As the Daily Show pointed out last night, the New York State Senate has indeed succeeded in taking on one of the toughest issues of the day: finally settling what the Empire State vegetable ought to be. (Corn.) But though Governor Cuomo just tweeted about some real progress — the long-awaited Omnibus bill has finally been delivered to the legislature — the Senate has still failed to vote on same-sex marriage equality. As the stalemate on the issue continues well into its second week, advocates, legislators and reporters are getting restless.
The Senate was slated to resume session this morning at 11:00 a.m. But almost six hours later, the GOP is still in a closed conference with no end in sight, and the Senate floor has been nearly empty. Only a handful of Democratic Senators have wandered into the chamber during that time. (One of them, the recently outed Carl Kruger, who now supports marriage equality, left a copy of today’s Daily News on his desk, which has the conspicuous headline “You Coward.”)
And after the GOP’s marathon conference, before anything is discussed on the floor, the Democrats appear ready to conference themselves.
At the same time, reporters are fighting for any scrap of information. Until the Omnibus announcement, the news highlight of the day was that potential swing vote Senator Andrew Lanza of Staten Island was seen “quietly” coming from Governor Cuomo’s office. The bulk of the day has been waiting to see if a bill — any bill, really — would even get printed, let alone discussed.
Meanwhile, activists on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue seem increasingly frustrated, but muted in volume and smaller in number than in the past week. The Senate galleries are full, but they don’t hold that many people, and the overflow in the hallways is minimal. Actions are less visible, as the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms has banned people from, well, lobbying in Senate’s actual lobby.
The Times is reporting that an agreement on religious exemptions has been reached. But every practical indicator seems to show that, as Pride weekend begins, the Senate’s main chamber is lumbering towards the end of the business day without even having been used once. There’s a whole lot to unpack in that Omnibus bill before marriage can be debated.