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15 July 2009


Nathan James

I hate to sound like a pessimist, but I can't see marriage equality being passed this year. Originally, there was a (backroom) deal between Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Sens. Ruben Diaz, Sr (D-South Bronx) and Sen. Espada (D-Parkchester) NOT to bring gay marriage to a vote, in exchange for bipartisan support of other Smith and Senate issues. Smith repeatedly said in the past that he wouldn't bring gay marriage to the Senate floor "unless it had the votes to pass". Last month, the day after some very well-attended Gay Pride events statewide, several "undecided" Senators threw their support behind the bill, in response to its visible support among their constituents. As a result, Malcolm Smith was about to call for a vote on gay marriage when the GOP staged their takeover of the Senate. Espada switched parties, as did Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Elmhurst) and the Senate was stalled for weeks. Homophobic Senator Diaz, a longtime opponent of gay marriage, threatened to betray the Democrats as well.

When Governor Paterson called the Senate into mandatory Special session, and placed gay marriage at the top of the voting agenda, GOP Senators flatly refused to address it, adjourning their session after sixty seconds. It is clear rrom all of these de velopments that the words "gay and lesbian rights" are still considrered too radioactive to touch in Albany, especially for those politicians whose districts are upstate. I think what is likely to happen in September, is a quiet agreement by certain Senators with Governor Paterson that in exchange for taking gay marriage off the table:

1) There will be no further challenges to his appointment of Richard Ravitch (D-UWS) as Lieutenant Governor, and

2) No further attempts to recapture GOP control of the State Legislature.

I think the only way we will see ANY kind of up/down vote on gay marriage this year in New York State, is if there is a referendum on the ballot in November. I know that when the rights of a minority are put to a popular vote, the minority usually loses, but what else can be done?

I have given serious thought to drafting exactly such a referendum proposal, and petitioning to get it on the ballot in November, because I just don't believe our self-interested, homophobic representatives in Albany will act on this.

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