New York Same Gender Marriage Bill Now In Hands Of Senate Republicans


toeivah-marriageThe effort to legalize same gender marriage in New York is getting an all-out lobbying effort from Democrats and celebrities, but there’s still no sign of wavering among a critical bloc of Senate Republicans who led the defeat of the measure and blunted national momentum two years ago.

Advocates for same gender marriage in New York, trying to revive the national campaign, may be just two votes away from winning in Albany in the closing five days of the legislative session.

Each side is funded by more than $1 million from national and state advocates that’s being used in media blitzes and in promised campaign cash for lawmakers who side with them. The effort, organized by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a top policy objective, drew three Democratic senators and one Republican, James Alesi, to the cause on Monday. Half a dozen senators remain uncommitted publicly and others could still cast surprise votes on the Senate floor, as several did in 2009.

 “Many of us thought that Sen. Alesi would be in favor it, so the only difference now is that he’s public with it,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, a Republican opposed to the same gender marriage bill. “So there’s not really a net gain there.”

The sole Democratic senator opposed to the bill, the Rev. Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, continues to drum up opposition, saying it’s his calling.

Meanwhile, CBS 2′s Tony Aiello spoke with a Queens couple encouraged by the developments in Albany. Together since age 15, Gabrielle Harmon and Jacqueline Cabrera hope the day is drawing near when they can marry in New York.

“God forbid a tragedy happening and you know, the person who’s most important to you isn’t able to make decisions for you,” Harmon said.

“We want to start buying a house and doing all these things but right now we just don’t feel safe doing so and it really, really hurts,” Cabrera said.

However, other New Yorkers are upset about the measure moving forward. Same gender marriage opponents rallied Tuesday at City Hall.

“I believe a traditional marriage should be between one man and one woman,” one protestor said.

“They have civil unions, they have all the benefits, this is something that’s spiritual, something that’s God-made,” another woman said.

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan blogged Tuesday that approving same gender marriage is akin to a communist country redefining other basic human rights.

“In those countries, government presumes to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values and natural law,” Dolan stated. He said “courageous” senators are facing a “stampede” of lobbying to change their votes. “But, please, not here! Our country’s founding principles speak of rights given by God, not invented by government.”

Legalizing same gender marriage in New York, the media capital of the world and a major tourist destination, is a critical win for the national effort. Same-gender marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C. But the effort has flagged since the 2009 defeat in New York, which surprised some advocates. Opponents are bolstered by defeats of similar bills in Maryland and Rhode Island this year, and recent polls have shown New Yorkers slightly less supportive of same gender marriage as the issue gained more attention this year.

Whether the Democrats’ stepped-up campaign this week in New York reflects growing momentum or a desperate effort to provide themselves some political cover will be played out by Monday, the last scheduled day of the legislative session. Republicans plan to conclude as early as Friday.

Cuomo said his bill is “roughly” the same as the one defeated in 2009 in a Senate then led by Democrats. Republicans won a 32-30 majority in 2010.

Cuomo’s bill was expected to be sent to the Senate on Tuesday. It will be discussed in a closed-door Republican conference on Wednesday, where the first vote count could be held. But as in 2009, several senators are expected to disclose their position only in the floor vote, a dramatic moment rare in Albany where most issues are decided by majority conferences long before a public vote.

Republican Sen. Greg Ball said Tuesday that “arrogance” on the extremes of both sides of the issue has stopped real debate and negotiation on Cuomo’s bill. The Democratic governor says the bill doesn’t include additional religious exemptions, key to attracting votes from Ball and others who want churches, religious groups and individuals opposed to same gender marriage exempted from performing or hosting same gender marriages.

“I think if the governor pays real respect to the need for religious carve-outs and builds that into this bill, creating a clear definition between civil marriage and religious marriage, it’s going to take the wind out of the sales of people like Jason McGuire who are against the bill,” Ball said. “To the extent that’s not done, I don’t see how you get it passed.”

Cuomo flatly said “no” when asked Tuesday if his bill will include the additional religious exemptions sought by McGuire, an Elmira pastor and president of the New Yorkers Family Research Foundation, who says same gender marriage damages children.

Just 14 percent of New Yorkers said same gender marriage should be the top priority of the Legislature, which also is wrestling with fiscal issues, according to the Siena College poll released Monday. But 55 percent of those polled support a same-gender marriage law, compared with the 40 percent opposed. That’s down from a high of 58 percent in April. The poll questioned 819 registered voters June 5-8 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Republican senators, however, are doing extensive polling within their districts and some said several upstate districts still strongly oppose same-gender marriage. Cuomo acknowledged that Monday but said statewide polls show support and the Senate should represent the whole state.

Republicans who vote for same gender marriage also will lose the often-critical endorsement of the Conservative Party, said party chairman Michael Long.

{CBS Chicago/ Newscenter}


  1. “God forbid a tragedy happening and you know, the person who’s most important to you isn’t able to make decisions for you,” Harmon said.

    Thats a lie. She can file leagal papers and turn anyone into her decision maker

  2. blogged Tuesday that approving same gender marriage is akin to a communist country redefining other basic human rights.

    “In those countries, government presumes to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values and natural law,”


  3. Honest reporting by matzav and please no negative comments. I for one am tired of the negativity and agendas of other “Frum” web sites. Come on,enough bashing already. Its sickening.

  4. We’ve got to keep pressuring Carl “I’m about to be indicted” Kruger not to cave in to Bloomberg.
    The key is in Dean Skelos’ hand, because he can prevent it from coming to the floor.