Friday, July 2, 2010

Cuomo: Gay Marriage in New York Is a 'Priority' for 2011 - Metropolis - WSJ

Cuomo: Gay Marriage in New York Is a 'Priority' for 2011 - Metropolis - WSJ

By Jacob Gershman

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said that, if elected governor this fall, he would push to legalize gay marriage in New York during his first year in office.

Asked by a reporter if he would make the passage of a same-sex marriage bill a priority in his first year on the job, Cuomo told reporters in New York City: “It’s a priority.”

State lawmakers, he said, “have their hands full with their current legislative agenda, most notably the budget, but my opinion, my policy point of view, it is a priority.” Asked if he thinks a gay marriage bill could pass the Legislature in 2011, an off-election year, Cuomo replied: “Do I think it can? Yes.”

In December, the state Senate rejected a gay marriage bill in a lopsided 38-24 vote, a stinging defeat for advocates who had waged a long, expensive campaign and had won pledges of support from Senate Democratic leaders.

Not a single Senate Republican voted for the bill, while eight Democrats opposed the measure. The bill had earlier that year passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly for the second time.

Ethan Geto, a prominent gay political strategist, said he was heartened by Cuomo’s comments. “To me, that’s extremely encouraging. For the guy to say it’s a priority and then for him to say he may very well be able to get it done in his first year, it’s terrific,” said Geto.

Cuomo’s position on the issue has evolved over the years. When he ran for governor in 2002, the Democratic politician said he favored civil unions but did not support same-sex marriage. He declared his support for gay marriage when he ran for attorney general in 2006.

Since the last year’s defeat, gay rights groups, led by Fight Back New York, a newly formed political action committee affiliated with Denver-based Gill Action Fund, have raised money from wealthy gay donors around the nation to try to defeat state Senate Democrats and Republicans who opposed the bill.

The PAC backed the Senate candidacy of Jose Peralta, who trounced Hiram Monserrate, a former senator who opposed gay marriage, in a special election in Queens held in March. Monserrate, who was convicted last year of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend at the time, had lost his seat in February after he was expelled from the Senate.

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