Rev. Emily C. Heath

NY Marriage Vote: Live Updates from Albany

Filed By Rev. Emily C. Heath | June 20, 2011 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Albany, gay marriage, liveblog, marriage equality, New York Senate, same-sex marriage

Note from Bil: Rev Emily Heath is spending the day in Albany to monitor New York's proposed legislation to legalize marriage equality. She'll be sending in dispatches throughout the day and this post will be updated as news comes in.

11:30am: Just arrived in Albany. The Knights of Columbus are protesting behind the Capitol with "support traditional marriage" signs. I saw a few equality supporters setting up. The news trucks are already out in force.

11:35am: In the Capitol now. There are apparently two different equality rallies going on in different parts of the building. Store [sic] turn-out from progressive clergy. A group of rabbis is here with equality signs, and ministers are holding pro-equality signs. But there are some anti-gay folks chanting, "God says no" outside the chamber.

Anti-equality clergy are leading the "God says no" chant. And I'm pretty sure one just called me "Satan". (I'm wearing my collar.) The progressive clergy are countering with, "God is love". A chant of "Give the kids a mom and dad" is being met with "Kids need love". Please forgive iPhone brevity.

11:53am: The word I'm hearing from local activists is that the Republicans are in caucus now. When they come out we will have some idea whether or not it will come up for a vote today. Some think it will not come for a vote today.

Photos from pro- and anti-marriage equality protestors after the break along with the newest updates.

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11:59am: In the area outside the Senate chamber we seem to be outnumbered by anti-equality voices. Conservative churches seem to have good turn-out here.

The caucus is supposed to break at noon. No signs whether that will happen. Everyone seems to think it's a toss up whether or not the vote will come today.

12:17pm: Anti-equality protester just pulled a sympathetic legislator aside. The legislator said that essentially all they could do now was "pray" and "they shut us out". I'm taking that to mean the caucus that is happening now, but I might be wrong.

12:23pm: Caucus has broken. They are headed to the floor.

12:37pm: Different info coming out. Some say the vote will not happen. Others are saying extended session. Some remain optimistic.

12:39pm: Ruben Diaz is speaking to the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization and getting great applause.

12:44pm: The opposition is singing "How Great Thou Art". Ironically, one of this gay pastor's favorite hymns. And now, "Amazing Grace". Do they really think queer Christians will be repelled by these hymns?

1:03pm: In the Senate chamber small rainbow flags are at the seats of supporters.

1:16pm Right now no one knows much. The anti-equality folks held an intense rally outside the Senate chamber with a very happy-appearing Ruben Diaz standing beside them.

1:32pm: Anti-equality protesters yelled at a 9 year old girl who was with equality supporters, "Hey, you got a girlfriend yet?"

Maggie Gallagher is here from NOM. There was talk of a rally against equality on the front steps, but it hasn't materialized yet.

Still waiting on word for a vote.

1:47pm: Senate stands in recess. Possibly reconvening at 2.

1:55pm: The anti-equality side is telling their folks it didn't come out of caucus. They are making arrangements to stay for the next two days for an extended session.

2:31:The word now is an extended session with a vote on Wednesday or possibly Thursday. Supporters of both sides are thinning out.

2:38: Just accosted by opposition in hall. "You're not fooling anyone dressed up that way. Try reading your Bible. You'll give an account to God one day."

3:06: Most folks on both sides have left. The rumor is talks with Cuomo around religious exemption broke down. We are hearing talk of an extended session.

A friend who was here today and was also in Massachusetts for that marriage vote commented on the crowd. We were much more out-numbered protester-wise than we were there. Also, a huge portion of the pro-equality folks were clergy. We need people from all walks of life here to stand up for equality the next few days.

3:51: Word is that Senate Majority Leader Skelos has confirmed the vote will not happen today. The best thing equality supporters can do now is call their senators and join the rallies being planned.

4:22: To confirm what a commenter said, I'm also hearing that it is being held up on a rent control issue.

5:06: A candlelight vigil for marriage equality will be held tonight at 8:30 on the steps of the NY Capitol. It is being sponsored by Queer Rising.

Some video to give you an idea of the atmosphere. Here are equality advocates being outshouted by anti-gay protesters.


Here are counter-protesters chanting, with Ruben Diaz, Senator and anti-equality minister from the Bronx, standing in front:


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Thanks for your updates, The NY Post is reporting that the negotiations are tied up with rent control and state wide property tax freeze. The session is being extended by the governor and vote may not come until the middle of the week. Of course, the opposition , the Knights of Columbus for one, is out in full force.

Tina (IL) | June 20, 2011 3:36 PM

Opposition to marriage equality is opposition to equality in my book. As a post-operative transsexual, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to marry anyone! Thus I have empathy for those in the "front" of the alphabet (L and G) who are unable to marry.

Pretty much everywhere you are. It's the whole access to jobs and housing protections that you and I don't have that I'm somewhat more concerned about than if someone says, "Since you're not legally married, I don't have to call her your wife." because, really, being non-op, I get that all the time with respect to gender.

Next time folks, how about an omnibus bill, and we pass it clean:

Marriage regardless of legal sex + a GENDA that has a broad definition of 'expression' and includes non-discrimination on basis of legal sex in medical treatment.

Rev. Emily, thanks for being eyes and ears up in Albany today. My tea leaves tell me that if there is a vote in the Senate, it will be:

(a) if the 32nd vote does not materialize; or

(b) on a bill with a "poison pill" added so that Democrats will vote against it (and if it passes, the Assembly will reject the modified bill).

The fate of both marriage and GENDA bills are with the GOP majority caucus in the Senate. Majority leader Dean Skelos will *not* move either bill unless his caucus is okay with it. It does not matter if the bill has 35 or even 40 votes - the majority caucus may want to stall the bill so that it does not ciome to a vote - this would essentially turn the 2012 elections for state senate into a district-by-district referendum on the connubium, or "freedom to marry" issue.

All other state laws relating to marriage rights have been made gender neutral with the single exception of the connubium right. Many years ago, there might have been no hope for marriage equality, because there were different and complementary rights and responsibilities for husbands and wives, mush as it existed under Roman law.

Originally, as with the Romans and Hebrews, it was only the husband who could obtain a divorce, and only the husband would get custodty of children.

Under the English common law, with a marriage, the "two become one, and that one is the husband" - leaving the wife in a state of legal rights equivalent to the civil death meted out to felons.

As with Roman law "in manua" - the wife would become the equivalent of a minor child under the care and custory of the husband.

The married women's property acts in 1848 and 1860 started the ball rolling on the changes to New York law that would ultimately result in the gender-neutrality of divorce laws, no-fault divorce, and the final chapter of extending connubium on a gender-neutral basis that we are all waiting for.

It's time the Senate takes this up - and someone has to address the historical aspect of this stuff on the floor.

A note on the video. I shot it outside the Senate chamber. That's Senator Diaz in the front. He was smiling happily at the anti-equality chant that was drowning us out at first, but when people started recording it he tried to stop it. The state police came in and tried to keep some order.

You did a fantastic job of keeping us updated, Emily. Will you be in the Statehouse Tuesday as well?

Yesterday was my day off, so I was able to be there. But today I have to do the actual work of pastoring my churches. Plus, I'm doubtful there will be a vote today while there is still this wrangling over rent control. However, I live close enough that if I hear it is coming, I'll go over and send updates.