Leading supporters of same-sex marriage in New York met behind closed doors this afternoon with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but left the meeting declining to say if they’ll push for a vote this year in the state Senate, where the measure failed in 2009.
Advocates said they are eager to work with Cuomo, who supports same-sex marriage, but wouldn’t commit to saying that a vote in the Senate would take place this year.
“We’re not going to say when we are going to do anything here,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is gay. “All we are prepared to say now is that we are working incredibly hard to get New Yorkers the rights they deserve as quickly as we possibly can.”
As far as any of them went was Ross Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, who said, “We want victory this year.”
The measure has passed several times in the Democratic-led Assembly, but failed 24-38 in 2009 in the state Senate, which was then controlled by Democrats. None of the 30 Senate Republicans voted for it, and eight Democrats also voted no.
The rejection was a major hit to advocates’ efforts, and it’s unclear whether the outcome would be any different now that Republicans control the chamber. Five states have legalized same-sex marriage, joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
Cuomo said the meeting was positive and reiterated his support for same-sex marriage.
“Today’s meeting was one in a series of many meetings to discuss a marriage equality bill. Same-sex couples deserve the right to join in civil marriage, and it is simply unfair to deny them the freedom to make this decision for themselves and their families.” Cuomo said in a statement. “To me this is more than just a piece of legislation. This is about the lives of people who I have known for many years, who currently are without the rights to which they are entitled. I look forward to working with lawmakers and stakeholders to make sure that New York joins the growing number of states that allow the freedom to marry for all couples.”
Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, who is gay and has been the leading voice on the issue in the Senate, said “I think we’re all agreed that we’d like to convince each and every senator to vote for our right to be married and the governor is committed to it and that’s just an enormous help.”
But Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, questioned Cuomo’s meeting with gay-rights groups, saying his focus should be on the state’s fiscal issues.
“How can the issue of homosexual marriage demand the governor’s attention at this critical time when we are supposed to be dealing with the Budget to protect the poor and the needy?” Diaz said in a statement. “Does Governor Cuomo think he’s really gaining headway with such little time to spend on the urgencies of the day – which include maintaining minimal educational services and health-care services in New York state?
Here’s some video of Duane talking to reporters after the meeting with Cuomo.