Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BREAKING: New York Senate Votes Against Marriage Equality Bill 24-38

UPDATE 5 5:16p PST: CNN reports that Marist College poll released same day as Senate vote finds that a majority of New Yorkers support marriage equality 51-42%. Only if their representatives would've listened instead of voted with cowardice.

UPDATE 4 2:44p PST: NY Daily News reports lead sponsor Sen. Tom Duane's response. (H/T Towleroad)
"I wasn't expected to be betrayed, and so I have some justified anger," Duane said. "But it's just going to propel me to - I don't want to say redouble my efforts, because my efforts have been pretty strong - but I'm not going to let up."

I'm angry. I'm disappointed. I am let down. I'm betrayed. But I am not going away."

"Unfortunately, I think there was a contagious lack of backbone that occurred here today. And I’m angry about that and sad about that, but it was contagious. Similarly, the opposite would have meant far more votes than anyone had expected but unfortunately that wasn’t the way it went today."
UPDATE 3 2:21p PST: New York's largest LGBT advocacy group, Empire State Pride Agenda, responds to today's vote.

UPDATE 2 2:09P PST: NOM celebrates.

UPDATE: Rally tonight Times Square to protest today's vote, 6pm EST.

Original Post 12:00pm PST

After months and months of tumultuous back and forth power struggles, political maneuvers and looming budget issues, New York's Senate finally got it together enough to vote on the marriage equality bill. Unfortunately, they failed history and civil rights by voting against it 24-38.

These eight Democrats helped defeat the bill:

• Joseph Addabbo (D-Queens) - NO
• Darrel Aubertine (D- Cape Vincent) - NO
• Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) - NO
• Shirley Huntley (D-Queens) - NO
• Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) - NO
• Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens) - NO
• George Onorato (D-Queens) - NO
• William Stachowski (D-Buffalo) - NO

See the full roll call.

Openly gay Sen. Tom Duane, lead sponsor for the bill, opened the debate on the marriage bill by telling his fellow senators that voting for the bill will make him equal to his colleagues in every way.

Anti-gay Sen. Ruben Diaz, who was two gay brothers and lesbian sister, said a vote for the marriage equality bill would be "treason." He went on to list all the states that passed same-sex marriage bans, and then reminded the Senate that all the states that do have marriage equality only have it because a court ordered it or the legislature and not the people.

Sen. Diaz concluded by urging the Senate to let the people of New York decide the matter and then proclaimed, "This is the day that the Lord has made."

He was the only senator to speak against the bill.

Sen. Eric Schneiderman said this isn't about morality. "You can't legislate morality," he said, "but you can legislate justice."

Sen. Schneiderman went on to say, "Every generation is called to this quintessential challenge of making Thomas Jefferson's words more true."

Hear Sen. Schneiderman's speech.

Sen. Eric Adams believed Sen. Diaz was speaking "from his heart and not his mind." Then he went on to list states that sold "blacks into slavery" and said, "Just because a numerical majority is in one place, it doesn't mean they are in the right place."

Sen. Adams implored his colleagues to read the comments made against African Americans and their right to marry and they will see they are the same being used against gays and lesbians and their right to marry.

Ending his powerful speech, Sen. Adams said, "You don't have to be gay to respect the rights of those who are."

Hear Sen. Adams' speech.

Sen. Jeffrey Klein, Deputy Majority Leader, started off apologizing that it took so long to vote on marriage and said the senators should not be afraid to vote their conscience.

"We owe it to the entire gay community around New York to pass this legislation," Sen. Klein said. He went on to argue the economical advantage of marriage equality, stating that it will benefit New York to the tune of $200 million over the next three years.

Sen. David Valesky, who was undecided, asked why marriage equality was such a difficult issue. He concluded it was because it was extremely emotional and that senators owe to themselves to listen, to research and peel away the layers and get to the facts.

Sen. Valesky went on to say that marriage equality "can't be a matter of religion." Nothing on the senate floor "can be done in violation of the United States Constitution." The marriage bill could never, in any way shape or form, compel any house of worship to go against their religious beliefs.

"This bill is about a civil, legal commitment that provides benefits to same-sex couples and for this reason I will be voting in favor" of marriage equality, concluded Sen. Valesky.

Sen. Kevin Parker followed, stating "We have an opportunity to change our history. This is the time we strike a blow to one of the last inequalities in our country . . . Stand for marriage equality now because it is the right thing to do and now is the time to do it.."

Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. said, "If this vote was taken in my district today, marriage equality would fail." But he added that this wasn't about demographics. "My mind has been made up. It was made up a long time ago."

"This is a vote of conscience," Sen. Espada added. "I believe it is morally correct to vote 'yes.'... Let's not be scared into ignorance to think that it is not morally correct."

Sen. Diane Savino said she was nervous not because she doesn't how she was going to vote but because she didn't know what the outcome of the vote would be, a rarity for the New York Senate.

