Tag Archives: New York Senate

UPDATED: Will Sen. Grisanti Decide NY Marriage Equality?

16 Jun

Judge James Wilson

On July, 2, 1776, the greatest question of American liberty was posed to the 2nd Continental Congress in Philadelphia. After weeks of debate, it had been decided that the vote to declare independence from England, the 13 colonies had to vote unanimously. James Wilson of Pennsylvania had joined with more conservative colleagues, Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, Robert Livingston of New York, and John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. Together, they successfully caused a 3-week delay in the vote for independence. Wilson didn’t feel that we were ready for this change. As a country, he didn’t believe we were “ripe” enough to be on our own.

When the time came for the vote that would forever change the course of our history, Wilson arguably became the deciding vote when Pennsylvania voted 3-2 to declare our independence from England. When faced with the question of what this country was about, Wilson saw that his vote could be the deciding factor between oppression and freedom. He chose freedom.

Today, the New York State Senate will again debate marriage equality after the Assembly passed it last night with an 80-63 vote. In order for New York to pass the Marriage Equality Bill, which would mean freedom for all New Yorkers to marry and be protected equally under our laws, the bill must garner 32 votes. As of right now, there are 31 votes and several undecided senators. With so many undecided Republican senators, it’s hard to find someone who will be a real leader and break from the pack to truly represent all their constituents.

Senator Mark Grisanti, (R) Buffalo, NY

For months now, Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo, NY has said that he would vote against the marriage equality bill, but now he has declared that he is “undecided.” Grisanti is clearly wrestling with the idea and met with Governor Cuomo on Tuesday night to discuss the bill. While he has still not said how he will vote, some see him as the deciding vote on marriage equality in New York.

So over the next 24-48 hours, Grisanti will continue to balance out the weight of this important decision. He must ask himself if he wants to be remembered as a bold leader who bravely chose to protect all New Yorkers or if he wants to stick with the status quo, leaving his LGBT constituents to flounder in inequality. This is no small decision for Grisanti, but we can hope that he will take a page out of James Wilson’s book. We can hope that he will see that New York and America are more than ready to live up to the standards set forth in the Declaration of Independence – that all men are created equal.

Stand on the right side of history, Senator Grisanti.

UPDATE: Last night, in a vote of 33 to 29, the New York Senate voted to approve marriage equality in the state. Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo said to his Republican colleagues who were voting against the bill:

“The issue of same-sex marriage was never a strong topic of discussion among family and friends. I simply opposed it in the Catholic sense of my upbringing.”

“As a Catholic, I was raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I’m not here, however, as a senator who is just Catholic. I’m also here with a background as an attorney. To which I look at things and I apply reason.”

“I have studied this issue. To those who know me, they know I have struggled with it.”

“I cannot legally come up with an argument against same-sex marriage. Who am I to say that someone does not have the same rights that I have with my wife, who I love, or to have the 1300-plus rights that I share with her”

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Ring in Pride! Help Pass Marriage Equality in NY!

14 Jun

Following up on our earlier post regarding the New York Marriage Equality vote, we wanted to share the phone numbers of several Senators who we believe may be moveable towards equality. Please call these Senators immediately as the vote could be happening as early as tomorrow and must happen before Monday, so these calls MUST be made today. Call and please tell all your friends and family to call as well. This is especially important if you are a constituent of any of these Senators. As of now, we need just one more vote. Let’s make it happen! What an incredible way to celebrate Pride!!

Senator Gregory R. Ball of Putnam County (845) 279-3773

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. of Suffolk County (516) 882-0630

Senator J. Kemp Hannon of Nassau County (516) 739-1700

Senator Andrew J. Lanza of Staten Island (718) 984-4073

Senator Betty Little of Glens Falls (518) 743-0968

Senator Mark Grisanti of Erie County (518) 455-3240

Senator Stephen M. Saland of Poughkeepsie (845) 463-0840

Senator Lee M. Zeldin of Shirley (631) 360-3356

Senator John J. Flanagan of Long Island (631) 361-2154

Senator Kenneth P. Lavalle of Port Jefferson (518) 455-3121

Call NOW and share this list with others!!

Prop 8 Decision Upheld and NY Marriage Equality On The Way!

