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Lawmakers Maintain Divide Over Gay Marriage Bill

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As New Hampshire lawmakers legalized same sex marriage Wednesday, a lack of support in New York indicates the Empire State isn't close to join the growing list of states granting weddings to gays and lesbians.

An exclusive NY1 tally shows 28 of 62 senators are opposed. Just 20 are for it; 10 are undecided, and four still won't say how they plan to vote, if the bill comes to the floor.

When asked about the tally Wednesday, Governor David Paterson, a big supporter, said he didn't think the odds are that bad, but notably didn't appear convinced of the bill's passage either.

"I'm encouraged, but either way, I think it's really raised the specter of the conversation and I think it's the right thing to do," said Paterson.

On Monday, the bill's sponsor, Senator Thomas Duane, predicted victory even when asked about the NY1 tally.

"I don't know what to say about that. But what I will say, is that the bill is gonna pass, we're gonna have the vast majority of Democratic votes. And several Republican votes as well," said Duane.

As of last count, there are no GOP senators behind the bill. They are now under pressure on both sides from fellow Republicans and
former Republicans like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a big financial backer of the state party, and supporter of same sex marriage.

"I have mentioned my support for getting the government out of the business of deciding of who can get married. I just think it is something that should be decided by the two individuals," said Bloomberg.

"There's also lobbying for marriage from Republicans across the capital from the Senate who voted for same sex marriage when the Assembly passed the bill last month.

"This is a matter of being in America. There's no room for discrimination of any kind against anyone in this country," said Assemblyman Joel Miller.

Miller, a Republican from Poughkeepsie, also voted in favor of the bill in 2007, without later facing a party primary.

"And sometimes even if you put your political career in jeopardy, it's still the right thing to do and to do anything otherwise is a sell-out, it's pandering, and it's the wrong thing to do and I won't do that," said Miller.

Republican Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. voted against the measure in 2007, then changed his mind.

"I could never answer the question of why I voted no adequately for myself and for others," said Thiele.

Twenty-two Republican senators say they are opposed. Among them are the two senators representing those Assembly members' districts. There's also talk of the influential New York State Conservative Party threatening to withhold support from those backing legalizing same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, Bronx Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. demanded Wednesday that his fellow senators prove that a majority of the legislative body favors gay marriage before debating the measure.


Diaz responded to the claim made by Senator Tom Duane at a Monday rally that "there are enough votes, it's coming to the floor, it's passing."

"If Senator Tom Duane has the necessary Senate votes to pass the
homosexual marriage bill in New York State, then he should release the names of those Senators who are supporting the bill. If not, he should shut up," said Diaz in a statement.

Diaz also said that senators who did not publicly voice their support for the bill were "ashamed to be publicly associated with the gay community."

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