Gay marriage fight in NY still an uphill battle
The numbers right now just don’t seem to be adding up for a same-sex marriage bill to pass in Albany this legislative session, despite a statewide push by the governor’s office.
“It’s going to be very difficult to make this happen until the Democrats have a healthy majority in both houses,” said Patrick Egan, a political science professor at New York University.
While a marriage-equality bill is just about guaranteed to pass the Assembly, it will be a tougher sell in the Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 32 to 30.
So far, no members of the Senate GOP have definitively said they would OK a bill if one were to be introduced this session, which ends June 20.
To complicate matters, three Democrats aren’t committed to voting yes, while a fourth, Ruben Diaz, Sr., of the Bronx, is staunchly against the proposal.
At least one of the wavering Democrats, Joe Addabbo of Queens, and two undecided GOPers, Greg Ball of Putnam County and James Alesi of Monroe County, all told amNewYork that they are polling their constituents before making a final decision.
In the best case scenario, even if the three Democrats aligned with the rest of the party, three Republican senators would still be needed.
Brian Ellner, of the Human Rights Campaign, which supports gay marriage, said there are still enough undecided votes to keep the issue alive.
“I fully expect our state Senate will support equality and fairness,” said Ellner, whose group has stepped up its campaign in recent weeks, turning out a slew of celebrity supporters, including former President Bill Clinton, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and Rangers player Sean Avery.
Some gay marriage advocates, however, are getting agitated that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not doing enough to sway the undecided legislators. He has been criss-crossing the state touting his “People First” agenda, which among other things presses for same-sex marriage.
“You can’t just pay lip service,” said Natasha Dillon, of activist group Queer Rising. “We’re not done holding the fire to Cuomo’s feet.”
Cuomo’s office did not return calls seeking comment. At a rally earlier this week, the governor said that he’s doing “everything I can."