Greg Ball’s All Atwitter at Gay-Marriage Bill: Upstate Senator Takes His Own Online Poll


Here’s what happened over the weekend with the gay-marriage bill, which the Assembly has already approved:

Publicly, the bill has the support of 31 of the 32 senators it needs for passage. Though he was considered “leaning no,” GOP senator Greg Ball (who represents all of Putnam County, northern Westchester County, and eastern Dutchess County) asked Twitter users Friday night how he should vote. In completely unscientific fashion, we looked at one point on Saturday morning at his 100 most recent responses and saw there were about 10 retweets, 88 “yes” tweets and two “no” tweets.

Not all marriage activists were thrilled by seeing a vote on their civil rights determined by a debate on Twitter. Still, HRC’s New York marriage strategist Brian Ellner indicated via Twitter that he found it part of a “respectful outreach to all senators to support equality.”

Whatever Ball’s motives or how he actually votes, his number of Twitter followers skyrocketed. An unscientific analysis of Ball’s Twitter traffic could indicate any or all of the following: that young people who tweet are overwhelmingly for gay marriage, that pro-gay-marriage forces were quicker to pounce on Ball’s call on Twitter than the opposition, or that anti-gay-marriage people are less likely to publicly state their opposition on social media, where it would be remembered forever.

No other senators on the fence — including publicly undecided Republicans Andrew Lanza, Mark Grisanti, and Stephen Saland — announced a change of heart over the weekend. Lanza, of Staten Island, did highlight concerns about religious exemptions in the bill, a point it is believed Governor Cuomo has been negotiating over the past couple of days.

The Associated Press called Governor Cuomo “the new face of gay marriage rights”. Cuomo has indicated a willingness to call a special session of the legislature if all state business, including the gay-marriage bill, is not wrapped up when it adjourns.

The weekend saw pressure on Majority Leader Dean Skelos to bring the bill to a vote. (When that happens, you can watch it live.) Among the more public examples of pressure on Skelos was yesterday’s rally in Union Square.


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