Rev. Emily C. Heath

Live Updates from Albany: NY Marriage Vote

Filed By Rev. Emily C. Heath | June 22, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Albany, gay marriage, marriage equality, New York gay marriage, 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.

9:45am - Just arrived at the Capitol. There are already some opposition members in the hall outside the chamber holding signs. Queer Rising is here. Last night they placed their signs outside the door of the gallery last night, and when they came out they were gone.

Sen. Skelos just came out and said they are still arguing language on rent control. He brushed off questions on marriage.

We need people here. We are outnumbered by a very vocal and present minority.

Please forgive iPhone brevity.

9:54am - A 9 year old supporter: Going to face anti-equality folks alone. We need a presence.


More updates and photos after the break.

9:55am - Opposition forming gauntlet to Senate chambers.


9:58am - On the little girl: By alone, I mean with one adult. She had supervision.

10:15am - A man we believe was a Senate Sgt. at Arms just came out, waved to anti-equality folks and made music conducting motions with his hands in support of them.

10:23am - Singing and preaching continues. The pastor who accosted me in the hall on Monday is leading them.

Tea Party folks just arrived. More of our folks are coming. Skelos read my sign aloud as he passed, in a flat tone: "Christian clergy for equality". No sense of what he thought.

10:48am - Chants of "gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right" being met with "no way". You be the judge of what they mean.

11:18am - Anti-gay protesters actively and angrily engaging us today. One man asked my church affiliation. When I said, "United Church of Christ" he said, "I thought you were the good Christians." I replied, "We are." Later he told me I wasn't a good Christian and should study my Bible. The irony is I did for three years in seminary in the original languages and under pre-eminent scholars, and never heard a thing about equal marriage. He just came up to me, put his hands on me and asked, "Why are you singing with (the gay folks) if you're a Christian." I told him to please stop coming up to me, and he came back again.

The same man who angrily challenged me the other day confronted a seminarian and told her she would be judged for being a false prophet.

Earlier this week a 9 year old daughter of an ally was being photographed repeatedly.

Troopers say they can do nothing about protesters following us, touching us, etc. unless there is a direct physical threat.

11:30am - Just heard they are still negotiating internally.

Coalition of groups working for equality have sent flowers to supportive senators and are giving them to pro-equality protesters.

Protests are intense. For perspective, I was at the Georgia Capitol on the day they voted to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag, and it wasn't even close to this.

11:38am - Audra McDonald is here from "Private Practice" and is giving eloquent interviews in support of us. "We are not asking them to believe any different. We are just asking them to respect our rights.

Mario Batali is also here giving supportive interviews.

11:45am - Word is Republican swing votes are in conference now.

12:02pm - I just heard some staff from equality groups talking about going back to their hotels, and now we are hearing murmurs of "tomorrow". Apparently the bill is not on the active calendar for today. Also hearing that Skelos wants to wrap things up. Trying to find out.

12:11pm - The pastor who has been so aggressive with me is now holding a sign saying, "God can heal the homosexual. He healed me."

12:27pm - Senate is standing at ease. Some say vote may come today. Others are giving up hope.

In other news, NY Senate just declares today "State Onion Day".

12:44pm - We are hearing "late tonight, if at all".

1:13pm - Ruben Diaz is leading what is being termed as a "revival" on 3rd floor. Rules committee meeting in about an hour.

1:30pm - Not much new to report. I asked a friend who is from Mass. if these rallies were as scary as the ones there during that vote. She said, "Worse."

2:12pm - Word is Skelos, Silver and Cuomo are in caucus now. No word on what.

2:52pm - Chants of "Vote today!", but no word.

2:59pm - Word is spreading that the Senate now has the necessary 32 votes. The issue now is getting it to a vote. Call Skelos now!

3:08pm - There is a rumor we have the 32nd vote. Not sure how accurate yet. If we do, the issue is getting it to a vote.

3:12pm - A whole bunch of troopers just filled the halls.

3:43pm - Multiple but unverified reports that we have the votes, and possibly a surplus. There are predictions of a late night vote. Please call Skelos and ask him to bring it to a vote. (518) 455-3171

4:00pm - Protesters on both sides taking a break. I think we are gearing up for a long night.

4:13pm - Very important: Equality groups have received word that the vote is last on the agenda tonight. Anti-equality folks are preparing to send busloads here. If you can get to Albany, come now!

4:13pm - The fear now is that the GOP will try to kill the bill and not have a vote. We are also hearing that they are not revealing the 32nd vote yet because they are trying to get commitments from one or two other Republicans to vote "yes". That way no one will become the primary target of opponents.

