A new push to call the State Senate’s Marriage Equality Bill to a vote is coming from an unlikely place -- Flatbush.
In a letter he penned last week, State Senator Kevin Parker, a long-time supporter of gay marriage and a co-sponsor of the bill, demanded that both Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson call for a vote on marriage equality as soon as the Senate resumes session.
As this paper went to press, the Senate was told to be prepared for a special session on November 10, which means that if Smith and Sampson allow it, the vote could be called this Tuesday.
By late Wednesday, however, Governor David Paterson had not called the legislature back to Albany.
“It is imperative that this legislation is passed as numerous same-sex couples grapple with the psychological and economic strain of not having all their civil and equal rights,” Parker said. “The Assembly has already acted to correct this injustice and now it is time for the Senate to do the same.”
“By denying marriage equality, the state is denying them those rights. This is a matter of simple fairness,” he said.
In his letter, Parker asked Smith to bring the hotly contested bill to the floor Tuesday.
“The bill’s enactment would not only bode well for we as legislators, but for innumerable New Yorkers,” he wrote.
Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) borough residents have been pushing for a gay marriage bill for years. While the Assembly voted in favor of gay marriage twice, it has never been called in the State Senate.
When Democrats took control of the Senate in January, it was believed that the vote would finally been called, but the growing pains the new leadership suffered -- as well as the attempted coup -- caused the vote to be shelved.
A spokesperson for Sampson said that the Canarsie legislator, who has yet to choose a side in the gay marriage debate, has spoken with both Democratic and Republican leaders in order “to find a way to move the bill forward.”
Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda said he looks forward to the day when the Marriage Equality Act is brought onto the senate floor.
“We believe the case has been made clear both for and against marriage equality and the time is now for the 62 members of the State Senate to give the bill, as well as the state’s LGBT community, the respect it deserves by debating the issue on the floor of the Senate and giving it an up and down vote.”
Even if the vote is shot down, Van Capelle said that the debate would raise more awareness and possibly more support for the LGBT cause.
“No bill in the Senate was passed without Republican and Democratic votes,” he said. “We’ve always ended up with more votes at the end of the debate.”