Live-blogging the NYS Senate marriage debate

by: Adam Bink

Wed Dec 02, 2009 at 12:33

Update 25: I will have a full vote count up soon.

Update 24: We lost. 24-38. Unfuckingbelievable.

Update 23: Monserrate voted no. After he supported the bill in City Council and when running for Senate. Fucker. Kruger, too, who was an undecided Dem. Elizabeth Little, a Republican, voted yes, which is great. A colleague of mine who told me this misheard.

Update 22: A "slow roll call" has been called. This is when the 2-minute announcement of positions and official votes occur. It's "slow" because you can take two minutes to explain your vote if you choose. Here we go.

Update 21: Sen. Duane, who is openly gay and the lead sponsor, is cracking jokes left and right:

"To my [undecided] colleagues, there is still time to feel my gratitude in its fullness!" Love it.

"[my partner] Lewis would be here, but who knew what day we were doing this?! How could you plan?! I know he's probably watching. Hiiii!"

"We're beating New Jersey! They may have the Jets, they may have the Giants, but we're beating New Jersey!"

"I once gave a pop quiz to a class- name 3 people you admire the most. Mothers and fathers, top vote-getters.

More serious note: "People have said to me 'now is not the time'. There's always time to be on the right side of history."

Update 20: Sen. Smith, former majority leader and now-President Pro Tempore, and a co-sponsor, is up. "Colleagues have asked me why I'm supporting marriage. When I asked back to them, why not, a good number of them would retreat to the Bible, and tell me "well, the Bible says it is wrong." What is wrong is not knowing what the Bible says and retreating to it. The Bible does not say same-sex marriage is wrong. The Bible is about fairness... what is wrong is when you quote the Bible for your own purposes. My suggestion to you, if you are Christian... is please don't quote the Bible or refer to it on what it really means." "I can vote yes because of my religion, because I can understand discrimination... when you experience discrimination, it hurts. When someone came to you... and said to you, in your face, NO, because of those reasons, it hurts, especially when you know in your heart it was the right thing to do. I have a colleague who worked for me, Shawn Thompson, my former deputy secretary. Him and his partner who are expecting twins cannot marry and complete their family. They are expecting twins! Everyone brings up religion. This is not a challenge to the church."

Also: "A win is not a debate on the floor. A win is 35 votes...(we need) to do the right thing for the people of NY."

Update 19: Sen. Stavisky went up quickly and said "I cannot stand here and oppose discrimination based on religion, race... and condone discrimination based on sexual orientation." Short and to the point.

Update 18: Sen. Oppenheimer, a co-sponsor: "Why would it diminsh my marriage? I don't understand when people say that to me." And oh boy. She's bringing out the Tikkun Olam reference. Go girl!

Update 17: Sen. Perkins, African-American and a co-sponsor- "I can see Dr. Martin Luther King looking down on us today and smiling upon us."

Update 16: General update- in terms of votes, no big surprises yet. All the people I listed below who spoke except Diaz (opposed) and Valesky are our co-sponsors, and all have confirmed they are voting yes. Valesky, a Dem from Syracuse, moved from being undecided to a Yes, which is important. No Republicans have spoken yet.

Update 15: Sen. Johnson, a co-sponsor, is up talking about how the bill simply requires a clerk to issue a license. Simple as that.

Update 14: Sen. Hassell-Thompson, a co-sponsor, talks about how her older brother is gay for the first time publicly. "First time I've said that publicly in my lifetime. His formidable talent... was not acceptable. And so he left this country and went to France. His formidable career was not something he could share with his family. I looked for my brother. My father worried but he could not ask him to come home, and so I searched consulates and embassies looking for him. Finally I got a response. He said, my father does not want to see me. I said, but your sister does, and your siblings do. And so he did come home, and made relatively frequent visits home. But he never could settle, and so he died in the south of France. And my youngest brother... went and brought his ashes home. He was not entitled to what married couples were entitled to... I am concerned about my siblings." Incredibly moving story.

Update 13: Sen. Jose M. Serrano, son of Rep. Jose Serrano and a co-sponsor, is up- "[marriage equality] will make our communities stronger. History will again prove this civil rights movement to be correct."

Update 12: Some folks have asked if the Lieutenant Governor, Dick Ravitch, can break ties. No. Only in procedural votes. We need 32 Senators, not 31 plus Ravitch.

