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Friday, November 6, 2009

NY Gov Shuffles his Legislative Deck for Equality

Governor Paterson of New York has begun to do exactly as I have said recently (see previous blog postings), to ensure he has a fighting chance to win his own re-election bid next year against Obama's wishes, the Same sex marriage ininitiave has landed on top of the deck with Paterson acting as the dealer.

The Democratic governor has issued a proclamation calling for an extraordinary session of both houses of the New York State Legislature to tackle a handful of issues. Specifically included is "marriage equality."

The issue has been on the front burner of the Empire State for at least a year. Paterson has been a vocal proponent of gay marriage. One of his first acts upon becoming governor was to recognize out-of-stage marriages as legal and binding. Paterson is an accidental governor. He was appointed after his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, was caught in a prostitution scandal.

Paterson’s action on behalf of gay couples married elsewhere effectively legalized gay marriage in New York. In addition, several municipalities, including New York City and the surrounding suburbs, already have domestic partnerships.

Actual gay marriage in the Legislature has been tied up in the State Senate. The lower house, the Assembly, passed such a measure twice, the second time by a large margin. But the Senate has only fallen into Democratic hands for the first time in decades with this session. Then, earlier this year, a cabal of more conservative Democrats pulled a coup that resulted in the pro-gay marriage leader of the Senate being toppled.

Paterson is not crazy, although he might appear desperate to prove the nays wrong about his political will. He has continued to champion the directive, significantly dated two days after an election that saw a Republican resurgence and the defeat of gay marriage in Maine, serves as a call to activists on both sides. He is looking to rally the nation and GLBT community behind him and ride it all the way to re-election...that's politics.

The proclamation mentions the following hot-button issues that the Legislature has been skirting: the state’s budget, in a state of disrepair; (1) a reform of the public pension system that some say is bankrupting the state and New York City; (2)reform of the quasi-public authorities, which have been a cesspool of party patronage; "and Marriage Equality." (3)There are some other issues, like drunk-driving laws, as well.

"The time to act is now. The Deficit Reduction Plan, while painful, is necessary to keep our state afloat," Governor Paterson said. A press release from the governor’s office added that the session is meant to address "providing same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples."

At least one state senator, in the Queens borough of New York City, has reportedly been considering relenting under the barrage of criticism, and may be changing to a "yes" vote.