Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wanted: More Republicans with an "Empire State of Mind"

Friday evening the State of New York became the 6th state to take a strong stand for marriage equality. After a long debate the measure passed the state Senate by a vote of 33 to 29. Obviously this is a huge development because the state is not only the third largest in population but it also doesn't have a residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license. The fact that New York City is widely considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement just adds to the relevance of what happened last night.

All but one of the Democrats in the New York Senate were joined by 4 courageous Republicans in standing for equality. So obviously this legislation could not have passed without the help of moderate and even some fair-minded (real) conservative Republicans.

  • One key example is that of Republican Senator Stephen Saland. Two years ago he voted against a similar bill but on Friday finally had a change of heart. He said that it was "a vote of conscience" and affirmed that he knew that he was now "doing the right thing".
  • Fellow Republican Senator Mark Grisanti said that he could not, "...deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer...the same rights that I have with my wife."

Even though the New York Senate only provided 4 Republican votes, there was an extensive bipartisan coalition that helped bring about Friday night's result. Once again unions proved to be a critical ally to the LGBT community as they helped mobilize support for the effort. But credit also should be given to individual Republican donors/supporters and key corporations who also joined the coalition very early.

UPDATE 1: This is a must-read from the New York Times. It gives many of the behind-the-scenes details that brought about this victory for equality.

UPDATE 2: I'm clearly on the same page with Emily.

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