Volume 76, Number 49 | May 2 -8, 2007


Hats off to Spitzer for gay marriage bill

“Promise made. Promise kept” is the pithy comment State Senator Tom Duane offered in response to Governor Eliot Spitzer’s introduction on April 27 of Spitzer’s program bill to enact marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“The governor helps frame the public agenda and his strong formal support raises the credibility and visibility of the issue enormously,” added Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who with Duane has sponsored the marriage measure in recent years.

When Spitzer took office in January, expectations by gay-marriage supporters could not have been higher. Even with impressive initiatives that increased funds for L.G.B.T. health and social service programs, the big waiting game has remained the timing of the governor’s marriage push.

Now, with marriage proponents building impressive legislative support, especially in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, Spitzer has put his formal imprimatur on the push for full equality.

He is to be congratulated for responding to a politically sensitive challenge with a bold public step. 

To be sure, many others deserve credit as well. Key friends in the Legislature — Duane and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Daniel O’Donnell and Gottfried, all Manhattan Democrats, and all, save Gottfried, out gay officials — have worked hand in hand with the governor’s advisers to make this day possible. Matthew Titone’s victory in the recent special election to a Staten Island Assembly seat as an out gay man and Craig Johnson’s February win in a special Long Island State Senate race as a marriage-equality supporter also contributed valuable political impetus.

The strong team of advocates that Alan Van Capelle leads at the Empire State Pride Agenda deserve enormous praise for building a broad coalition of support — among activists, labor leaders, religious figures and legislators — for moving marriage equality forward.

We look to the governor for continued vocal leadership and call on City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to use the power and prestige of her position to encourage Speaker Silver to bring the issue to the Assembly floor for a vote. And we call on Speaker Silver to no longer be neutral on the issue and to do the right thing: to recognize the growing tally of gay-marriage supporters in the Democratic-controlled Assembly and allow a vote in the Assembly this year.

The Republican-led State Senate is a tougher nut, and here we will count on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fulfill the pledge he made in an interview with The Villager late in 2005: to testify personally in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples. When asked if he would support gay marriage legislation in Albany, the mayor responded, “I will go and testify.… When I say I’ll do something, I’ll do something.”

Assembly action is achievable this year, and would enormously shift the debate. Responsible Republicans such as the mayor can help transform the playing field in Albany, in the State Senate and Assembly, so that gay marriage becomes inevitable much sooner than later.

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