ALBANY—State Senator Tom Duane just shared his feelings on the chamber floor after the failure of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, I’m sad, I’m let down, I’m betrayed, but I am not going away,” Duane said. “It makes me angry, but it doesn’t in any way make me or anyone in the LGBT community feel the need to back down, because people have been, uh, uh, betrayed. People have been made angry many, many times over the years.”
It was a “set back” caused by a “contagious lack of backbone,” Duane said in the back of the chamber. He had believed some Republicans would vote yes. He didn’t say who. As he spoke, David Paterson sidled up to him. Even when he was made aware of the governor’s presence, Duane continued to talk for another few minutes as Paterson slid behind him.
“I was surprised that the margin was that great–but it’s the reason that we have votes in a democracy,” Paterson said. “Now we know where the areas are to improve, and now we know what we have to do to win. So if you take a step back, as sad as the day is–it’s as sad a day as I’ve had since I joined public service–if you take a step back…have you ever seen much attention paid to a vote in a legislative body?”
“It makes me think, though, of the darkest day of the Civil Rights movement in 1867, when the Supreme Court voted, seven to two, against Dred Scott and legalized slavery north of the 36th Parallel. That was the darkest day in the abolitionist movement. But in all the years that have passed since, we never noticed it was only six years before the emancipation proclamation. Because after that vote, the advocates knew what they had to do.”
“I think we have to make the climate safer for people who were sitting in this chamber who believe in gay marriage but didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to vote for it.”
Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda who pushed hard for this vote, said it was not a defeat.
“It’s a defeat today, but it’s not a defeat for marriage equality,” he said. “We had some of the most extraordinary speeches delivered on the floor of the Senate that I’ve ever seen delivered in all my time up in Albany. We had people share stories about their families, about their loss, that I don’t think we’ve heard before, and I think we’ve seen what we asked for happen.”
“We know have a road map for 2010 and the work we have to do,” he said.