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The State Senate didn’t heed the call to approve gay marriage Wednesday as they voted the measure down 38 to 24, despite a rally by Brooklyn senators.
Vote tallies show that seven of the nine Senators who represent the borough voted in favor of gay marriage. The two holdouts included Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden -- a Republican -- and Mill Basin State Senator Carl Kruger.
The outcome of the Marriage Equality Bill vote disappointed many Downtown Brooklyn legislators, including freshman Brooklyn Heights State Senator Daniel Squadron.
“I have never seen such powerful and personal arguments on the Senate floor followed by such a disappointing vote,” said Squadron, a longtime supporter of gay marriage. “Today was hard, but we are going to get marriage equality passed in this state.”
Although senators knew that they didn’t have the 32 votes to carry the bill, they remained hopeful for a last minute change of heart from senate Republicans, Squadron explained.
“We just have to regroup and keep pushing until we get the 32 votes needed to support the bill,” he said.
Kruger said that while he personally supports extending marriage rights and privileges to any couple “who share a common roof” he had to listen to his constituents.
“The district I represent is very conservative, religious and very traditional,” he said. “I must have gotten thousands of letters and emails urging me to vote against it. There is a resounding sentiment [against gay marriage] in the district.”
“I believe one of the responsibilities of government legislators is to put their personal feelings aside and do what their constituency wants to the best of their ability. While there is always going to be a faction that is not going to agree, I dare anyone to take a walk around the district and see what my constituents want. Their view is going to be congruent with the way I voted.”
The Assembly voted in favor of the Marriage Equality bill twice. This was the first time the bill was called for a vote in the state senate, which was under Republican control until this year.
Yet despite Tuesday’s outcome, LGBT advocates took pride in the fact that a debate on gay marriage was finally held on the Senate floor.
“In general we’re happy that a debate took place in a public forum and that people stood and were counted,” said Mary Cooley, co-president of the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s leading LGBT political club. “It’s made us more focused.”
“We had long called for a public debate on this matter so we could determine who was truly on our side,” added Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, who has been lobbying Albany for months on this issue.
“[The vote] is a step forward for our democratic process in New York. Now we know where we stand, and where we need to concentrate our efforts in the future.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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