Gay City News Report on NY marriage battle: “this is a battle Cuomo doesn’t want to lose”

Really excellent article by Paul Schindler from Gay City News about the state of play for marriage in New York. It’s definitely worth a read — and keeps coming back to the role being played by Governor Andrew Cuomo. If you’re interested in the NY marriage debate, read this article:

With six days to go in the State Senate legislative calendar before the June 20 scheduled adjournment, leading New York marriage advocates and their ace-in-the-hole Albany ally, Andrew Cuomo, are pushing forward with what everyone involved insists is an unprecedentedly unified front –– one they say has held firm since the earliest days of the new governor’s administration.

That is all for the good, since the gay and lesbian community is going to need every bit of unity, determination, savvy, and perhaps a measure of luck if the job is to get done.

With 32 votes needed for passage in the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow 32-30 majority, the tally of public supporters of the bill stands at 26.

A source with direct knowledge of the effort being waged from Cuomo’s office said the feeling there is that “the path to success” involves everybody “staying organized and focused, and not going off on tangents.”

That individual hastened to add there is “a full-court press coming out of the highest levels on the second floor,” the location of the governor’s executive offices in the State Capitol.

Schindler looks at the possible Senate votes:

The three target Democrats –– Shirley Huntley and Joe Addabbo of Queens and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn –– have all been identified in recent weeks as “undecided.” Even if all three came around, another three Republican votes would still need to be found.

Recent media reports –– from NY1 News and Gannett –– have pegged the number of undecided Republicans at either four or five: Kemp Hannon of Long Island, Greg Ball from Putnam County, Stephen Saland of Poughkeepsie, Roy McDonald of Troy, and James Alesi from the Rochester area.

Alesi, in fact, is the Republican most often identified as friendly on the marriage equality question –– in part due to his unusual formulation that he is “undeclared, but not undecided,” and also because of his appearance just last month at the Pride Agenda’s Spring Dinner in Rochester.

Advocates, however, are surely pursuing other targets as well. Earlier this spring, Utica’s Joseph Griffo’s office and Jack Martins from Garden City, who defeated pro-equality Democrat Craig Johnson last November in a razor-thin race that did not turn on the marriage issue, indicated an open mind in conversations with Gay City News.

Staten Islander Andrew Lanza, who has also at times signaled a willingness to look at the issue again, is one of only two Senate Republicans from the city. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recent high profile on the marriage issue coupled with the pro-equality outspokenness of two other Staten Island legislators –– Democratic Senator Diane Savino and out gay Assemblyman Matt Titone –– could provide openings for those lobbying Lanza.

Other Republicans, including Betty Little of Glens Falls and Buffalo freshman Mark Grisanti, who beat incumbent Antoine Thompson, in another squeaker where the Democrat’s support for marriage equality did not factor, are also often mentioned by activists in the fight. Grisanti has expressed sympathy for equal rights for same-sex couples, but has repeatedly voiced discomfort with the word marriage.

And, this is especially important:

Others involved in discussions with the governor’s office have put it more bluntly –– this is a battle Cuomo doesn’t want to lose.

That comports with what I’ve been hearing from several sources in New York. Cuomo doesn’t like to lose. He wants to win on marriage — and he’s putting the pressure on to win.

We’ll know how it turns out in less than two weeks. I like having a tough Governor who knows how to fight on our side. We haven’t seen that before.

On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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