By the end of this month, marriage equality may finally come to New York State. The state Assembly has already passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, and the Senate is considering similar legislation. New York’s governor has indicated that he will sign the legislation into law if it is passed.
So, everything looks good for the marriage equality bill, right? Democrats form a majority in the state Senate, after all.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Some Democrats are supporting marriage equality, but others are working against it. The Democratic majority leader, Malcolm Smith, is working to block the bill from coming to a vote. Democratic senators Darrel Aubertine, Shirley Huntley, George Onorato, William Stachowsky, and David Valesky say they will oppose the bill. Eight other Democrats have not cosponsored the legislation, but have not indicated how they will vote, either.
While this disconcertingly large number of Democrats in the state Senate are waffling or drifting off in the wrong direction, local activists are rising to push back. For example, in New York City, Lynne Serpe, a Green Party candidate for the city’s 22nd district council seat in Queens, not only has given her verbal support to the marriage equality bill, she actually joined in a public demonstration supporting marriage equality last week.
Marriage equality for same-sex couples is coming in New York State’s future. A strong majority of younger voters supports the issue, and as older voters fade away, the law will be changed. New York State Democrats can choose to work to help make this positive change now, or they can hold on to a restrictive, regressive vision, and allow leaders like Lynne Serpe to show that the Green Party is a better voice for New York’s progressive values.
Organizations like Marriage Equality New York will note the difference, and place their support where it is worthwhile.