Three Democratic senators who voted against a same-sex marriage bill in December 2009 announced during a news conference with Gov. Andrew Cuomo today that they have changed their minds. Sens. Shirley Huntley of Queens, Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Joseph Addabbo of Queens said they would vote yes if a gay-marriage bill is brought to the floor before next Monday’s end of the legislative session.
The development means 29 of the chamber’s 30 Democrats now support gay-marriage legislation. Sen. Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, a Pentecostal minister, is the only no vote. A number of Republicans have not stated how they would vote or are undecided. If three of the 32 Republicans voted yes, there would be enough votes to pass legislation. The Assembly has previously voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Cuomo, who has made adopting a gay-marriage law one of his top priorities this session, said he is confident the measure would pass if legislation came up for a vote. His administration has not yet introduced a bill. “This is a big change and this is going to generate a lot of momentum,” he said of the three Democratic senators changing their votes.
The governor, who met this morning with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said public opinion has been changing rapidly in favor of same-sex marriage as people have gotten more information on the issue, “fear” has subsided, and younger people have become more involved.
“This is an issue of social justice in my opinion. This is an issue of social progress,” he said.
Huntley and Addabbo said public opinion has changed in their districts, and they believe that by voting yes they would be representing the majority of their constituents. Kruger said his stance on the issue has evolved. He kept an open mind and discussed the issue with Sen. Tom Duane, D-Manhattan, who is openly gay and has been leading the campaign in the Senate to adopt gay marriage.
“What we’re about to do is redefine what the American family is, and that’s a good thing,” Kruger said.
Following the news conference, advocates for gay marriage went into a meeting with the governor.