NY Senate debate over gay marriage gets nasty

Posted on 05 Jun 2009 at 10:59am
By Michael Gormley Associated Press

Marriage equality opponent says supporters should speak up and let bill die

ALBANY, N.Y. — Conservative Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. said Wednesday, June 3 that supporters of a same-sex marriage bill should step up and say so if they aren’t "ashamed," or the bill’s sponsor should "shut up."

The future of same-sex marriage is being debated quietly within the Democrat-controlled Senate, following the measure’s approval in the Democrat-led Assembly last month. Democratic Gov. David Paterson says he will sign the bill into law if the Legislature passes it.

But Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith says he still doesn’t have enough votes for the bill to pass.

This week, Sen. Thomas Duane, an openly gay lawmaker sponsoring the bill, said he has enough votes now to pass it. He wouldn’t identify the supporters.

Diaz, a Bronx minister who opposes the measure on religious grounds, said it’s a "disgrace" that Duane is playing mind games to lure enough supporters.

"If Sen. Tom Duane has the necessary Senate votes to pass the homosexual marriage bill in New York state, then he should release the names of those senators who are supporting the bill," Diaz said in a statement.

"Any senator who commits himself or herself to something, should be man or woman enough to take a stand … If they give their word to support something that they are ashamed of, then that is a hypocrisy, and could be interpreted as not wanting to be associated with the matter," Diaz said.

Diaz is one of the reasons the bill, strongly supported by his party, hasn’t become law. The Democrats have a 32-30 majority, so his opposition means Democrats need Republican supporters, and there has been little bipartisan cooperation since Democrats took the majority in the November elections.

Duane and Smith had no immediate comment.

The regular legislative session ends June 22.

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