Paterson’s Gay Marriage Ploy: What’s He Really Up To?


David Paterson’s numbers are in the cellar. Quick, what might make people love him again? Gay marriage is on a roll, and New York is pretty gay-friendly — why not hitch his wagon to that star? To be fair, the gov’s been a friend to the LGBTQ community all along. But now he seems to be playing it up: he’s pushing for a gay marriage vote in the state senate — despite the near impossibility of passing any such bill.

Is Paterson really willing to push a losing marriage equality vote? Why? To save his skin? On principle? Or does he know something we don’t?

The Democratic majority in the senate is thin, and one of the terms of cooperation senator Ruben Diaz Sr. — an implacable marriage equality foe — demanded for his support was the tabling of the marriage vote. State senate majority leader Malcolm Smith has admitted such a bill can’t pass, and says now that gay marriage “demands much more than a symbolic gesture.” And our gay senator Tom Duane doesn’t think Paterson’s push is doing LGBTQ people any favors.

But what if Paterson knows a couple of Republicans who’ll go for it? It’s a long shot. There are Log Cabin Republicans, and New York has a good deal of them. True, they aren’t very effectual, but if a GOP senator who wanted to step out of line a little — maybe in preparation for a Congressional run, in which such a candidate might benefit from being thought more tolerant than the average Republican — he wouldn’t be entirely out in the cold. Republicans have been holding their line pretty well in the senate, so maybe minority leader Skelos could give one or two a pass on gay marriage as a reward for their compliance. It’s not like it would cost them a lot of money.

Oh, what are we saying? Who in Albany is going to take that kind of risk? And it’s not as if Paterson has displayed serious political chops heretofore. Still, it’s hard to imagine what he thinks he’d be doing for himself by pushing a bill with no chance. (He has said, “Why can’t a bill just be on the floor and lose?” but we can’t believe he means that.) Either he sees some daylight (figuratively, we mean) or he’s a historic chump. Neither possibility can be dismissed outright. Photo (cc) jcommaroto.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 9, 2009

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