GOP Coup in NY Senate; What Does this Mean for Marriage?

Timothy Kincaid

June 8th, 2009

By the votes of two Democratic senators, control of the New York State Senate has been turned over to Republicans. (WSJ)

Republicans appear to have retaken control of New York’s Senate after two dissident Democrats jumped the aisle.

The flip of senators Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens gives Republicans a 32-30 edge in the chamber.

Within an hour of the overthrow, Republicans named Mr. Espada temporary president of the Senate and Dean Skelos of Nassau County vice president and majority leader. Mr. Skelos is the former majority leader.

This is decidedly unfavorable for Democrats in the state. However, it is less certain what it means for the vote on gay marriage. Espada was considered a “yes” vote for marriage and Monseratte was undecided.

Previous Democratic Senate President Malcolm Smith was holding up a vote on marriage by saying that the bill does not have adequate votes to pass. Some thought that his decision may been more related to deals made to keep in power and, if that did weigh on his decision, today’s action is definitely ironic.

It is possible that Espada, who remains a Democrat, did not have to make the same assurances in order to get his position. And it is possible that a vote for marriage may take place. From my seat on the other side of the nation it’s pretty hard to predict.


June 8th, 2009

I’m unclear if it’s the president pro tem or the majority leader that controls bringing bills to the floor. Smith was both, so I never needed to figure out the distinction with respect to that process.


June 8th, 2009

I’m pretty much guessing it means we’re screwed for at least this session.


June 8th, 2009

I heard that Espada is saying he is still in favor of marriage equality. Whether or not it comes up for a vote is a different issue.


June 9th, 2009

Seems doubtful. The impression I got was of ~28 Democratic votes for marriage and 2-3 Republican ones being offered under the table in return for, err, kindly district considerations at budget and pork barrel spending bill time. Problem is, that only added up to 30 or 31 votes. Rounding up the remaining 1-2 votes was the problem.

The game has changed for at least a couple of months now, if not until February 2011. I don’t think NY Democrats will have as much trouble regaining majority (and this time, real majority) in the chamber at the next elections. But it’s not much fun watching the relapse.

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