New York's legislative session ends
Monday, but Governor David Paterson has already recalled senators for
an emergency session on Tuesday, prompting gay groups to launch a
final push for a stranded gay marriage bill waiting for Senate
approval to become law, the Washington Post reported.
Paterson announced the move at a Sunday
afternoon press conference.
“I will call the New York State
Senate … into extraordinary session on Tuesday,” an angry
Paterson said. “There will be no tolerance for noncompliance to
Paterson, who has the authority to call
for the emergency session and set the agenda but cannot persuade
senators to vote, threatened unending overtime for senators until
they complete their work, including weekends and holidays.
The New York Senate remains deadlocked
since Republicans led a leadership coup two weeks ago in which two
Democrats – Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of
Queens – crossed the aisle to hand the GOP control of the chamber.
But Monserrate later recanted his allegiance and returned to the
Democratic fold, leaving both parties claiming leadership, and the
chamber in disarray.
Republicans lost control of the Senate
last November after 40 years in the majority.
At the news conference Sunday,
Paterson, a gay marriage supporter, dismayed gay groups when he would
not reveal if he would press senators to vote on the gay marriage
“Not to include marriage for same-sex
couples as a priority for Tuesday's extraordinary session is an
insult to millions of gay and lesbian people and their families,”
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire Pride Agenda, said in
a written statement.
Hours after the press conference,
however, the governor reversed course, telling the New York Times:
“It has always been my intention to see same-sex marriage come to
the floor. I don't want there to be any confusion.”
“I don't want to do anything to
jeopardize it [the gay marriage bill],” he added. “But I think,
because of the activity that went on today, I am forced to reveal my
true intentions, even though the advocates knew them already.”
Gay groups see the extra innings as a
unique opportunity, and immediately began rallying troops Friday on
rumors that the governor was about to act.
“Now is the time to keep up the
pressure,” wrote Michael Cole in a Human Rights Campaign blog post
looking for volunteers to man phone banks in New York.
“Call your senator,” Cole urged New
York residents. “It's all hands on deck. … We need to spread the
word that history may be about to happen in New York.”
Democratic Senator Tom Duane, the
sponsor of the bill in the Senate, has said he has the votes to pass
the legislation, adding that his count includes several Republicans.
Last week, the National Organization
for Marriage (NOM), a national group that lobbies against gay
marriage, threatened to boot out Republican senators who vote in
favor of the bill.