Volume 76, Number 50 | May 9 -15, 2007

Silver shows shift on gay marriage

On the heels of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s introduction of same-sex marriage equality legislation, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan, gave indications that the bill may come to a vote this year, potentially signaling a shift in his position.

Silver’s view on same-sex marriage has long been ambivalent, but in a statement reported by the Daily News last week, he said he expects the bill will be taken up this month.

However, the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell of the Upper West Side, cautioned against “false expectations” of success. While Democrats enjoy a strong majority in the Assembly, holding 108 of 150 seats, it is unclear how many of them would vote to support gay marriage. The Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay-rights lobby group, tallied 62 supporters in the Assembly prior to Spitzer’s announcement, less than the 76 votes needed for passage.

Though advocates are optimistic that Assembly legislators will be buoyed by Spitzer’s support, Republicans hold the majority in the Senate by a two-vote margin. This complicates matters for Assembly Democrats, who, according to O’Donnell, may be wary of passing the bill with a small margin because it could “lock in no votes” on the Senate side.

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