5:36pm - Hearing conflicting reports from different groups. One was confident of vote tonight. The other insists they haven't heard anything.

6:03pm - NY Senate is at ease. GOP conference at 6:15, Rules at 7:30, Senate won't reconvene until after that.

6:16pm - We are hearing Gov. Cuomo will give an update at 6:45pm.

6:39pm - Everything is rumors right now. What I know for sure from NY Senate: it is not officially on the agenda yet. It may be on Rules'.

6:48pm - Cuomo: "cautiously optimistic". Same as yesterday.

7:02pm - I'm not sure how gay marriage kills...


7:11pm - All I keep hearing is "take all rumors with a grain of salt". I can say many staff members on both sides are getting hotel rooms tonight.

7:31pm - Just saw Sen. Diaz go into the Minority Leader's office. Not sure what's up. Could just be having dinner? Could be something more.

7:44pm - We are hearing no vote tonight.

8:00pm - Apparently they have to get the bills printed for the rent and tax vote. Marriage equality will come after that, if at all.

9:00pm - Queer Rising is reporting that the bill made it out of the Rules Committee. Awaiting confirmation.

9:05pm - It looks to me like what came out of Rules was a session extender, not the marriage bill.

9:23pm - Senate is going into rules committee. This may be the last rules meeting.

9:38pm - Senate saying that marriage bill is not currently even on the Rules Committee agenda. It doesn't mean it won't be, but that's where it stands. State equality groups are saying that the fight will continue tomorrow.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

"GENDA?" she asks quietly, before unobtrusively sneaking away.

GENDA's not happening this session. But hopefully this one is. A win for marriage equality would not only be wonderful, it would help GENDA.

Do you really believe that? A win for gay marriage is a win for gay marriage. It brings us no closer to gender...or further away. It just helps one group, while ignoring another. I'll celebrate if it is passed, because I'll be happy for the LG community, but I'll remain thrilled I live in Illinois, which already has passed a law that includes gender identity.

It does help the "T" community. It negates birth sex/present sex or gender expression from complicating "T" marriages. While it doesn't help the entire "T" community, it does help some parts, such as the original HBS people, as well as reducing the stigma of those living full time as the opposite sex while still retaing their birth sex parts.

First I think saying that heterosexual identified transsexuals need same sex marriage is pretty ignorant why not just say you think of them as being their birth sex? I'm sure you would like to believe that the excuse "but its not us saying it it's everybody else" is valid but it isn't when your giving in to them and reinforcing that belief. Second Massachusetts has had gay marriage how long? Wheres your Trans protections at there?


She didn't say "heterosexual identified transsexuals need same sex marriage", nor did she imply such. She stated that it would help trans people by eliminating the requirement of sex and/or gender from the requirements for marriage.

And, for that matter, the courts (and states) in more than a few places *do* think of heterosexual trans people as their birth sex, *regardless* of the status of birth certificate or surgery. It is certainly ignorant, but it does mean that in some places a het trans woman cannot marry a man, legally.

This sort of work stops such a thing from happening, at least in theory. So, in that sense, while it may not have much impact insofar as those other states, it would benefit trans people by reducing discrimination by ignorant and oppressive individuals in NY government who decide to enforce their own rules in their own way.

As for the efforts in Massachusetts, trans people can marry there with far less hassle than, say, Oklahoma. Regardless of what their BC or ID says. So in that sense, the ability of a het trans man to marry a woman is preserved there, whereas it is not, at present, in NY.

That they still allow trans people to be oppressed by cis folk in multiple other ways is a testament not to the efforts of gay people, but to the resistance of cis people (who can be straight, gay, bi, etc) to trans issues.

Well, Personally, I think they should be doing what the Assembly did - pass GENDA, and *then* pass marriage immediately thereafter.

The reason it is not happening that way?

Well, yes, we have the 32 votes.


the *leadership* in the senate is controlled by the GOP, which has a 32-30 majority. Our votes for GENDA are 29 Democrats and 3 Republicans.

The majority leader, State Senator Dean Skelos, is responsible to his GOP conference, and 17 of them are needed to ask him, in conference, to move the bill (this also applies to the marriage bill, which explains why there are problems with getting a vote). If they do not ask that the bill go to a vote, Skelos will not tell the Rules Committee to put it through, and the Rules COmmittee agenda is controlled by the majority leader.

For marriage and GENDA both, the fact that three Republicans favor the bill does not get 17 of them to agree that the bill should go to a vote.

The only hope for either bill would be for it (or them) to be tied to another bill or bills that are near and dear to the Republican majority, but won;t possibly pass in the ssembly which is heavily controlled by Democrats.