Update 11: Sen. Montgomery, an African-American and co-sponsor, is talking about the institution of marriage as "part of the government contractual process... I want to remind people that if the minister marries you and you don't go to court, you are not married. So the marriage, really... is by the contract that is recognized and required by the government in every case."

Update 10: Sen. Squadron, a co-sponsor, spoke very nicely about religious freedom.

Update 9: Sen. Liz Krueger, a co-sponsor, is up, says she doesn't understand how anyone could vote no, urges yes.

Update 8: Sen. Savino from Staten Island, a co-sponsor, is up. "I am over the age of 40, and that's all you're gonna get from me, but i have never been able to maintain the relationship that [openly gay State Senator] Tom and his partner Lewis have." "We in government don't determine the quality of relationships. If we did, we would not issue 3/4 of the marriage licenses that we do." Throughout her whole speech I've been very impressed. A lot of folks talk generically about fairness and equality, but she has the ability, like I saw from Massa at our Netroots Nation caucus, to talk in anecdotes everyone can understand.

Update 7: Sen. Espada, the majority leader infamous for co-engineering the coup to flip to the Republicans earlier this summer, is up. He made me nervous talking about voting your conscience, but is talking about how it is historically correct to expand civil rights. "Let's send forth a message of hope by voting yes here today, and not continued to be scared into ignorance." Encourages colleagues to vote yes.

Update 6: Sen. Parker, a co-sponsor, is up talking about the benefits for the bill for gay couples: access to a partner's coverage under Medicaid and SocSec, ability to make medical decisions, right to sue for wrongful death, ability to sponsor one's partner for immigration among the major ones.

Update 5: Sen. Valesky, my boyfriend's state Senator from Syracuse, and previously undecided, is up talking. HE IS VOTING IN FAVOR. This is big, and brings us to 24 yes votes by my count. Need 32.

Update 4: Sen. Klein, whom my mother would take one look at and call a nice Jewish boy, apologizes to advocates that they took so long to debate. Word. Goes on to discuss how legalizing marriage equality would result in an economic benefit to NYC "to the tune of $200 million over a 3-year period."

Update 3: Sen. Adams, a bill co-sponsor and African-American, reads off a list of states that at one time or another sold blacks into slavery because of a vote. "Just because a numerical majority is in the right place doesn't mean they are in the right place." He also reads off quotes about how interracial marriage would be essentially the end of civilization, comments "thank God for Google". "The same statements being made about [openly gay bill sponsor] Sen. Tom Duane... are the same comments that my grandmother received." "You don't have to be gay to respect the rights of those who are."

Update 2: Sen. Schneiderman, a bill co-sponsor, references civil rights history and making Thomas Jefferson's words "ever more true". Points to MA, Vermont, Canada, NYS's next-door neighbors, which legally have marriage. Not to mention married couples living in NY as a result of Gov. Paterson's order to give equal rights to out-of-state married couples living in NYS.

Update 1: Sen. Diaz, a known opponent, is talking about how many states have voted against marriage and how many religions are against it. Awesome guy. He essentially makes the argument that we should do it through the courts, but if we did it through the courts, he would be saying it should be done through the people's representatives.
This is a live-blog for the NYS Senate marriage debate. You can also follow along on my Twitter feed.

Debate started around 12:25 PM EST. There will be four hours of debate on the bill, and then each of the 62 members will be allowed, if they choose, 2 minutes to explain their position on the bill.

Some background on procedure and whip counts below the fold:

Adam Bink :: Live-blogging the NYS Senate marriage debate
  • There is no clear time yet on when debate will start or sequence of bills. The deficit reduction package, which was expected to be needed to clear before a marriage vote, just passed this morning. Public authority reform did too. The Senate majority spokesperson named two other bills on the agenda. Live streaming video is here.

  • We need 32 vote for passage. There is a strong likelihood of passage, but I am very cautiously optimistic. A senior Democratic Senate staffer was told by Sen. Sampson, the Democratic conference leader, that he thinks it will pass "with a high degree of confidence". Looking at the numbers on the yes's, no's and undecideds make it likely, in my view, that we'll either win or lose by a hair. Now is a good time to make a last-minute call to your State Senator.

