Monday, May 04, 2009

Same-Sex Marriage Passage Will Have To Be A Bipartisan Affair

When Governor Paterson decided to throw same-sex marriage legislation onto the State Senate this year so that they take a vote on it, many advocates were not happy about having to face a possible losing vote. Yet the governor, desperate to take attention away from his disastrous budgeting abilities wanted senators to take a stand, saying that the issue deserved a vote whether it be up or down. A few weeks later and the movement is closer than ever to having New York join Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and of course, Massachusetts. The only problem is that in the narrowly-held Democratic State Senate, a few conservative Dems don't believe in equality and that means a few good Republicans must be found.

From NY Magazine:

So who might those votes come from? Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, suggests four of the seven Democrats in the “nay” camp are actually movable: Senators George Onorato of Astoria, William T. Stachowski of Buffalo, David J. Valesky of Oneida, and Shirley L. Huntley of Jamaica. In 2007, Van Capelle says, Democratic Assembly members like Joe Lentol opposed the bill initially but ended up voting for it. “So we know that when we do the work that needs to be done, which includes giving the facts and telling our stories, people can change their minds.”

If those four come around, only two Republicans will be needed to pass the measure—though lobbyists hope for more. “Nobody wants to be the one person to change the vote,” said Marriage Equality New York head Ron Zacchi. The current legislative session ends June 22, so there’s still time for persuading. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith has said already he won’t let the measure hit the floor unless the votes are there.

Two Republicans immediately come to mind. Senator Thomas P. Morahan of Rockland County told the Times through a spokesman that he’s “not going to come out one way or the other,” which supporters view as promising. And though Senator Kemp Hannon of Nassau County told the paper that he’s inclined to oppose the bill, he added that it “deserves serious consideration.” To lobby groups, that’s the definition of “movable.” (Several others have yet to say anything about their positions.)

If a Republican can't commit to saying no on the matter, that is definitely a good sign. With the Republican leadership allowing members to vote their conscience and not to party loyalty, it is open season for citizens to lobby their senators so that they vote the morally correct way. Northeast Republicans, at least what is left of them, realize that trying to act like their southern and western compatriots in the GOP is a losing proposition up here. So instead of legislating with thoughts of hate, intolerance and bigotry, they have a chance to do the right thing and spread equality to same sex couples that only want the same rights that straight couples have. This shouldn't be a partisan issue, it is a moral one and because of that, a bipartisan affirmation of this bill would be a wonderful thing.