Yesterday, same sex marriage rights were dealt a blow as the New York State Senate decisively rejected a bill that would have allowed such nuptials. Voting 38-to-24 against the bill, this denial of rights signals a political shift away from same sex marriage rights.
Prior to the vote, supporters of the bill felt they had anywhere from 26-35% of the Senators who would vote in favor of these rights. Senators considered “politically vulnerable” also voted against this bill. However, all Republicans voted against the Bill, as well as most members from upstate New York and Long Island. Support for the bill was primarily found to be from African American and female Senators, as well as from those representing New York City and Westchester County.
On the floor, all but one person speaking about the bill did so in attempts to have it approved. Aside from the state’s Roman Catholic bishops, who lobbied for the Bill’s defeat, most opponents of this bill “remained mostly silent”.
Republican supporters of the bill claimed that they had a deal with Democrats where only a handful of Republican votes for the bill would be required in order to ensure passage; however, when it became apparent the bill would not pass, even these supporters failed to vote for the bill’s passage. Some supporters of this bill claim that a number of Senators exhibited “political cowardice”; having stated support initially for the bill, they quickly changed their votes once it became evident the bill would not pass. It is claimed that this issue became too “politically freighted” for these Senators to support if they could avoid it.
Senators voting against the bill claim that the constituency is more worried currently about the economy and were not ready for a change in the definition of “marriage” at the present time. With the current economic condition, some feel that the majority of New Yorkers are too focused on employment and government issues to care enough about a same sex marriage bill. With this defeat, it is expected another such bill will not be viable until 2011 when a new Legislature takes office.
It is true that the economy and government spending are a huge concern to voters everywhere; but, approving same sex marriage affects neither of these areas. Same sex marriage in no way requires increases in government spending and does not affect the availability of employment.
Also, the vote being affected by “political cowardice” is troublesome. Senators have every right to change their vote up until the time it is actually cast, but to do so because they don’t think anybody else is going to vote with them Is problematic. If these Senators who expressed support for the Bill prior to the vote truly believed in same sex rights, then no amount of “peer pressure” should be sufficient to change their minds; if instead they gave support without actually meaning it, then there is the problem of trust and honesty of these politicians by their voters and other lobbying groups.
For the full article from the New York Times, click here.