  • In terms of a whip count, there are at least 22 hard yes votes, all Dems. Aside from Sen. Duane, the lead sponsor, there are 19 other bill co-sponsors (Adams, Breslin, Dilan, Craig Johnson, Klein, Krueger, Montgomery, Oppenheimer, Parker, Perkins, Savino, Schneiderman, Serrano, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Hassell-Thompson, Thompson). Sen. Sampson and Sen. Espada, the Majority Leader, are also in support. I also expect Sen. Monserrate, who was supportive of marriage equality when he was on the NYC City Council and when he ran for the Senate, to vote in favor. That makes 23. Sen. Valesky announced during the debate he is in favor, which makes 24.

    In terms of no among Dems, there are 4: Aubertine, Diaz, Onorato and Stachowski are on record as opposed. For a variety of reasons, I do not have high hopes any of them will flip, but we'll see. A number of folks have listed Sen. Huntley as a no, but I have a very good reason to believe she is still undecided.

    That leaves 5 undecided Dems: Addabbo, Foley, Huntley, Kruger and Valesky. I have very good hopes on several of them.

    We will need, and expect to get, some Republicans. Robert Harding at TAP has a bead on the Republicans and some of the contours around the undecideds.

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What's your read on Huntley? (0.00 / 0)
I remember hearing her expressly say she opposes marriage equality.  What do you know that I don't?

Huntley (0.00 / 0)
Some private conversations I can't elaborate on.

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[ Parent ]
Valesky's vote is big. (0.00 / 0)
Here's hoping. We'll see what happens when the R's come up in the debate.

Espada is a fool... (0.00 / 0)
...but he voted yes. We at will still be looking to replace him.

Sen. Savino priceless (4.00 / 2)
This: "We in government don't determine the quality of relationships. If we did, we would not issue 3/4 of the marriage licenses that we do."

Love this, thanks for sharing it, Adam.

DC forgotten as usual (4.00 / 3)
Beating New Jersey? Currently the next in line is DC. If New York passes marriage equality today, they'll be leapfrogging DC, where the council had the first of two required votes to pass a marriage equality bill yesterday.

very true (4.00 / 1)
Obviously there are significant downsides to your NFL and MLB teams being so bad.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
so disappointing (4.00 / 2)
Why did they think they had the votes? Were there Republicans who suckered them into thinking they'd vote yes?

Join the Iowa progressive community at Bleeding Heartland.

Cowards (0.00 / 0)
Every Dem who voted No should be primaried, even if it costs us the state Senate.  Shame on them.  

Elizabeth Little (4.00 / 1)
I assume there was some confusion and she didn't actually vote yes? Reports elsewhere say that no Republicans voted for equality.

Correct (0.00 / 0)
My apologies, a colleague off the floor reported that she did.

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[ Parent ]
I think she did (0.00 / 0)
and changed her vote.

Andrew Lanza was a yes and changed his vote to no.  

[ Parent ]
Ugh... (4.00 / 2)
I think we should expect something like this for the near future:

* GOP will vote no, period.

Call it the further drift of the GOP to the extreme right.  But we really should right off hope of Moderate GOP White Knights.  They are flat out dead, and those who aren't are either getting bounced in the coming cycles or are moving themselves further to the right in fear of not only losing their seats but also of future upward movement in politics within the GOP.

* only GOP exceptions will be those with a family member who is gay and have a strong enough backbone to vote no.

These sadly will be few and far between.  The choice between "family" and "career" will come down far more often on "career" than we would think, even if they have to do a two step to try to explain it.

* Conservative Religous Blue Dogs Dems will vote No

There simply isn't any leverage to pull them into the Caucus on this issue, in any state or on the Federal level.  Call it their religion, that they're bigots, or that they're simply in constant fear of their careers.  They simply will never be folks we can count on in this.

Again, the only exceptions will be ones with Family members who are gay and have seen the light (or a different light).  Sadly, these folks live in constant fear of their jobs, and also love tweaking the progressive side of the caucus all across the country.  Family will far too often take a back seat to the job.

Which leaves progressives and what ever other elements of the Dem caucus that can be put together.

I'm side stepping otherwise progressive/liberal Dems who might have issues with gay marriage for religous reasons: Black and Hispanic members of the caucus.  I don't think at the moment we can always expect their vote, as seen in DC the other day.  I do think that over time if we better shape the Narrative as a Civil Rights issue, we might be able to chip away there.  The problem is that loud and noisy elements of the Catholic Church are making this and abortion their calling card, and that's a powerful force to run against in some Hispanic districts across the country.

