Michael Crawford

NY Gays Jilted at the Altar by Democrats?

Filed By Michael Crawford | November 29, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: gay marriage, New York, New York gay rights

Despite raking in big time campaign contributions from LGBT people across the U.S., Democrats in the New York State Senate may be backing away from their pledge to bring a marriage bill to a vote.

After a pledge from New York Democratic leaders that their party would legalize same-sex marriage if they won control of the State Senate this year, money from gay rights supporters poured in from across the country, helping cinch a Democratic victory.

But now, party leaders have sent strong signals that they may not take up the issue during the 2009 legislative session. Some of them suggest it may be wise to wait until 2011 before considering it, in hopes that Democrats can pick up more Senate seats and Gov. David A. Paterson, a strong backer of gay rights, would then be safely into a second term.

New York is one the states best positioned to legislatively achieve marriage equality. A marriage bill passed the state Assembly in the last legislative session. Each of the legislators who voted for that bill and ran for re-election retained his/her seat. Democrats now also control 32 of the 62 Senate seats.

Despite promises to bring a marriage bill to a vote in the Senate, some Democrats are now saying that it would be better to wait until after the 2010 elections in which pro-LGBT Gov. David Patterson will be running for election to a full term as governor. In addition, a number of Senate Democrats will be up for re-election.

While there may be some logic to that position, one can't help but wonder if this just a continuation of what LGBT people often hear from Democrats after we give them our money and votes: Thanks for your contributions and votes, now is just not the right time to pass pro-LGBT legislation.

The state is also facing a mounting budget crisis that everyone agrees it is critical to solve. But, as gay Assemblymember Daniel J. O'Donnell says, "Since when are fixing the economy and civil rights mutually exclusive?"

We have been told again and again that our quest for basic civil rights has to wait, that there are more important things that must be dealt with and that we need to wait for a more politically favorable time.

The reality is that there will always be multiple issues that will vie for the attention of our elected officials. And, if we were to wait for a perfect time to pass the legislative protections that our community so desperately needs, we will be waiting forever.

Elected officials who as candidates courted us for our money and our votes should know that our patience is running thin.

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eastsidekate | November 29, 2008 6:09 PM

As a new resident of the Empire State, it hasn't taken me long to figure out how things work in Albany (and city hall, and the county office building...). While I know many people consider most politicians to be corrupt, in many parts of the country, politicians are smooth enough to hide it (or, *gasp*, are honorable). Not here-- the corruption is so entrenched, it happens out in the open. There simply wont be LGBT equality on the books in NY until it is *clearly* in the financial and political interests of state lawmakers. This isn't a place where the "right thing" just happens.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 29, 2008 10:46 PM

It is up to us to push our elected officials into doing the right thing.

"We have been told again and again that our quest for basic civil rights has to wait, that there are more important things that must be dealt with and that we need to wait for a more politically favorable time."

Michael, I'm sure there are New Yorkers who feel just as I do and that is IF NOT NOW, WHEN? I know as well as you that the politically opportune time may never come if we just wait on it. The fact New York has a slim majority of 32 Democrats versus 30 Republicans in the Senate should not present such a problem that this issue not be addressed in this session. Is every Republican going to vote against us? If they are, then this is the opportune time to bring it to a vote. Get the opposition on record in a recorded vote. If there are two Democrats who join the Republicans, get them on record too. It's time we had a clear picture of who are our friends and who are not.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 29, 2008 10:50 PM

You are right. There will never be the "perfect" time. We have to take advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves and lobbying legislators to do the right thing.

It's about time this blog got around to this story-everyone else scooped you over a week ago.

But why are we leaving out half the story here? This is being held up by only THREE Democratic Senators. Three homophobic Senators from the greater NYC area. They are willing to stall the entire Democratic agenda because of same-sex marriage. They want a promise that no bill will even get introduced this session (because even without their votes, some liberal Republicans will vote for it).

But no worries. I am sure if we do lots and lots of outreach and beg really nice for our civil right, we'll get it.

That's the Democrat way.

Worst part? LGBT organizations keep giving them money.

Yes, 32 Democrats were elected to the NY Senate, however, at least three do not support the expected majority leader for various reasons. Also, these democrats are being recruited by the Republicans to caucus with them, thus keeping the Senate in Republicans hands. On an LGBT related note, one of the democrats is not supporting the expected majority leader because of his interest in bringing a marriage equality bill to the NY Senate.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 29, 2008 10:54 PM

I know. Gays in NY need to make sure that those Dems who are not supporting the expected majority leader feel the heat.

Democrats should be at the forefront of pushing for equality for all.

This is a direct and INEVITABLE result of the California debacle. There are some politicians, Dem and Rep, who claim to be open-minded but harbor a residue of homophobia that's always looking for an excuse to surface. There are others who are quite genuinely open-minded, but tend to go the way the wind is blowing. What happened in CA (together with FL, AZ and AR) turned the wind against us from coast to coast.

Everyone, from Obama to your city councilor is going to be very careful pushing gay-friendly measures of any sort. And in many states the theofascists are gearing up to try to take back adoption rights, employment and hate crimes protections and other recent lgbt gains.

In the NY Senate situation, ethnic issues and religious prejudices appear to be outweighing party affiliation. It would be nice to think that a couple of Republican senators might opt for decency and equality. But I'm not holding my breath.

Nerissa Belcher | November 29, 2008 11:59 PM

Gosh, promises support and then backs off to wait for a better time. Democrats in the New York State Senate for marriage equality or HRC and a fair number of gays for a trans inclusive ENDA? You decide.

There will never be an ideal time to fight for what is right. I say fight now for gay marriage AND an inclusive ENDA and if we lose then fight again tomorrow.


Give them no cash and no support and when they run for re-election work against them openly and effectively.