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Posts for December, 2009

Marriage Equality vote fails in New York Senate

Timothy Kincaid

December 2nd, 2009

The New York Senate has finally voted on whether to treat all citizens equally and has voted to continue discrimination. The vote was 24 – 38. Those voting against equality will be listed as soon as the breakout is available.

We have much work to do – including a strong effort to remove from office those who have endorsed discrimination and proven themselves to be enemies of equality.

On a personal note, considering the way in which race has been played as a factor in campaigns to deny rights to gay Americans, I was greatly heartened by the number of African American legislators who rose to make impassioned appeals in favor of this bill and to do so in terms of civil rights.

UPDATE: Elizabeth Benjamin has the list

The final vote was 24-38. Seven Democrats voted “no” – Addabbo, Aubertine, Huntley, C. Kruger, Monserrate, Onorato, Stachowski – while not a single Republican voted “yes.”

(It was eight Democrats – Diaz also voted “no”)

We now know those Senators who find civil equality to be in opposition to either their ideals or their self interests. Those who believe that some citizens are entitled to special rights that are to be denied to others are obstacles to freedom and enemies to the principles behind American society. They do not deserve to be representatives.

Where possible, our community needs to focus its energy, time, and money in defeating all of the Republican State Senators and the seven Democratic State Senators and replace them with lovers of freedom and equality of whatever party.

NY Senate is now debating marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

December 2nd, 2009

The New York marriage equality bill has been approved again by the Assembly (a technical step) and has also been passed by the Senate Rules Committee. Debate has begun on the Senate floor (HudLo.com)

The state Senate started its debate on same-sex marriage a little before 12:30 this afternoon, and the sides were imploring their colleagues to vote one way or another.

Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, who is gay and the bill’s sponsor, asked his colleagues to give him the same rights that the rest of the people in the chamber have.

Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, a major opponent of the bill, said the issue should be decided by voters at the polls, not by politicians or judges. He encouraged Democrats and Republicans—whose votes will be needed to pass the bill—to stand up for family values.

You can watch the debate live on the Senate’s website.

UPDATE 2: Debate is closing

UPDATE: Espada will vote “yes”

Pedro Espada was the central figure in the contentious power struggle over control of the Senate this summer. There has been some uncertainly as to whether Espada would support marriage equality or would barter his vote for the advancement of areas of his own interest.

Elizabeth Benjamin reports the answer:

Senators were just treated to a treatise on “morality” by Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., who urged his undecided colleagues to join him in voting “yes” on the gay marriage bill.

Espada held forth on his definition of a “vote of conscience,” which is what Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos has said he will allow his 30-member conference to take on this controversial issue.

Espada couched his support in terms of morality declaring equality to be the morally superior decision.

NY Marriage Vote Today? (Ctd)

Jim Burroway

December 2nd, 2009

Those of you who were hoping for a vote on same-sex marriage in the New York Senate yesterday are probably wondering what happened. Well here’s the scoop: the vote was put off until today. The Senate reconvenes at 10:00 am EST. The Assembly late last night re-passed the marriage bill. Taking another vote during this special session removes any possible procedural obstacle to the bill being sent to the Governor for his signature should the Senate pass in this session.

NY Marriage Vote Today?

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2009

There is a rumor floating in “the ether” that the NY State Senate will vote today on whether to have their state join those who have embraced marriage equality. This vote depends on a resolution to the state budget, an assumption that seem tenuous at the moment.

UPDATE 3: And… it’s been postponed until perhaps tomorrow.

UPDATE 2: It’s on the agenda. WKBW:

The Senate is scheduled to reconvene at 9 p.m., aides said.

On the agenda: the deficit reduction plan and same-sex marriage.

“We’ll vote on gay marriage if there’s enough time,” said one Senate staffer who asked not to be identified.

UPDATE: It looks possible. From the Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin

Here’s the strongest sign yet that the gay marriage bill will indeed come to the Senate floor for a vote before the day is over: Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., the measure’s most outspoken opponent, has retired to his Albany office to pray.

“I don’t know why it has to be done in special session. I don’t know why it has to be today. Is it going to be done? I believe so,” Diaz Sr. told me rather glumly during a brief telephone interview just now.