One does wish this was an area where the President took more of a lead and that the trickle down would net some votes here and there across the country.  But regardless, I wouldn't write them off as areas where we can't improve.

With the GOP and ConservaDems, I hate to say that it's an increasingly lost cause.

It does say a lot about where we are that this loses 24-38 in New York.  I think that it will get lost in the reporting how wildly devided the NY Senate is and how strangely it "represents" the views of the state on this issue given that close party split.  But 24-38 is an ass kicking in that state, and really a massive setback.  Very discouraging, and perhaps a big mistake to force the vote unless the whip counts had been wildly different from the actual votes (i.e. Bradly Factor).  While we might say it's good to have "Names Named" of those who oppose so that we can target them, I don't see that as being as much of a "positive" as this taking the wind out of a lot of sails.

Honestly don't know how this will turn around.  We badly need NY, CA and NJ to legalize this as big states getting it done.  NY look dead for the forseeable future.  CA was utterly depressing.  And this vote might be a nail through getting it done in NJ before we have at least 4 years of GOP Veto to block it.

Does anyone expect the SCOTUSA to save us from this given it's current 4 Extreme Wingnuts + Mr. Unreliablity makeup?

Depressing.  :(


Cleveland suggests one way to deal with Af-Am legislators (0.00 / 0)
The city of Cleveland just voted for the second time on LGBT rights legislation.

The first time, it passed 13-7, with African-Americans voting 7-2 against.  The second time, it passed 21-0, with African-Americans voting 10-0 in favor.

The difference?

During the first campaign, no one really asked for African-American votes.  During the second, LGBT rights activists went door-to-door in African-American neighborhoods, getting over 1,000 voters to express support for the legislation, and then mobilized those supporters to lobby their legislators.

Three weeks before the vote, only 1 African-American legislator expressed support, but as the lobby campaign heated up, legislators flipped one-by-one until the day of the vote there were only 4 holdouts, and the night of the vote, only two (who both voted Yes).

Religious leaders still expressed opposition, but fully engaging the African-American community from the bottom up routed around the fear that those leaders would be able to exact a price.  Or, more precisely, it showed the LGBT community might be able to exact a higher price.

It doesn't seem plausible we can get every vote every time, but boy is 2-7 to 10-0 a dramatic change.

More here:

[ Parent ]
Interpretation of Log Cabin Republicans statement? (0.00 / 0)
Log Cabin Republicans said:

ALBANY, NEW YORK-In response to today's marriage equality vote in the New York State Legislature, Log Cabin Republicans Legislative Advisor Jeff Cook made the following statement:

"Today we share in the frustration and disappointment that the Senate did not pass the marriage equality bill. We are deeply saddened that the Democratic Conference failed to secure the votes they promised, undermining the possibility of a credible bipartisan vote of conscience on the merits of marriage equality. Winning marriage equality in New York requires the Democrats to keep their promises, and Log Cabin will continue to work to ensure that Republicans vote their conscience when that finally happens."

(bold mine)

Sounds like some Republicans agreed to vote for it, but only if the Dems had enough votes to pass it. When the Dems failed to turn out all the votes they said they would, the Republicans who would have voted yes bailed on us.  Or maybe I'm misreading.  Thoughts?

Probably close... (0.00 / 0)
It always needed GOP votes to pass:

* It's 32-30 Dem-GOP in the Senate.

* It's the type of vote that the Lt Gov couldn't break if it were tied

* there were Dems explicitly on record saying they wouldn't vote for it: Adam hit 4 of them.

Peel off just one Dem and it's 31 and dies.

Everyone knew that math.  

Clearly some GOP'ers promised to vote for it, and didn't.  It's likely that a few of the Dem fence sitters that Adam mentioned as well did, and didn't.

It's possible that the GOP Promisers were waiting for the Dem Promisers to vote first.  When Dems broke, the GOP threw their hat with the No's.

There literally is no risk in voting no for the GOP on this one.  One can can see the GOP fence sitters jumping back into what they see as the safe side of the pool when it was clear the votes weren't there.

One does hope that people talk explicitly:

Dem Senators W, X, Y & Z and GOP Senators A, B, C & D said they would vote yes, and went back on their words.

At the very least on the first group, but one would hope on the second group as well so that advocates know who can be won over somewhere down the road.

But we also all know that's not the way the game is played.


[ Parent ]

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