What’s Brewing: LGBT leaders meet with SBC president; Weiner tells friends he’ll resign

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. All eyes remain on the New York State Senate, which is still one vote short of the majority needed to legalize same-sex marriage in the nation’s third-largest state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s marriage equality bill cleared the Assembly on Wednesday night but must pass the Senate before the session ends next week. The Williams Institute reports that the bill would affect more than 42,000 same-sex couples.

2. After hand-delivering¬† a petition calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to apologize for its anti-gay positions, LGBT leaders met for more than 30 minutes Wednesday with SBC President Bryant Wright. From the Baptist Press: The remarkable meeting — cordial the entire time — took place between the morning and afternoon sessions of the SBC in Wright’s annual meeting office at the Phoenix Convention Center. The nine-person coalition included representatives of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, Faith in America and Truth Wins Out. They protested outside the convention hall and requested to deliver petitions to Wright, who decided to turn the event into a dialogue. Several members of the media also attended.

3. Congressman Anthony Weiner has told friends he plans to resign. From the New York Times: The news comes as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old Congressman of his committee assignments, a blow which would severely damage his effectiveness. Mr. Weiner, a Democrat, came to the conclusion that he could no longer serve after having long discussions with his wife,  Huma Abedin, when she returned home on Tuesday after traveling abroad with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

—  John Wright

NY is 1 vote away from marriage equality

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr.

A second Republican New York Senator said he’ll vote for marriage equality, bringing the total number of state senators supporting the measure to 31, one short of the 32 needed for the measure to pass.

Only one Democrat refuses to vote for the measure: Ruben Diaz Sr., an anti-gay activist who’s also the Senate’s only pro-life Democrat. Diaz worked to stop expansion of New York’s Harvey Milk School for gay teens and tried to keep the Gay Games from taking place in New York.

In May, Diaz led an anti-equality demonstration while his lesbian granddaughter held a pro-equality rally. Diaz represents a district in the Bronx.

The most vocal opposition to marriage equality in New York is coming from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York City. He has compared same-sex marriage to social control in communist China or North Korea. However, he apparently doesn’t see the parallels between imposing his own religious views and fascism.

Three recent polls have been consistent in placing support of marriage equality in New York State at 58 percent. One of the polls was conducted by Siena College, a Catholic school just north of Albany.

Although the Catholic hierarchy opposes same-sex marriage, there’s no evidence lay Catholics in New York oppose equality. According to the Siena poll, Catholics poll 1 percent ahead of the state’s liberal Jewish population in support of marriage equality. Among the biggest proponents of the equality law is the state’s new governor, Andrew Cuomo, who is Catholic.

A Senate vote on the marriage equality measure is possible Friday.

UPDATE: The New York Assembly, which has already passed marriage equality three times, is debating the bill tonight. Watch live by going here.

—  David Taffet

Cuomo introduces same-sex marriage bill

Danny O’Donnell

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced marriage equality legislation today.

According to the Albany Times Union, Cuomo’s bill wouldn’t have been sent to the state Senate if the governor didn’t believe he had the votes for it to pass. This is the last week the bill can be considered before the end of the legislative session.

Among the exemptions in the bill is the right for clergy to refuse to perform same-sex marriages. Activists say state law already allows clergy to decide whom they will marry.

In addition to churches, private facilities may decide who may rent from them. If they do not want to rent to a couple for a wedding reception, they don’t have to. The law also shields them from prosecution.

Danny O’Donnell, a gay member of the New York Assembly, said none of this would change existing law. O’Donnell said he didn’t include this wording in his own version because it only references laws already on the books.

New York City’s conservative Daily News emphasized the Catholic Church’s opposition along with other groups with ironic names like New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. But a poll on the site showed that 77 percent of respondents favor marriage equality.

—  David Taffet

NY vote on marriage equality imminent

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s confident the bill will pass.

A vote on marriage equality in New York, the nation’s third-largest state behind California and Texas, could come in the next few days. According to the New York Times, three Democrats and a Republican who voted against marriage equality in the last session now say they will vote for it. All but one Democrat in the state Senate now supports marriage equality.

According to the Albany Times Union, that brings the number of votes committed to equality in the Senate to 29, just three short of passage. Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle has the count up to 30 in favor, with just two more votes needed.

A rally in support of marriage equality is planned for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at New York City Hall.

If the bill passes, the number of people living in states where same-sex marriage is legal will more than double. New York’s population of 19.3 million is larger than the total population of the five states and D.C. that currently allow same-sex marriage.

—  David Taffet

Bill Clinton comes out for marriage equality

Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton came out in favor of same-sex marriage in New York. And according to the Human Rights Campaign, daughter Chelsea Clinton is doing phone-banking in favor of marriage equality in the Empire State.

Democatic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made marriage equality a top priority of the current legislative session in New York after two other states, Maryland and Rhode Island, failed to enact similar legislation this year.

Cuomo now has the support of Clinton, according to the Wall Street Journal. On Tuesday, Cuomo said he expects the measure to pass before the end of the session in June. Today, he backtracked and said that he won’t press for a vote unless he has the votes in the state Senate.

To change the votes of a handful of Republican Senators who voted against the measure last session, Cuomo is traveling around the state asking residents to put pressure on legislators.

In 2009, same-sex marriage passed the Assembly in New York but failed to pass the Senate.

The hate group National Organization for Marriage has sent $500,000 to the state to derail the legislation. They have also pledged $1 million to campaign against legislators who vote for it, according to the Capital Tonight. The site comments that the ad was not made specifically for New York since the announcer has a distinct Southern accent. The TV ad uses scare tactics that imply that legalizing same-sex marriage requires children to be taught about homosexuality in school.

The bill to legalize same-sex marriage was introduced in the Assembly on Tuesdasy by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Rosie O’Donnell’s gay brother.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: NY marriage equality, Bullying, Defending DOMA

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Joel Burns

1. Marriage equality moved a step closer in New York yesterday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with supporters. Bills have passed the Assembly three times but failed in the Senate. Five senators who voted against lost reelection in the last election. The measure will be reintroduced later this session.

2. A White House conference on bullying gets underway at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern Time). Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns is there. The president will announce a new website called Stop Bullying to help combat the problem.

3. House Speaker John Boehner announced today that the House of Representative’s counsel will defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. The Washington Post reported that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that defending the law would be lengthy and expensive.


—  David Taffet