New York Senator James Alesi on Monday
became the first Republican in the Senate to back Governor Andrew
Cuomo's plan to make New York the sixth state to legalize gay
Alesi was among the five Republicans
who've said in recent weeks that they're not decided on the issue.
Alesi announced his decision after
emerging from a closed-door meeting with Cuomo and proponents of gay
“It was a political move,” Alesi
said of his opposition to a similar measure two years ago.
“I was supporting the conference vote
that I thought at the time politically was necessary when we were in
the minority. We are no longer in the minority.”
“I believe that if you live in
America and you expect equality and freedom for yourself, you should
extend it to other people,” he added.
Three fence-sitting Democrats –
Senators Joseph Addabbo, Shirley Huntley and Carl Kruger – also
announced their support.
The Democrats, who had voted against
the measure in 2009, explained that increasing support for marriage
equality among their constituents had convinced them to switch sides.
Addabbo, for instance, said that
support among constituents who contacted his office had risen from
27% two years ago to more than 80% this year.
“What we're about to do is redefine
what the American family is,” Kruger said. “And that's a good
thing. The world around us evolves.”
Senate Democrats are now nearly united
in their support for the proposal, with the exception of Senator
Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx. The Pentecostal minister is the
chamber's most vocal opponent of giving gay and lesbian couples the
right to marry and is
The announcements put proponents just
two votes shy of victory. Republican leaders are expected to discuss
the matter by Wednesday and a vote in the Senate could come as early
Republicans have been warned by the
National Organization of Marriage (NOM) and the Conservative Party
not to vote in favor of the proposed legislation. Both
say they'll fight the reelection campaigns of any GOPer that votes
for the measure.