I’m harping on the subject of same-sex marriage lately, but it’s not my fault that there are so many recent developments on this topic. Earlier this week I wrote about a potential setback in same-sex marriage in Buenos Aires, and then on Wednesday, all gay Hell broke loose in New York.
A bill for same-sex marriage in New York state, passed through the state Assembly and with very vocal support from Governor David Paterson, failed in the state Senate by a vote of 38-24.
And naturally, the first thing the media (and some of my politically-minded friends in NYC) jumped on was that it wasn’t just a lack of Republican support — yes, there was a unanimous Republican caucus, but eight Democrats also voted against the measure.
One state senator who voted against the bill, Sen. Ruben Diaz (a Pentecostal minister from the Bronx) told his peers that he wants a statewide referendum for the voters to decide on this issue. “If we take it to the people, the people oppose it,” he said, and pointed out that 31 states have banned same-sex marriages by statewide votes.
A Brooklyn Democrat, Sen. Eric Adams, fired back a volley that made me clap my hands alone in my living room. He said that most of the 31 states that Sen. Diaz applauded for banning same-sex marriage “at one time or another sold blacks into slavery. … Because the majority is in one place does not mean they’re in the right place. We’re in a position right now where we have to lead the country to the right place.”
Bravo, Sen. Adams! Obviously it’s not quite that simple — the subject of which states were involved in the slave trade is an entertaining and inspiring comparison, but doesn’t necessarily say anything about the culture in those states (or this country) today. Still, I appreciate the support.
It turns out we may not need to worry about where the majority is in New York state after all. A recent poll actually found 51% of New Yorkers in favor of same-sex marriage, with only 42% opposed. And in June, a different poll found 51% in favor and 41% opposed.
So I guess the question becomes… Why don’t we put this to a vote in New York state? If New Yorkers want to legalize it, they should be given their chance, with or without the support of their state senators.