Even Discussion Is Beneficial, Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Say

ALBANY—They’ll think about it, at least.

After public calls for same-sex marriage to be put on the agenda of a special session now scheduled for Nov. 10, members of the State Senate Democratic conference are hoping to at least hash it out in a closed-door conference.

“I think it’s a conversation we need to have,” said State Senator Diane Savino, a Staten Island Democrat, who is pushing to take up the issue. She said advocates in the gay community now “think the discussion is more important than the bill.”

“There’s tremendous risk of bringing this bill to the floor if it’s going to fail. But it’s not my life, it’s their life, and they’ve made the determination,” Savino told me by phone. It’s unclear if the 32 votes to pass the measure are there: roughly half a dozen Democrats are either not committed to voting yes or have said they will vote no, and no Republican publicly support the bill (though my best read, talking to sources on all sides, is that at least a few would vote yes if it came to the floor.)

The thinking of advocates like the Empire State Pride Agenda is that putting legislators on record will allow them to be targets in 2010. The organization hasn’t been shy about throwing its weight around in the past.

The party line, as delivered by an e-mail from Austin Shafran, is that “Senator Sampson is working with Senator Tom Duane and speaking with members of both conferences about how to bring marriage equality to the floor.”