New York Governor David Paterson said
Thursday that he would press for a vote on gay marriage during an
extraordinary session of the Senate he is calling for Tuesday, the AP
Gay activists have the support of
Paterson who has previously attempted to pressure the Senate to act
on the legislation already approved by the Assembly.
While the governor controls the agenda
in the Senate, he cannot force lawmakers to act. Still, senators
appears to be warming up to the idea of counting heads on the issue,
including Senate President Malcolm Smith, who earlier advised against
taking a vote until it was certain the bill would pass.
“There are obviously still challenges
with the votes, but you've got to bring it forward and let it happen,
one way or another,” Smith said late last month at a fundraiser for
Empire State Pride Agenda, the state's largest gay rights advocate.
The bill's sponsor in the Senate,
openly gay Senator Tom Duane, has said repeatedly that the measure
has the votes to pass in the Senate.
While Democrats hold a majority in the
chamber, members are not entirely united on the issue. For the
measure to pass, several Republicans, none of whom publicly support
gay marriage, would need to cross the aisle.
Tuesday's election results, however,
might have spooked the few Republicans who might have been
contemplating such a move. Voters in Maine rejected a gay marriage
law approved by lawmakers and neighboring New Jersey ousted its
pro-gay marriage governor.
In New York, gay marriage opponents
pressured a moderate Republican who voted in favor of gay marriage to
drop her bid for New York's 23rd Congressional District.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most
vociferous opponent of gay marriage, took credit when support among
Republicans for Dede Scozzafava collapsed. NOM President Maggie
Gallager crowed about her group's opposition to Scozzafava in blog
posts published at the National Review's website. Gallagher
said the group sent out 160,000 pieces of mail and made more than
250,000 robocalls to voters in the district informing them on
Scozzafava's position on gay marriage.
And NOM has promised similar
retribution to any Republican in New York who does not toe the
Whether the measure passes or fails,
gay marriage advocates say they want a vote to put senators on
"We look forward to hearing our
lives and our families debated on the Senate floor next Tuesday,"
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda,
told supporters in an email Thursday.
“It's now time that each of the 62
State Senators vote their conscience on this bill that has great
implications for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in all parts of
the state,” he added.