14 Jun

What a day for equality from coast-to-coast!

PROP 8 NEWS!

Judge Vaughn Walker

The history: As you may or may not know, a few months ago, Judge Walker (who had overturned Proposition 8 at the District Court level last year), came out of the closet. This of course sent the rabid anti-gay crusaders on a new mission – since Walker stood to benefit from the outcome as a gay man who could now get married in California, the bigots claimed his decision should be overturned.

The fun part: The Prop 8 proponents who fought tooth and nail for “traditional marriage,” used as their main argument that “protecting [heterosexual] marriage” would benefit straight people and straight families. So NOW their argument is that Judge Walker should have recused himself because he was gay – but apparently a straight judge would be fine because well…he wouldn’t benefit from Prop 8 (so long as you ignore their primary argument from the previous trial). Aaaaaawkwaaaard.

The news: The federal judge who heard yesterday’s case claiming that Judge Walker should have opted out of the trial just found that Walker had “no legal obligation” to recuse himself from the case. No word yet on when gay and lesbian Californians can again start saying “I do,” but it’s great to hear that once again, this homophobic law has been found unconstitutional.

 

-NEW YORK MARRIAGE EQUALITY NEWS –

The history: In 2009, the Marriage Equality Bill was defeated in New York after many Democratic senators betrayed their parties, their constituents and their colleagues after breaking promises made and voting against equality for all New Yorkers. Several of these senators then faced primary challenges for seats they had held for many years.

NY Sen. Carl Kruger

The fun part: One of these Democrats that voted against equality was protested at his home, when activist Corey Johnson demanded that he come out of the closet. Sen. Carl Kruger was then investigated by the FBI on a bribery sting and arrested in February for allegedly pocketing close to $1 million in bribes for he and his live-in boyfriend. His boyfriend was also charged, as he was not only a beneficiary but he’d set up several shell companies to help hide the money.

The news: Kruger, though STILL not admitting he’s gay, had this to say about his change of mind on the upcoming marriage equality bill:

“My vote comes not as an outgrowth of media attacks or picketing outside my home or political pressure, but due to a better understanding of the impact that this bill will have on the rights to countless New Yorkers”

Wondering where that “better understanding” came from?

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com

Okay, the real news: The Marriage Equality Bill was introduced today by Governor Cuomo. In earlier reports, Cuomo said that he would absolutely not introduce the bill unless he was certain he had the votes in the Senate to pass it. According to reports from pretty much every marriage equality organization, after 4 previously anti-equality Democrats (including the aforementioned Kruger) and one previously anti-equality Republican announced today that they would be voting for marriage equality, we now have 31 of the 32 votes necessary to pass the bill. If what Cuomo had promised before remains true though, he’s certain there is at least one other Republican vote. So…keep your fingers crossed as the vote has to happen in the coming few days before the end of their session. And if you live in New York, CALL YOUR SENATOR! New Yorkers for Marriage Equality/HRC has set up a very easy to use site which will connect you directly with your state senator. Just click here to make it happen now! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

 

 

NY Senator Tom Duane Arrested in AIDS Protest

9 Nov

Senator Tom Duane Arrested Today at City Hall. Photo:Cindy Rodriguez

Earlier today, NY State Senator Thomas Duane joined the heads of several HIV/AIDS Organizations in an act of civil disobedience which wound up with Duane and others getting arrested.

The action was in protest of a bill that was vetoed earlier this year by Governor David Paterson. The bill would insure that people living with HIV/AIDS wouldn’t be required to spend more than 30% of their income on their rent. The bill would effect 10,000 New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS. According to WNYC:

“Gerald Deyounge from Brooklyn is one of them. He attended Tuesday’s protest and says he’s about to be evicted from his current apartment because he can’t afford his rent. Deyounge says he lives off a disability payment of just over $1,000 a month and about $700 of that goes to housing. Deyounge says right now his life is stable, but he’s not sure where he’ll go if he loses his apartment.”

Openly gay and openly HIV+ Duane has long been an outspoken advocate for our community and has fought tooth and nail for marriage equality in New York. If you don’t know who he is, please give this video a watch. he is easily one of our most passionate elected officials we have. Thanks Senator, for everything you are.