Late Tuesday, the New York Assembly
approved a gay marriage bill for a second time, reports the AP.
Passage of Assemblyman Daniel
O'Donnell's gay marriage bill came as no surprise to Albany watchers
who say the real fight lays ahead in the senate.
The vote did serve to illuminate
growing support on the issue. Four Assembly members flipped their
previous 2007 “no” vote on the bill; supporters romped over
opponents in an 89 to 52 vote.
In the final tally, five Republicans
joined 84 Democrats in favoring the legislation.
“Thanks to the Assembly's leadership
on this issue, we are one step away from winning marriage equality in
New York,” said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire
State Pride Agenda, a gay marriage advocacy group.
Conservatives rallied to minimize their
losses. Lobbyists for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and
the Christian conservative Alliance Defense Fund continued to apply
pressure on undecided lawmakers, while Republican Party officials
promised retaliation against members who voted in the affirmative.
The New York Times reports that
the party threatened to “strip any politician who votes for
same-sex marriage of its affiliation with the party and its ballot
The Republican threat came as a
surprise to gay marriage watchers who believed the party was prepared
to make an about face on the issue in New York and allow Republican
lawmakers to make “conscience votes” on the legislation. An
April 21 story posted on the website of gay monthly The Advocate
quotes Log Cabin Republican Advisor Jeff Cook announcing the change.
“Republicans realize that marriage
equality is inevitable in New York and they do not want to vote
against this,” Cook said. “I think they realize that the polling
is changing very fast and they do not want our party to be perceived
as being hostile on this issue.”
Five Republicans ignored the bluster of
their party and voted in favor of gay marriage in New York.
“They are asking only for equal
protection under the law,” Janet L. Duprey, a Republican, told the
Times. “They deserve no less than to have the same rights
and ability to share their love.”
Still, no one ever expected a fight in
the Assembly and winning over the Senate remains a much steeper
political mountain to climb despite its Democratic majority.
New York's most vocal gay marriage
opponent is a senator from the Bronx, Senator Ruben Diaz. After
Governor David Paterson announced he would re-introduce the gay
marriage bill and personally shepherd the bill through the
Legislature, Diaz held a press conference where he called Paterson
“He's desperate,” Diaz, a Democrat,
said during a meeting of the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization.
“I don't blame him because he's desperate. He's trying to bring up
his poll numbers.”
“He's challenged the Christian
movement. He's challenged the Christian believers. He's challenged
the people that believe in the Bible. We are accepting the
Diaz has announced he will lead a
protest against the gay marriage bill on the steps of Paterson's
Manhattan Office Sunday at 1PM.
“I am satisfied with the response
against same-sex marriage by members of the community including
Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims and non believers,” Diaz
said in a statement.
Five states – Vermont, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, Iowa and Maine – have legalized gay marriage. In
New Hampshire, a gay marriage bill awaits Governor John Lynch's
signature to become law.