The Assembly is going to vote (again) favorably on the bill which seems to remove some procedural objection and increases the pressure on the Senate.

Gillibrand, a willing ally

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2009

gillibrandWhen Kirsten Gillibrand was selected to fill Hillary Clinton’s remaining term as US Senator from New York, some questioned the depth of her commitment to equality. A blue-dog upstate Democrat, she had previously spoken more favorably of civil unions.

But it appears that her commitment was not just of the ‘promises in public’ variety. Gillibrand is proving to be the kind of ally that doesn’t magically discover higher priorities or some mystical need for unanimity before acting on our behalf. (Daily News)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who has put LGBT issues on the top of her “to-do” list as she works to shore up her liberal credentials, has placed personal phone calls to on-the-fence Democratic state senators in hopes of getting them to vote “yes” on gay marriage.

Gillibrand’s office confirmed calls had been made, but refused to say who the recipients had been or if anyone had specifically asked the junior senator to weigh in.

“She made calls, yes; and they were private conversations,” Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter said. “She did it because it’s an issue she cares deeply about.”

Court OKs NY out-of-state marriage recognition

Timothy Kincaid

November 19th, 2009

When the executive branch of the State of New York determined that same-sex marriages conducted legally outside of the state would be recognized, anti-gay activists sued. Today the Court of Appeals backed the State. (A/P)

New York’s top court on Thursday rejected a Christian legal group’s challenge to some government benefits provided to gay couples legally married elsewhere and now living in New York.

The court rejected an argument that same-sex marriage was akin to incest and polygamy but avoided declaring that gay couples are entitled to all the rights of other married couples.

In a 4-3 decision on the narrow question of benefits, the Court of Appeals did not address whether the state must recognize same-sex marriage but encouraged the Legislature to settle the issue. The case was pushed by the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz.

NY Senate marriage vote within 50 days

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

Governor Paterson is telling media that the Democratic Senate leadership has promised a vote on marriage equality in the NY Senate before the end of the year. (Daily News)

Flanked by four rank-and-file Senate Democrats and ESPA Executive Director Alan Van Capelle, Gov. David Paterson this evening announced there will be a gay marriage vote at “a date not certain between now and the end of the year.”

“This is the first time that the Senate leadership has indicated that it will support a vote on marriage equality,” Paterson said during Red Room press conference that followed a meeting at which the question of bringing the bill to the floor to fail tonight was yet again discussed – and apparently rejected.

“This is a stunning and very happy development in this process,” the governor continued. “…I will continue to place marriage equality on any special sessions that I call on Monday and Tuesday because I feel that the bill should be debated immediately. However, I have profound respect for the leadership of the Senate and the process that they took to bring us to this vote.”

To the extent that the promises of the NY Senate leadership have any credibility whatsoever, this is very good news. Even if we do not win this vote, we will know the names of those individuals who are unwilling to treat all New Yorkers with dignity and equality.

And the Senate leadership will also get a valuable opportunity to explain to the community exactly how the community benefited from working so hard and spending so much money to achieve a Democratic majority in the Senate. Considering the willingness of New York gays to see the advancement of the community as more important than partisan power games or the career advancement of politicians, this should be a fascinating conversation.

Update: No NY Marriage Vote Today

Gabriel Arana

November 10th, 2009

News sources are starting to report that gay marriage won’t come to a vote in New York today. Gov. David Patterson had called an extraordinary session of the legislature to deal with the state’s budget crisis; a gay-marriage vote during the session was widely expected. A few things have stalled the bill, including the uncertainty of passage and the fact that its lead sponsor in the legislature, Tom Duane, has been out the past few days (his mother passed away).

New York Today?

Timothy Kincaid

November 10th, 2009

Governor Paterson has called the New York State Senate into a special session to resolve budget issues and pass marriage equality. Paterson has said that at this point he’d rather have a “no” vote – and find out who the opponents of equality are – than have no vote at all.

And I agree.

It is time for the Democratic leadership to stop protecting those who cannot commit to equality and stop hiding behind “a vote count”. For too long our community has been willing to give an out to “our friends” who are “in a tough district”.

But, as of yet, leadership is still playing the game of no commitment and no accountability.

