“I think this has been a longtime coming ,” said Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, which is taking credit for helping Chuck Schumer “evolve” and now voice support for same-sex marriage.
Capelle was nonjudgmental Schumer’s shift on this position, emphasizing that when Schumer voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the year was 1996 and “the world looked different.”
“It [DOMA] was not a big issue for anyone in the LGBT community, except for the conservative right,” said Capelle, who he said used it as “a wedge issue.”
Since voting against same-sex marriage, Capelle said Schumer “wanted to learn more.”
He dismissed Schumer’s 1996 vote as “a pragmatic decision” and said now, “I think he looks both personally and pragmatically at New York, and thinks marriage equality will come to New York.”
Capelle declined to claim Schumer’s support as validation of his preferred method—more meetings, fewer protests—for winning over reluctant Democrats. (Capelle debated other advocates in November, some of whom preferred a more confrontational approach.)
Capellesaid, “I don’t think there is a cookie-cutter approach to winning support for this issue.”
Looking forward, Capelle said Schumer’s support helps solidify same-sex marriage as something that is “not politically toxic.” In fact, he said, “every single statewide elected is in favor of marriage equality” and it’s now “a mainstream issue.”
He said he is now “cautiously optimistic” about same-sex marriage being legalized by the state legislature—a place where that issue has not had much progress this year.