This is where the "three men in a room" thing comes into play. The Senate majority leader, the Assembly speaker, and the Governor, meet to do horse trading.

This does not always work. If the majority conference (currently 32 Republicans) does not want something to move in the senate, it does not move.

- for an article that is hot off the electronic presses ans quotes me on the issue, see - Excellent article on GENDA being "Lost in NY Marriage Shuffle" at

Now, it is a question of how much each "side" wants something as to whether a deal can be made. The best negotiating is made when the side that can appear that it is not desperate to get something will eb able to get a better deal from the side that is more desperate.

In the case of rent control, the democrats are more desperate because they want to avoid tenants going into decontrol.

In the case of the 2% cap, the republicans are more desperate because they want to appear that they are doing something popular (but really stupid without capping local municpal and school payroll and expenses and stopping the stupid "unfunded mandate" stunt that state legislators are famous for - pushing the cost of something wonderful down to the municipal level so the state legislators can take credit and the municpal goernment has to struggle to raise taxes to pay for the mandate).

On marriage and GENDA, Democrats are "more desperate" by virtue of the status quo being easy to maintain - there is not anything in the legislative hopper that I know of that could be offered for either of these. They have already dealt the 2% cap for rent control, I think, which means that marriage and GENDA are both dead except for the fat lady singing.

It will be the same thing in 2012.

But there is a silver lining for those who are patient.

In 2012, there has to be redistricting. Even though the GOP gets to draw the senat lines, they have to do it with the 2010 census fgures, and that will mean a likely 35 vote Democratic majority coming into office in the Senate for 2013. (We do need to work on the political campaigns.)

It may well be possible for a 35 vote majority in the Senate to bring up and pass both GENDA and marriage as early as January 2013.

Without compromises.

Without poison pills.

1) I thought GENDA had enough voves
2) Why did the LGb push marriage before substantial basic protections for trans people?
3) This was the single last chance the LGB had in NY to show they were serious after ESPA's dirty deals around SONDA
4) marriage pushes GENDA forward how? Worked like a charm in MA...

... or do you mean that all the gays will be so busy on their honeymoons and deciding on where to register they won't be able to control the message and drown out trans people?

I've asked before... why are we still a part of this?

See my response above to Tina (IL)

I think it should ex0lain a lot.

If marriage does get through, it will only because the Governor is spending his capital on it. It will mean some kind of deals.

Who knows what?

It could be pork barrel stuff, though that will be difficult because the state does not have the money. I was thinking something along the lines of repurposing prisons and retraining prison employees to keep upstate prison communities from becoming ghost towns. But still, where does the money come from? (Increase the fee for marriage licenses to include a state fee (the fee usually goes to the clerk who issues the license)?

and least I sound ungrateful...

How you guys win woo!!!!! gay marriage!!!

Actually, it's "gender neutral marriage,"

It makes perfect sense.

All the rest of the domestic relatiosn law has already been amended to make the law gender neutral. There are no longer differences in the legal treatment of husbands and wives for purposes of thingslike child support, spousal maintenance, etc.

This opened up the door to making the connubium - which is the "right to marry" as gender neutral as the rest of the statute. Since there are no differences in the respective legal rights of "Husbands" and "wives" there is an easy complementarity in a legal sense - no other aspect of the law needs to be amended save for the "right to marry." the rest has already been done, and years ago.

For my own marriage - I was able to get a marriage license to marry Trudy on a loophole, that of the error on my birth certificate assigning me as "male." That, and existing caselaw, was good enough for the City Clerk in Manhattan - but will it be good enough if the marriage is challenged? I don't know. And when I cross state lines, the issue will still eb a issue because some states are even more barbaric than New York.

Regarding coming to Albany, how late are we talking? Soonest I could be there is 10 pm.

We are hearing about 11. I'm not sure that's definite. None of this is. But that's the rumor.

We are getting conflicting information from equality groups about when/if vote will come.

And also, if we can't be there personally, what else can we do? Keep calling Skelos' office??

Come on, New York! Praying here in TN that our side did get the needed votes.

Rev. Heath, I just want to thank you for your updates today. No matter what the outcome may be later tonight, your reports have been a balm to me and to my network of friends as we anxiously await news on the status of the bill.

Dear Reverend Heath,

Thank You for your updates. As a Jew, I find it shameful that these religious zealots believe their religious liberties are being violated. I certainly would never force anybody to marry a member of the same sex. I hope Marriage Equality passes in New York and I wish I could be there (studying for Boards).