Over the objections of some legislators such as openly gay state Sen. Thomas Duane, who’d prefer to wait until we have the votes to win, NY Gov. David Paterson will introduce his marriage equality bill on Thursday.
Mr. Paterson has said in recent days that the State Legislature should move ahead now with the legislation regardless of whether it can muster enough votes. His reasoning, which some gay rights advocates have challenged, is that New York should make a statement that it is committed to treating same-sex couples the same way it treats opposite-sex couples. The announcement will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Mr. Paterson’s office in Midtown Manhattan, said people who were briefed on the governor’s plans but who asked not to be identified because they did not want to upstage the governor. The fact that Mr. Paterson is introducing a bill does not, however, mean that action in the Legislature is imminent. It could take months — even longer — before the bill makes its way through the appropriate committees and onto the floor of the Senate and the Assembly.
A marriage equality bill sponsored by openly gay Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell passed in the Assembly in 2007 and is expected to pass there again. The votes are not there in the state Senate, despite a one vote Democratic majority, due to a trio of anti-gay Senators from NYC. Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith says he will only bring the bill to the floor when there are enough votes to pass it, perhaps rendering Paterson’s move this week largely symbolic.
RELATED: Despite a honeymoon of popularity after replacing former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Paterson is presently suffering through highly negative public opinion polls which show that if the next gubernatorial election were held today, he would lose to prospective candidate Attorney General Andrew Cuomo by a margin of more than 3-1.