"This vote is about an issue of fairness and equality, not political," she said. "I hope we are going to make history here today." She went on to make a great speech about the farce the heterosexuals have made of marriage.

Sen. Liz Krueger said voting yes "is not a hard vote for me. I never had to think twice." Holding back tears, she said she knew about discrimination because she's a Jewish woman. "My religion says I must vote yes today."

Sen. Daniel Squadron said he wanted all New Yorkers to have the joy of marrying the one they love, as he recently did.

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery said that in the older days, religious belief dictated that people living together outside of marriage was considered sin. "For those of you who wonder why we should support people being able to marry, we do not want them living in sin."

"The churches would not exist without choir directors, many of whom are gay," she went on to say, talking about her constituents. "They would like to have the right to marry . . . I am going to vote so you have every right that every other citizen has."

Sen. Jose Serrano opened his speech by saying, "This is truly a wonderful day . . . Extending civil rights . . . will make our communities stronger . . . No one should be subjugated to less rights than anyone else." He added, "History once again will prove this civil rights movement to be right and correct."

Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who had thus far been undecided, for the first time declared her brother was gay. Her brother had disappeared from his family because their mother was a pastor and his parents did not accept him. After a long search, she found him and told how he suffered the death of his partner and the struggle he faced because they did not have the right of married couples.

Hear Sen. Hassell-Thompson's speech.

Referring to her sister who is now a pastor, Sen. Hassell-Thompson said her sibling would not agree with how she was going to vote. "No one elected me to be moral arbiter of their choices. But they did elect me to be a leader," she declared.

Referring to the many calls she received from her constituents, she said, "I am going to vote so you have every right that every other citizen has . . . I will be voting yes today."

Sen. Craig Thompson said, "This is about love and two individuals who love each other . . . this is about civil marriage!"

Sen. Bill Perkins thanked the LGBT rights movement for their vigilance and their push on the Senate to get them to vote on the marriage bill. "More than half the people in this room would not be here at another point in time. Marriage equality is here. And it is inevitable . . . It is inevitable that we will be successful . . . it is a change that is going to come. MLK is looking down on us today . . . I vote Aye."

Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer asked, "Some people have said to me [same-sex marriage] diminishes their marriage. I don't understand that. Why would it diminish my marriage?"

"Please don't quote the Bible or refer to it if you are not clear on what it really means," said Senate President Pro Tempore Malcolm Smith, who had earlier denied the marriage bill to come to the senate floor for a vote. "The Bible does not say that same-sex marriage is wrong . . . What's wrong is when you use the Bible for your own purposes."

He added, "When you experience discrimination, it hurts."

Openly gay and lead sponsor Sen. Tom Duane closed the debate. "To my [undecided] colleagues, there is still time to feel my gratitude in its fullness!"

Tearing up, Sen. Duane said, "Thank you for letting me have my rage . . . my sadness . . . my office is always a cry safety zone."

"The time is never right for civil rights. But the paradox is, it's always the time to be on the right side of history," Sen. Duane continued. "We are beating New Jersey today. Unfortunately, we are behind Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont - I may have left one out," he laughed. Well, the list is getting longer.

"I don't give up. I don't know how to," he went on.

Sen. Tom Duane had to stall the vote by extending his speech several minutes. Joe.My.God reports that the Republicans were pulled out and being strong-armed into voting against the bill.

As he voted, Sen. Diaz told his colleagues not to leave their Bibles behind and said he stood alongside Bill Clinton in voting against marriage equality.

Sen. Duane, when he stood to vote, corrected Sen. Diaz, reminding the senate that Bill Clinton has changed his position and now supports marriage for gays and lesbians.

Unfortunately, it appears most of the senators either clutched their Bibles or voted in fear for their jobs.

This is truly a sad day.

Audio supplied by Good As You.


  1. Senator Diaz should be removed from public office. He is obviously mentally unfit. Perhaps we need legislation to prevent devout monotheists from being part of government.

    The Bible should not be the basis of a Senate vote any more than The Lord Of The Rings should, because they're the same thing: FICTION NOVELS.

  2. I am literally feeling sick to my stomach.

    Such cowards! Only one of those who voted against the bill spoke. Do they not want to go on record in history as being bigoted homophobes? Obviously they know they're on the wrong side of history, otherwise they would stand up and proudly go on record.

    Instead they leave the chamber and allow themselves to be strong-armed and threatened into voting against civil rights in fear of losing their jobs.

    I say vote them the fuck out! Cowards, cowards, cowards.

  3. I would rather have the Republicans in control of the Senate than a Democratic Senate in which 8 Democrats vote against gay rights. Democrats need to be taught the meaning of a coalition. If they want gay votes and gay dollars, then they have to support gay issues. The 8 homophobes need to be targeted for defeat, ideally in the primaries, but if not then in the general election.