A state senator who opposes the rights of gay people to marry now says he will vote to give homosexuals the right to grieve a deceased loved one.
State Sen. Carl Kruger (D–Mill Basin) told The Brooklyn Paper on Thursday that he supports a new bill that would extend existing state bereavement rights to people involved in same-sex relationships — the same rights enjoyed by legally married couples.
“People living together in a relationship should be able to make those kinds of determinations, because that’s a right,” said Kruger.
But the fiery lawmaker hasn’t gone soft on gays, that’s for certain; marriage, he continued, is still “on a different plane.”
Kruger was the lone Brooklyn Democrat to vote against gay marriage in December, sparking the ire of gay rights groups, who brought their dismay right to his home in southern Brooklyn.
Despite, or perhaps because of, Kruger’s past hostility to a key item on the gay political agenda, Richard Murray of Marriage Equality New York praised Kruger’s support for the bereavement bill.
“If that’s the way he’s leaning, that’s wonderful,” he said. “We encourage him to take another 10 steps forward with us.”
He did not believe that Kruger, who represents a socially conservative district, was anywhere close to that yet.
But Kruger is obviously thinking about the issue, possibly the result of an effort by a political action committee called Fight Back New York, formed by Colorado billionaire Tim Gill for the sole purpose of electing a pro-gay-marriage majority in the Senate, which rejected the Assembly’s “marriage equality” bill by a vote of 38-24.
Fight Back New York has insisted that it is not targeting any lawmaker in particular, but gunning for them all.
Current state law requires employers to grant funeral or bereavement leaves. The new bill, sponsored by Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D-Boerum Hill), would cover employees who are in “committed, same-sex relationship.”
When a company refuses to grant such leave, it “fails to acknowledge the value that any committed relationship contributes to our communities,” the bill states.