An editorial in today’s New York Times strongly rebukes the state Senate and Majority Leader Malcolm Smith for dragging their feet on a vote on marriage equality and calls on them to immediately approve marriage equality.
Six states have now made it legal for same-sex couples to marry. New York is not one of them. Gov. David Paterson wants the state to guarantee that right, and the protections that come with it, and the Assembly approved legislation legalizing same-sex marriage last month. Malcolm Smith, the leader of the State Senate, insists that he, too, favors marriage for gay couples, but he won’t let a bill go to the floor unless he’s privately lined up enough votes. It is time for Mr. Smith and his fellow senators to decide this important matter in public.
There are few new arguments to be made behind closed doors. By now, the Senate’s 62 members have heard from every interest group. They know the polls and the politics. They know that New York is lagging behind others — including New Hampshire, where Gov. John Lynch, who had previously defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, signed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday. And if New York’s Assembly is any guide, once the matter comes to the floor, these senators will also recognize that same-sex marriage is a basic civil right that can no longer be denied to the citizens of this state.
Only 20 state Senators, all Democrats, have said they will definitely vote yes. However, openly gay state Sen. Thomas Duane claims that we do have the votes, much to the anger of anti-gay Sen. Ruben Diaz, who wants Duane to release the names “or shut up.” Although Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos has said that GOP Senators are free to “vote their conscience” without repercussions from the party, getting the necessary 32 votes does appear doubtful. Do your part to change that – contact your state Senator today. The New York Senate’s legislative session ends in two weeks.