NY One Vote from Marriage Equality
After a second day of a lobbying blitz and propelled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s personal buttonholing of GOP senators, a measure to legalize gay marriage in New York drew to within one vote of passing, with at least two more Republicans still undecided.
On Tuesday, a second Republican senator said he would support Cuomo’s same-sex marriage bill, less than two years after he was part of a GOP-led defeat of a similar bill that dealt a blow to the national effort to legalize gay marriage.
Meanwhile, a federal judge upheld a gay judge’s ruling that struck down California’s same-sex marriage ban, saying his fellow jurist was under no obligation to disqualify himself simply because he was in a long-term relationship with another man.
In New York, Sen. Roy McDonald of Saratoga County announced he would vote for gay marriage, creating a 31-31 tie, resulting in no law. Thirty-two votes are needed to pass a bill in the 62-seat chamber. Several senators, however, still haven’t committed to a vote that could happen Friday, what could be the final day of the legislative session.
"My vote is going to be for marriage," McDonald said. "I think it’s compassion, trying do the right thing, trying to get everyone to live together."
"Our big state is big enough for everybody," he said.
When told McDonald would support gay marriage, Republican Sen. William Larkin of Orange County responded, "Shocking."
Fellow GOP Sens. Mark Grisanti of Erie County and Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie said they were undecided on the issue.
"It has nothing do with politics," Gristanti told The Buffalo News.
Said Saland, who voted against the measure in 2009: "My phone has been flying off the hook, both ways."
Saland said he knows of no other Republican senators planning to support same-sex marriage. But Cuomo, a Democrat, has met constantly with them, including an evening at the governor’s mansion and in private meetings. Several Republicans described Cuomo’s pitch as passionate and persuasive.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican who opposes gay marriage, said his conference will make a decision in a closed-door meeting, likely on Wednesday. If it does, he said a floor vote would likely be Friday.
"It’s certainly closer, but nobody else has told me they are definitely going to vote for it," Skelos said.
The measure, for the fourth time in two years, is expected to easily pass in the Democrat-led Assembly, where Speaker Sheldon Silver said he believes Cuomo has secured enough votes for passage in the Senate.
Each side of the gay-marriage debate in Albany is funded by more than $1 million from national and state advocates being used in media blitzes and in promised campaign cash for lawmakers who side with them. The effort, organized by Cuomo, drew three Democratic senators and one Republican, Sen. James Alesi of Monroe County, to the cause on Monday.