In a statement, Sheldon Silver expresses his pleasure that the gay marriage bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell and backed by Governor Paterson, passed the assembly 89 to 52. “This is a matter of equity and justice,” he say. “New Yorkers should have the right to marry who they chose.”
We, being employed by the super-gay Village Voice, tend to agree, and to also find encouraging that five Republicans joined the pink team. But as when the assembly passed a similar bill in 2007, the state senate will prove a much tougher nut.
State senator Tom Duane professes optimism — “There will be some ‘me-tooism,'” he says, owing to the increased support in the assembly and nationwide. And the bill contains language providing “that no clergyman, minister, or Society for Ethical Culture Leader shall be required to solemnize any marriage when acting in his or her capacity under his subdivision,” which may blunt the standard attacks from opponents that marriage equality is in fact an attack on religious liberty. (As the Daily News Times enjoyed reporting, Staten Island assemblyman Matthew Titone affirmed, “I am not looking for the right to force the Pope to preside over my big fat gay wedding.”)
But senate majority leader Malcolm Smith has said he won’t bring the bill to the floor without 32 votes — the minimum needed for passage — and has never reversed his judgement that the 32 votes aren’t there. The senate plans to start debating it today, anyway. But with gay-averse Democrat Ruben Diaz a firm “no” — in fact he’s going to rally against it at Paterson’s Manhattan office Sunday — and the Conservative Party threatening to blackball any Republican who votes for the bill, it will have a very, very hard slog at best.