Friday, June 24, 2011

Patience Running Thin As GOP Refuses To Act On NY Marriage Equality

New York senate Democrats spoke to reporters early this afternoon, accusing Republicans of deliberately delaying a vote on legalizing same-sex marriage in New York. Sen. Kevin Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, called the Republicans' handling of gay marriage "amateurish," while Manhattan Senator Liz Krueger voiced the sentiment of many, saying, "It’s outrageous. We were sent home last night without any explanation.”

But Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos, who ended Thursday's session just before 11 p.m., offered a wonderfully creative excuse. Ready for this? He dismissed lawmakers for the "health of members." Can you see my eyes rolling around in my head?

Gay rights advocates are expressing their impatience: "It’s time for a vote," said Brian Ellner with the Human Rights Campaign. “This is a democracy, and a supermajority of New Yorkers support equality. The time is now. Period.”

As of Friday, the number of senators voicing support for the marriage measure—31/62, one short of a majority—has not changed in more than a week. 

The Senate's Republican majority entered a closed-door session again Friday to discuss nuts and bolts legislation on taxi restrictions, rent regulations, power plant permits and unions, before it allegedly addresses gay marriage later in the day. Republicans have refused to work over the weekend—here's another whopper—because of religious observances.

Simply, no action Friday on gay marriage would likely kill the bill or postpone passage into infinity—though Gov. Andrew Cuomo insists that if the weeks ends with no vote, he will order the legislature back for a special session.

Meanwhile, President Obama made headlines at a gay fundraiser in NYC Thursday, lending support to civil unions but continuing to dodge any meaningful endorsement of equality for all Americans. "Gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country. [There will be a day] when every single American, gay or straight, is free to live and love as they see fit."

With each passing day of this week, anyway, that dream seems to be slipping farther away.