Friday, April 17, 2009

Last Rites?

The governor made a big splash yesterday with his introduction of his gay rites bill; but as the NY post points out, it's not likely that the measure will pass any time soon: "Comparing his crusade to legalize gay marriage to the country's epic civil-rights struggles, Gov. Paterson yesterday hitched his falling star to a controversial, and likely doomed, bill to allow same-sex unions in New York."

What the gambit does do, however, is to put the Democratic majority in the state senate in a worse position than it already is-coming off a budget deal that raised both taxes and spending: "Religious leaders will fight hard to defeat the bill. Archbishop Timothy Dolan spoke against gay marriage Wednesday -- the very day he was installed as head of the powerful New York Archdiocese.The bill also faces an uphill state Senate battle. Several members of Paterson's party have come out swinging against it, including Ruben Diaz of The Bronx."

But Diaz isn't alone-and now, with Senator Onorato coming out against the bill, at least five Democrats are publicly opposed. Still, the advocates somehow believe that the governor's involvement will be a difference maker. As the NY Times reports: "Gay-rights advocates expressed confidence on Thursday that Governor Paterson’s personal involvement could make a difference, despite his dismal approval ratings and struggle to advance other aspects of his agenda. They said lawmakers sometimes feel less confined by partisan loyalty on civil rights issues like same-sex marriage."

This amounts to a good deal of wishful thinking; and the senate majority is unlikely to bend to the governor's will if it means the loss of their own power-something that support of gay marriage just might accomplish, especially in some of the swing districts where Democrats remain vulnerable.

Remarkably, the Times failed to even mention these political considerations in their piece-another example of the paper's failure to cover issues where their ideological heart is on their sleeve. Instead we get: "Mr. Van Capelle and other advocates pointed out that in 2002, 13 Republicans joined 21 Democrats to pass a law that specifically banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The outcome of that vote was in doubt until the last minute — an uncommon occurrence in Albany, where the leaders of the Senate and the Assembly rarely allow bills to reach the floor without being sure they will pass. Some supporters of same-sex marriage, most notably Mr. Paterson, are pushing for a similar approach now. By forcing a vote without knowing its result, the logic goes, dubious senators might feel pressured to support the bill for fear of appearing hostile to gay rights."

We'll see. In our view, and we're by no means instinctively hostile to the effort of the advocates, the move is premature, and will only further weaken Paterson, without advancing the advocates cause on the same sex marriage issue.