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What about New York?

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Comments

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AJD
November 6th, 2008 | LINK

I have a really bad feeling about this. It might be lingering pessimism over California, but seriously, I don’t think this is a good idea.

I live in Brooklyn with my partner, and I’m not talking about hip and liberal Park Slope or Cortelyou Road. I’m talking about a neighborhood that’s largely Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish, Pakistani and Russian. On the floor above us lives my partner’s brother and his family, who are very conservative Christians. Needless to say, we’re not necessarily closeted, but you won’t see us holding hands and wearing rainbow T-shirts, either.

Not only that, but large parts of the city, especially Staten Island, are strongly Republican. And a lot of New Yorkers who vote Democratic aren’t necessarily pro-gay. The same goes for Upstate and Western New York.

I commend Patterson for being on our side, but this really isn’t the time.

Joel
November 7th, 2008 | LINK

How long do we have to wait till Mr. Diaz goes to heaven?

Mmm, latinos.. errr… doesn’t look good… doesn’t look good at all for gay marriage.

Well at least we’ve done some progress. Hearing about openly gay leades seems to be more common nowaydays. We just need some way of convincing the consevative ‘aleluya-praise-the-lord’ republicans to acknowledge some separation from church and state.

Ephilei
November 7th, 2008 | LINK

What a strange day that politicians aren’t supporting a black person because he doesn’t represent minorities well enough. But going all the way across the aisle just because of race? That’s too far.

@AJD What would a good time be?

Michelle
November 7th, 2008 | LINK

Interesting kettle of fish. I live in upstate New York and will be watching all this.

AJD
November 7th, 2008 | LINK

Ephilei, a good time would be when the religious right isn’t gloating about its victory in California and encouraged to attack gay rights everywhere it sees them. Also, a good time would be when those who support our rights have a more solid majority in the legislature.

Also, a good time would be when my partner and I have moved to Park Slope or the West Village, so we don’t have to worry about Hasidim, Pakistanis and/or Russians spray painting anti-gay graffiti on our front gate, slashing the tires of our car or attacking us on the way to the subway station as efforts to legalize same-sex marriage get them all riled up.

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