Lets vote, Senators. Today.

Owens Wins Over Spoiler

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2009

For the past century and a half, New York congressional seat 23 has been in Republican hands. But when the local Republican leadership selected a candidate for the special election who supported marriage equality, that was just too much for some conservative out-of-state Republicans. Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Armey, and others built a national campaign in support of the Conservative Party candidate – all for the purpose of destroying Dede Scozzafava.

And, millions of dollars later and hours of talk radio ranting, that is all they accomplished.

Unwilling to accept a Republican that agreed with them sometimes, they handed the election over to a Democrat who would have otherwise had little chance. The final vote was:

Bill Owens – Dem. – 60,824 – 49.0%
Doug Hoffman – Con. – 56,450 – 45.5%
Dede Scozzafava – Rep. – 6,855 – 5.5%

(Even though Scozzafava withdrew from the race over the weekend and endorsed Owens, her name was still on the ballot and drew some protest votes)

But the extremists will not see this as a loss. Rather, they are delighted that they drove from the Party a long-time faithful and active Republican because she was “Republican In Name Only”. They embody the politics of exclusion, rejection, and arrogance. And if the Party caters to them, it does so at its own peril.

But although the most pro-gay candidate was driven out, there is a silver lining. Hoffman did not win. And when the extremists whine and moan about Nancy Pelosi, they will know deep in the back of their mind, that they gave her another vote. I can hardly wait for the day on which Owens’ one vote makes the difference on a bill they deeply care about.

Scozzafava Out, Hoffman Ahead, Republican Leadership Sends “Moderates Not Welcome” Message

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2009

dedeOver the weekend, Dede Scozzafava, the very gay-supportive Republican candidate for the 23rd Congressional district in New York pulled out of the race. Faced by a Democrat with heavy party funding and a prior-Republican-now-Conservative with financing from hard-core right-wing party purists, Scozzafava was not receiving adequate funds run an adequate campaign and maintain her early lead.

In many ways, this highlights the problem that moderate candidates face. If they are not perceived as being “our guy in Congress” for some special interest or if the party doesn’t make their seat a priority, it can be difficult to finance a campaign. Representing the moderate views of your constituency is all fine and good, but moderate positions are not much inclined to get the average voting citizen fired up enough to give.

hoffmanUnfortunately, the voters are now left with a choice between Bill Owens, an nonsupportive Democrat, and Doug Hoffman, a hard-core anti-gay Conservative. Scozzafava has endorsed Democrat Bill Owens but that may not be enough. Polls are suggesting that Conservative Hoffman may be leading in the now two-man race.

The most frustrating thing about the situation is that the right-wing extremists are now feeling justified and vindicated in their effort to destroy Scozzafava. They are “sending a message to all of the RINOs” (Republicans in name only) that they are not welcome in the Republican Party and that they will be driven out. Today Rush Limbaugh chortled that Scozzafava’s endorsement of the Democrat might lead to the “extinction” of RINOs.

Some Republican Party leadership had been showing signs lately that they are aware that moderates are needed in more liberal parts of the country in order for the Party to be competitive. But that may be more lip service than reality.

It will be interesting to see what they do. So far, there have been some very disturbing statements. (Bloomberg)

House Republican leaders embraced Hoffman after Scozzafava suspended her campaign. Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia, and Texas Representative Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement that they “look forward to welcoming Doug Hoffman into the House Republican Conference.”

Boehner and Cantor said in a separate statement they would support Hoffman to fill the next available vacancy on the House Armed Services Committee.

By promising Hoffman plum appointments, both Boehner and Cantor have sent the message that they will richly reward those who destroy the more moderate elements of the Party and drive out those who do not share their extremist views on social issues. If the leadership continues in that vein, they may well be successful in turning the Republican Party into an ideologically pure, but politically irrelevant, permanently minority party.

NY Assemblyman Calls for DADT State Moratorium

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2009

gregballWho is NY State Assemblyman Greg Ball?

Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) is serving his second term in the New York State Assembly, where he serves as ranking member of the influential committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions.

A former Vice President of Exceed International Development Corporation, Ball holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the United States Air Force Academy, is currently completing his Masters Thesis of Liberal Studies in International Affairs at Georgetown University and received an honorable discharge in 2005 at the rank of Captain after service as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force.

