For the first time New York Senate
Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith has admitted he does not have the
votes to pass gay marriage in the Senate this year.
The leader's comments came at a
Manhattan Human Rights Campaign fund-raiser on Saturday, the New
York Times is reporting. The HRC is the nation's largest gay and
lesbian rights advocate.
“I know one of your top priorities is
the recognition of marriage between same-sex couples – something
that I strongly support, something that I believe in and something
that we will make happen together,” he said.
“Hold up,” he added, calming a roar
of applause from the crowd.
“Although we do not have the number
of votes at this time needed to pass the marriage equality gender
bill this legislative session, we are committed to pursuing its
passage. And the question is not if; the question is when. So our
work still needs to happen for it to happen this year. But I'm going
to need your help, and I'm going to need your prayers.”
After the speech, Smith told a
reporter: “The fact of the matter is we don't have the votes right
now. So I'm working hard to get the votes.”
Smith's ascension to Senate leader came
after a bruising fight over gay marriage.
Three senators – freshman Senator
Pedro Espada Jr., Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, and Senator
Carl Krugen of Brooklyn – were threatening to leave the Democratic
Party if Senator Smith, who has promised to bring a gay marriage bill
to a vote, would be made leader of the chamber.
After Governor David Paterson (D)
announced a compromise had been reached, gay rights groups feared the
gay marriage bill had been traded away in an effort to secure the
political support of the so-called “gang of three.”
In the end, Smith wrestled into control
and has since promised that the gay marriage bill was not
compromised. His latest comments suggest that not all 32 Democrats
are on board with gay marriage in the Senate where the Party captured
a two seat majority (32-30) on November 4.
“We're still counting votes and
lobbying,” Democratic Senator Thomas K. Duane, who attended
Saturday's fund-raiser, said. “I'd say the situation is very