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What a tease!
The State Senate’s long anticipated debate over gay marriage slowly evaporated in front of everyone’s eyes Tuesday after the legislative body decided not to address the Marriage Equality bill, even though Governor David Paterson put the item on their agenda.
The decisive inaction left LGBT supporters in the lurch as they pin their hopes on next Monday or Tuesday, when the Senate is expected to go back into session.
Officials said that the State Senators went to the chamber on Tuesday morning, gaveled in and passed a few resolutions.
They then declared themselves “at ease” and withdrew to hold several closed door meetings about the other big reason why they were brought back to Albany -- the trimming down of the state budget.
The Senate popped their heads back in the chamber a few hours later to pass two bills -- one of which they had already passed last year -- before declaring themselves “at ease” again.
By 7 p.m., the Senate had ended their session. The Marriage Equality Bill had not been mentioned on the chamber floor, officials said.
“There were just not enough votes,” said one well-placed source. “There was no way they were going to get enough Democrats or Republicans to go for it, so it wasn’t brought up.”
Still, the lack of activity seems surprising given the renewed push to have the Marriage Equality Bill at least discussed on the Senate floor.
Last week, Brooklyn State Senators Kevin Parker, Daniel Squadron and Velmanette Montgomery all fired off letters to Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson, asking that the gay marriage bill be put on the agenda on November 10.
“It is imperative that this legislation is passed as numerous same-sex couples grapple with the psychological and economic strain of not having all their civil and equal rights,” Parker said in his letter. “The Assembly has already acted to correct this injustice and now it is time for the Senate to do the same.”
“By denying marriage equality, the state is denying them those rights. This is a matter of simple fairness,” he added. “The bill’s enactment would not only bode well for we as legislators, but for innumerable New Yorkers.”
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) borough residents have been pushing for a gay marriage bill for years. While the Assembly voted in favor of gay marriage twice, it has never been called in the State Senate.
When Democrats took control of the Senate in January, it was believed that the vote would finally been called, but the growing pains the new leadership suffered -- as well as the attempted coup -- caused the vote to be shelved.
A spokesperson for Sampson said that the Canarsie legislator has spoken with both Democratic and Republican leaders in order “to find a way to move the bill forward.”
While today’s idleness on the bill may not bode well for its future, there are those who are not giving up hope.
As this paper was going to press, Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, was still in Albany, trying to cajole and convince State Senators to bring the gay marriage issue to a vote.
“We believe the case has been made clear both for and against marriage equality and the time is now for the 62 members of the State Senate to give the bill, as well as the state’s LGBT community, the respect it deserves by debating the issue on the floor of the Senate and giving it an up and down vote,” Van Capelle said in an interview last week.
Even if the vote is shot down, the debate would raise more awareness and possibly more support for the LGBT cause, he said.
“No bill in the Senate was passed without Republican and Democratic votes,” he said. “We’ve always ended up with more votes at the end of the debate.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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