In case you missed it, Ball is a vet and he’s a Republican. And it is from that perspective that Ball has “called upon the New York State Army National Guard to put a moratorium on the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy affecting the military.”

I don’t know if the State of New York can unilaterally determine policy for the State National Guard – though one would certainly think that the founding fathers would have thought so. But, nevertheless, I like what he has to say:

“As an Academy grad and former Air Force Captain, I was honored to serve with the best and brightest of America. What folks need to realize is that some of the brightest and best in uniform are also homosexual. These folks serve honorably everyday, but are asked, forced really, to live a lie, and that reality in and of itself is a self inflicted security risk created by DADT. To kick brave men and women out of the military, patriotic folks willing to fight and die for our country, because of their sexual orientation, in an era when we need every serviceman and woman we can get, is foolish. The military is strong and resilient and can handle this change,” said Ball.

(hat tip Good As You)

Queens Man Brutally Beaten in Anti-Gay Attack

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2009

Jack PriceVideo was released yesterday showing a gay Queens man being brutally beaten by two men last week. Jack Price, 49, was harassed and assaulted early Friday morning as he was leaving a deli. The attack was was captured on video, as Price was subjected to anti-gay epithets and beaten to the ground. He was left with a broken jaw, fractured ribs and a lacerated spleen. He is in a medically-induced coma on a respirator.

The two attackers have been arrested. They are Daniel Aleman, 26, and Daniel Rodriguez, 21. Aleman, who was arrested over the weekend, has been charged with assault and aggravated assault as a hate crime. Rodriguez, who was arrested today in Norfolk, VA, has charges pending his extradition to New York.

New York Marriage Vote in September?

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2009

NY1 is reporting

Governor David Paterson will push the State Senate to vote on same-sex marriage during a special session in early September.

But, as we’ve seen, we shouldn’t make any assumptions.

NY Senate Stalemate Over

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2009

The stalemate in the New York State Senate is over in the same way it began. (NY Times)

The bitter standoff that has paralyzed the New York Senate for nearly five weeks ended on Thursday, when a senator from the Bronx who had defected to the Republicans returned to the Democratic fold, giving the party the majority it needed to re-establish control.

And now that the Democrats and Malcolm Smith have regained control, marriage equality has been taken back off the table. One ironic twist in this convoluted story is that there was an assumption that under Republican structured leadership, the marriage bill would have been brought for a vote. And it is even possible that there are adequate Republican supporters to make up for the vocal opponents in the Democratic caucus.

But the reforms that would have allowed Senators to bring forward legislation without the support and express permission of the Senate President appear to have been abandoned and the current Senate President, Malcolm Smith, has shown a stubborn insistence on keeping the bill from a vote. So it appears to me that marriage equality is dead in New York for the forseeable future.

Will NY Senate Stalemate End?

Timothy Kincaid

July 8th, 2009

In an effort to break the petulant partisan bickering that has ceased all movement on any legislation in the state Senate for the past month, Gov. Paterson has appointed a Leutenant Governor. The state has been without a Lt. Gov. since then Governor Spitzer resigned and Paterson left that spot to become the state’s governor.

The problem?

The move comes even though the state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, warned earlier this week that such an appointment would be illegal.

Meanwhile the state’s vote on marriage sits in limbo.

Heterosexual Menace: A Mom’s Novel Approach To Conflict Resolution Between Children

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2009

Maggie Gallagher, in reaction to the Frank Lombard case, admits that she is very mistrustful of men adopting children. “I have a bias in favor of mothers,” she writes. “I have a suspicion (let me be frank — I’m not proud, but it’s true) of men who want to get close to children while depriving them of mothers.” I guess when it comes to raising children, mothers really know best. We can all probably learn some valuable lessons from moms on raising children.

Like this dilemma every parent faces. What do you do when your nine-year-old child is in the middle of a long-running dispute with one of her classmates?

Well if you’re a licensed clinical social worker and a classroom mother at your daughter’s elementary school, you post a sexually suggestive ad in the “Casual Encounters” section of Craigist. And when throngs of sex-seeking men answer the ad, you give them the phone number of your child’s antagonist.

