Tag Archives: Dean Skelos

New York Senate Does the Right Thing

POSTED BY ORHAN

The New York Times reports that lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed.

The bill was approved on a 33-to-29 vote as 4 Republican state senators joined 29 Democrats in voting for it: James S. Alesi; Stephen M. Saland; Roy J. McDonald; and Mark J. Grisanti.

After days of agonized discussion capped by a marathon nine-hour closed-door debate on Friday, Republicans came to a decision: the full Senate would be allowed to vote on the bill, the majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, said Friday afternoon, and each member would be left to vote according to his or her conscience.

“The days of just bottling up things, and using these as excuses not to have votes — as far as I’m concerned as leader, its over with,” Mr. Skelos, a Long Island Republican, said.

Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who opposed gay marriage when he ran for election last year, said he had studied the issue, agonized over his responsibility as a lawmaker, and concluded he could not vote against the bill. Mr. Grisanti voted yes.

“I apologize for those who feel offended,” he said. “I cannot deny, a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is, the same rights that I have with my wife.”

Earlier, Republican state senator Roy McDonald, who reversed his previous opposition to marriage equality despite threats from conservative groups that he’d pay for his actions at the ballot box, told reporters:

“You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing.”

“You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.

“I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.”

According to the Washington Post, the bill’s passage was a milestone nationally because it was the first time a GOP-controlled chamber has approved same-sex marriage.

Andrew Sullivan writes that New York granting same-sex marriage rights is important not just because a Republican-led State Senate passed the law, but because it insists on maximal religious liberty for those who conscientiously oppose marriage equality, and because it doubles the number of Americans with the right to marry the person they love, even if they are gay.

My take is that those involved acted with integrity, dignity, decency, and placed individual conscience above partisan politics–a hopeful sign for America’s future.