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Reaction: New York Senate Votes Against Marriage Equality, 24-38

December 2nd, 2009 2 comments

I had no idea whether the Senate would pass this measure, but I’ll bet everyone was surprised by the lop-sided margin by which it went down to defeat.  So all of these months of wrangling and wondering whether the bill would even come to a vote end with…a thud. Very disappointing, especially since eighteen of the twenty-four supporters spoke during the debate, as compared with only one opponent.

To me, the opponents’ silence says: “We know we don’t have arguments that are compelling, and we don’t want to stand against these many real-life stories of how the denial of equality affects our fellow New Yorkers. But we’re afraid of the political ramifications of a “yes” vote.”

It looks like NOM’s threat to campaign against any Republican who supported the measure had some effect, but it’s too simple to blame it all on that. There’s still the matter of the Democrats who voted against it, some of whom appeared to have been supporters. What happened? How much of this is attributable to the voters’ reaction to legislatively conferred marriage equality in Maine? And how will it affect the vote in neighboring New Jersey? (Prediction: Now, I’d be surprised if the matter even came to a vote. And if it does, expect another defeat.)

Is the glass filling, or emptying? 2009 has been an up-and-down year for marriage equality (and in that order, too — first “up” with results in Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont; and then “down,” with the California decision upholding Prop 8, the voter repeal of marriage equality in Maine, and now this).  The year’s not over, of course, as D.C. looks poised to enact marriage equality before year’s end, so things may yet end on a positive note. But overall 2009 is ending on a down note.

More broadly, though, nothing will stop this movement. I know and believe this.

To end on a practical note: All the N.Y. Senate has done is to make getting married more of a challenge for New Yorkers: The state recognizes same-sex marriages from other states, and today’s action didn’t change that. Yet the legislature was unwilling to make life easier for gay couples: They still have to go to Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Canada (to name the three adjoining jurisdictions that recognize gay marriages) in order to marry.