has been a major advocate for marriage legislation, said, “We’re putting everything on hold until we fix the economy.”
And even were a vote to take place, there is no certainty that marriage equality would pass. While I believe some Republicans may be lined up in support, they may not be enough to outnumber these and other potential Democratic defectors.