Monday, June 8, 2009

New York Marriage Bill Still Up in the Air with Senators Undecided

The drama behind the senate vote for marriage equality continues. Just recently Senator Andrew Lanza announced that he would vote against the bill, increasing the tally of votes against it to 29 versus 20 in favor (9 are undecided with 4 not saying anything at all). Bill sponsor Sen. Duane announced he had enough votes to get it passed, though this has been hotly disputed.

However, there's still hope.

Sen. David Valesky Friday mentioned reconsidering his recent stance in support of civil unions only to voting for legalizing gay marriage.

"I'm undecided," he said.

This is a huge turnaround since April when New York Gov. Paterson announced the legislation. At the time, Valesky said: "Marriage is an institution between a man and woman, and I think we can address the issue of benefits for same-sex couples without addressing the question of marriage, through some sort of a civil-union statute. That's what I believe we ought to be looking at, but that's not what's being proposed by the governor."

Valesky's change of heart stems from meeting with constituents on the issue, including those the bill would directly effect, with his telling the, "It's a sensitive issue."

Another glimmer of hope, though small, is in Sen. William T. Stachowski. The Buffalo News reports that though he's still saying he'll vote against marriage equality, mainly due to his conservative Catholic constituents whom make up a majority of his district, he's still willing to meet with marriage equality advocates. This is a sign to those on both sides of the issue that there's wiggle room for the possibility of his changing his vote.

The bill has already passed the Assembly.

Gov. Paterson isn't giving up either. His administration recently reached out to former GOP Senate Majority Leader (and his former boss) Joe Bruno, who is now a lobbyist, to reach out to the Republican senators. Bruno used to be a staunch opponent to anything LGBT, calling homosexuality an "abnormal lifestyle," but his position changed over the years.

Though Bruno hasn't agreed to it, a source told Elizabeth Benjamin at the New York Daily News, "The fact is, he has a rapport with the people [marriage equality proponents] need, and he's not known for being a right-wing fanatic," the source said. "This would not be inconsistent with his live-and-let-live philosophy."

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