Gov. Patterson from New York said yesterday on an Ithaca, NY, radio station that he intends to introduce a same-sex marriage bill similar to the one previously introduced by former Gov. Spitzer.
The only problem is, the Empire State isn't as welcoming as we would think.
First of all, we know that New York doesn't offer protections based on gender identity or expression in its non-discrimination law. Considering the number of companies based in New York that have these protections, as well as the solid control of the New York House and the new control of the New York Senate, this should already be done. In fact, it should have been done years ago.
But the question before us is marriage, and that road is no Sunday drive either. Based on the leadership of Rep. Danny O'Donnell, the marriage bill has passed the New York Assembly previously. Clearly, the Governor will sign it. The speed bump is the Senate. Previously that bump was caused by the Republican control of the Senate.
Now, however, it's being caused by a very small number of Democrats in the Senate who have said they will not allow it to a vote.
The reasons for this originally were:
- Too risky to the Governor heading into 2010.
- Have to pass the budget first.
- Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. has placed his personal religious views ahead of the best interests of the state.
Reason one is gone. It is now the Governor's bill - no hiding from that.
Reason two is gone. Budget is done.
Reason three is infuriating. Sen. Diaz is a Pentecostal minister and it is widely believed that he and two of his colleagues in the New York Senate traded their votes on Majority Leader for the assurance that this bill wouldn't be brought up. Those three votes were the margin of victory for the Democrats and allowed them to take control of the Senate for the first time in years.
I wonder where the liberal wing of the party was - saying they wouldn't vote for the Majority Leader without assurances that there would be a vote on marriage equality.
Anyway, this decision is insanely short-sided. Not from a civil rights standpoint - which it is - but from an economic standpoint. New York State already recognizes marriages and civil unions performed in other jurisdictions. As more and more states start recognizing equality, New York only stands to lose the revenue both from licenses and from the revenue of the receptions.
So basically, Sen. Diaz is telling the state - even though our state is facing massive budget problems, even though we are losing jobs left and right, even though the majority of New Yorkers support relationship recognition, the views of my close-minded church trump that.
Sen. Diaz, I ask, would you at some point like to join the reality that is around you? I'd like to introduce you to Sen. Mike Gronstal of Iowa, I think he has some perspective you could gain from.