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One Vote Away

June 15, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted about a new state recognizing same-sex marriages.  Right now, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case in California over Prop 8, is making its way through the courts and nobody wants to upend the chessboard by bringing another ballot initiative during that process.  Iowa and four New England states recognize same sex marriages, but none of the largest states do, and that’s where we’ve stood for a while.

That’s probably about to change, maybe this Friday.  The New York legislature, notwithstanding the endless opposition of Ruben Diaz, is likely to go the right way.  Here’s what I understand to be the scorecard:  the Assembly already passed it once and is on board.  The Senate has 62 seats.  There are 31 votes for the bill announced already — all the Democrats except Diaz, and one Republican.  Other Republicans are in a bind:  though many of them are personally in favor, and though their constituents may want the bill to go through, they are under tremendous pressure from the Conservative Party.  New York, unusually, allows candidates to run on the line for more than one party at a time.  Almost all Republicans get the nomination of the Conservative party also, and many Democrats also run on Working Families line.  These ballot lines get votes, and many Republicans feel like they would be in danger if the Conservative party withheld its support or even nominated someone else.  Their best hope is to keep the bill from getting to the floor.  If they could block it, they wouldn’t have to take a vote that will mark them in history as bigots and offend moderate constituents, and wouldn’t have to defy the Conservative Party power brokers. 

Their best hope is gone.  With the strong urging of Governor Cuomo, the bill is going to the floor.  Media reports say that privately most folks in Albany think that if it comes to a roll call, the votes are there.  Between voting against equality on the open record and losing Conservative support, many Republicans would rather vote for equality and let the chips fall.

The Deep South and the Midwest can dismiss New York, and dismiss New England, but that’s bravado.  The difference will be felt most by the people who gain new legal protections, or course.  But the arguments that marriage equality is only imposed by judges start to ring hollow when the most populous state to adopt it does so through the legislature just like it adopts any other law.  And as poll after poll shows that the American mainstream has passed the tipping point and supports marriage equality, the prospect of more ballot initiatives like Prop 8 or the one in Maine that stripped people of the rights they won dims — that may continue to work in conservative states, but we’re probably already in a place where marriage equality in moderate states, whether won in the courts or the statehouse, cannot be stripped by referendum.

We’ve all seen these lists that circulate about things that have always been true for the incoming college class.  The thing I keep thinking is that when my children become adults, they will always have thought of legal recognition of same sex marriages as the norm instead of the exception.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 15, 2011 9:44 am

    I definitely agree with what you are saying. I really hope the bill passes too. Thanks for kind of breaking it down into understandable terms. The Prop 8 issue was such a blur when it was presented in the news.

  2. Hershele Ostropoler permalink
    June 15, 2011 8:21 pm

    Analysis, in lieu of anything constructive to add:

    I don’t think the Conservatives can really afford to withhold their endorsement from Republicans who vote for marriage. Those Republicans who won by fewer votes overall than they got on the Conservative line are, duh, not in strongly Republican districts. If the Conservatives support someone else, and people vote for the same parties they did last time, the Democrat wins, and Michael Long wants that even less than he wants marriage freedom. But I think Republicans who vote for the bill will peel of some Democratic votes (from people in the center, whatever their registration cards say, who want marriage freedom and lower taxes) and if the Conservatives don’t endorse people who voted Conservative will either stay home or vote Republican, and if the Conservatives dig up someone else to endorse the Democrat will probably win and a lot of people who voted Conservative last time will vote Republican (i.e., the ones who support the Republicans but vote Conservative to make a point; I’ve voted WFP on the same principle).

    • June 24, 2011 10:49 pm

      Ok, well, yeah. I guess now we’ll see if Long follows through on his threat.

      If so, Mark Grisanti of Buffalo may be the most vulnerable. I don’t know his positions on other issues, this may be a stopped clock thing

  3. Spiffy McBang permalink
    June 25, 2011 6:23 pm

    BOOM, got it done. Feels especially good because I’m from Buffalo (don’t live there now though) and I was pushing the people I know to blow up his phone, along with some of my friends who had admittedly a much farther-reaching influence than I since they’re still in the area.

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