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June 11, 2009


As some of you may know, over the last couple of months the New York Legislature has been going through a very public and very tumultuous power struggle over who controls the senate. And Governor Paterson's gay marriage bill has been embroiled right in the middle of the drama.

Well, The Advocate reported this past Monday that a political coup, of sorts, was successfully executed. The democrats had only a two vote majority so when two democrats, Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, announced that they agreed to vote with senate Republicans after reaching a power sharing agreement that made Republican Dean Skelos majority leader of the senate and Espada temporary president of the senate.

This, in effect, unseated Democrat Malcolm Smith who had been dragging his feet in bringing the marriage bill to the senate floor for a vote claiming there weren't enough votes to pass it even though the bill's sponsors claimed otherwise. Speculation was that in order for Smith to become majority leader last April, he made a deal with a couple of senate democrats who strongly opposed his support of gay marriage and didn't want the bill to go forward.

Wait. It gets better. Ironically, many now feel that the bill has a much better chance of being voted on and very possibly passed because of this coup.

Espada has publicly stated his support for granting same-sex couples the right to marry and although Dean Skelos has expressed opposition to the bill, he has also previously stated that he would allow his party colleagues to vote their conscience.

Unfortunately, today the Buffalo News reported the following:

With protesters from Democratic-leaning groups trying to block lawmakers from entering the chamber, the session fell apart immediately when the official bills that the Senate was about to move to the floor were locked in a desk by Democratic officials seeking to prevent the Republican-backed coup group from voting. Republicans did not have keys to the desk.

Sen. Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat who is considered the weakest link in the uprising, walked out of the session — which left not enough members to have a quorum to take up any business. He said he needed more Democrats to join the takeover effort to make it a true coalition Senate.

"This chamber must not remain divided, so I'm going to excuse myself from this chamber," he said.

The on-again, off-again supporter of the coup said he will not return until the coalition expands. That leaves the Senate in a complete standstill with neither side able to produce the 32 votes needed to call session.

The state assembly overwhelmingly approved the bill last month and, of course, Governor Paterson is eager to sign it.

Now, if someone could only get the senate to act like adults instead of spoiled little children arguing over who's football it is, we just might be able to see a gay marriage bill passed in New York State. Maybe.

According to a NY Times article, the situation in the senate has gotten even more chaotic.

Shortly after the republicans found a set of keys and were able to get into the senate chamber, one of the two defecting democrats (Hiram Monserrate of Queens) the republicans were counting on to complete the forum needed to conduct business, walked out saying he wanted to work on getting more democrats to join the coup before he would participate any further.

Pedro Espada Jr. (who is now sharing power) was so desperate to get his democratic colleagues back into the chamber, he's using the same-sex marriage legislation as a lure by promising to bring it to the floor for a full vote next week which would be the first time in the Senate's history.

Apparently our marriage equality cause has become a linchpin in the Senate's keystone cops like power struggle. Now if they can only get enough senators back into the chamber, we might have a real chance of not only finally getting a senate vote on this but actually even getting it passed.

Stay tuned.


Rebecca said...

Looks like chaos to me, or is it KAOS? Where is Maxwell Smart when needed....
Seriously, it's gotten crazy up there.

Steve Krotz said...

KAOS was much better organized.

It's gotten even worse today. But there is an upside to this. According to a NY Times story today (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/12/nyregion/12albany.html?th&emc=th), Pedro Espada Jr. (the one who's sharing power) is trying to lure former democratic colleagues back to the chamber "...by offering to bring same-sex marriage legislation to the Senate’s floor next week, for the first time in the Senate’s history."

If they can find a way to get enough senators back into the chamber to conduct business, we might have a real chance of getting this thing passed once and for all.