It just makes sense, right?

That’s what Margery Tannenbaum thought. She placed the ad with the headline of “Looking for a good time? W4M21″ on Craiglist. The ad read, “I need a little affection. … I  am blonde and very cute! I’ll be waiting!”

Next thing you know her child’s arch-enemy’s mother had to field at least 50 calls from horny straight men in two days before changing her number. Tannenbaum also ordered at least eight magazine subscriptions, a book and a DVD to be sent to the child’s home.

Tannenbaum was arraigned on Thursday on charges of aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. Her defense lawyer — he’s probably straight too, but we haven’t confirmed that yet — called her a “good, hardworking professional.” He also says “this is being blown out of proportion.”

This is outrageous, so outrageous I think it calls for some LaBarbera-esqe typography. Heterosexuals will stop at nothing in their thirst for debauchery! If you think this latest example is beyond the pale, then I’ve got news for you: this barely scratches the surface. There’s more heterosexual menace here and in our report, “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.”

Update: News coverage of the Long Island mom accused of sending sex-crazed men to her daughter’s nine-year-old classmate is apparently lacking what some say is a key piece of information: the fact the alleged perpetrator is a heterosexual who lives with a “straight” man. Where’s the media frenzy? Why do all these reports hide that important fact?

Okay, I’ll stop with the red ink. It makes my eyes hurt.

Majority of New Yorkers Support Marriage Equality

Timothy Kincaid

June 23rd, 2009

A new Quinnipiac poll shows that a majority of New Yorkers support a law allowing same-sex couples to marry.

New York State voters support 51 – 41 percent, with 8 percent undecided, a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

While it is news that support finally crossed the 50% mark, support from New Yorkers has been in the 40+ range for a couple years. But we can glean some other interesting facts from this poll:

  • Marriage is supported by both NYC residents (52% – 37%) and by Upstaters (49% – 45%).
  • Marriage is supported by whites (52% – 42%), by Hispanics (55% – 39%), and by blacks (43% – 42%). This is of particular interest because some NY anti-gay activists (Sen. Diaz, for example) have tried to make this a racial issue and claim that Hispanics oppose same-sex marriage. Additionally, it suggests that the much-discussed black opposition to marriage equality may be regional and that a winning approach can be crafted to appeal to this demographic.

The poll also asked about civil unions.

New York State voters support same-sex civil unions 68 – 25 percent, with support from all groups, including 55 – 37 percent among Republicans.

As stated, there were no demographics – age, race, religion, education, location – which opposed civil unions. The largest opposition, 39%, came from weekly church goers.

It appears that recent attention given to the issue – including anti-gay advertising by NOM – has only served to increase support for marriage equality in the state.

Marriage Vote May Come to NY Senate

Timothy Kincaid

June 22nd, 2009

The New York Senate may vote on marriage equality this week. And the vote may not originate with either Malcolm Smith, the deposed Democratic Majority Leader, or Pedro Espada, his Republican/Coalition replacement. Rather, the Governor himself may be forcing the Senate to vote on the issue.

The Governor has had it with the squabbling of the two parties and is ordering emergency sessions to force both sides to meet and vote.

Paterson ordered senators to stay in Albany Tuesday, and likely for several more days to take action required by the end of the month.

Pending measures include authorizing local governments to raise municipal taxes needed for budgets due as early as July 1, extending mayoral control of New York City schools and continuing to provide lower-cost energy to companies in exchange for job growth.

The Democratic governor also says he will require additional special sessions to force the Senate to consider other bills, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The constitutionality of the Governor’s action may be presumed by the fact that the chief judge of the Court of Appeals (New York’s Supreme Court), Jonathan Lippman, had made himself available to preside over the Senate.

Ummm… Perhaps

Timothy Kincaid

June 21st, 2009

Occasionally I’m amused at the disconnect between an article and its headline.

Today the Albany Times-Union has an article about the New York State Bar Association, the statewide organization of attorneys. The lawyer group has endorsed gay marriage as the “only viable way to establish marriage equality.”

The headline reads:

Bar group backs gay marriage right

Although, based on some attorneys I’ve met, they may not be that far off.

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