Good details from Paul Schindler:
What Socarides and others described was nothing less than a full-tilt effort, led by a popular new governor, to win marriage equality before the Legislature adjourns in June. At a LGBT Community Center forum on March 10, which included Socarides and three other participants in the Albany meeting, Freedom to Marry executive director Evan Wolfson, who first became involved in marriage litigation in the mid-1990s in Hawaii, said the time is now for the community to mobilize. “We have eight to ten weeks to get this done,” he said.
Also on hand were Mike Avella, a GOP lobbyist who has represented the Log Cabin Republicans on this issue and who Socarides said was also there on behalf of the Gill Action Fund, the Colorado-based LGBT political group founded by software entrepreneur Tim Gill, and Kevin Finnegan, the political director at Service Employees International Union Local 1199, one of the state’s most powerful labor organizations. Finnegan worked for Cuomo in his 2002 gubernatorial bid.
Two other invited participants were unable to attend — Jeff Cook, the state Log Cabin Republicans’ legislative advisor, and Emily Giske, a government affairs specialist at Bolton-St. Johns who has served as a state Democratic Party vice-chair.
A source told Gay City News that one of the key issues discussed was just how proactive the governor’s team should be in coordinating the effort. There was initial resistance to the idea of stepping on legislative prerogatives, but then Socarides — though not by his own account, in speaking to Gay City News — made a persuasive case that in the absence of a quarterback in the executive branch on an issue of this significance, there is danger that the governor’s commitment might not be effectively represented.
Steven Cohen, a former federal prosecutor who is secretary to the governor, which puts him in one of the most powerful positions in Cuomo’s inner circle, will play that role — something that provides a compelling objective standard to back up the characterizations of the meeting Socarides and others provided.
In addition to Cohen, others on Cuomo’s staff at the meeting — which ran more than 90 minutes, with the governor in attendance for just over an hour — were his counsel, Mylan Denerstein, Alphonso David, the out gay deputy secretary for civil rights who earlier in his career was an attorney at Lambda Legal, and community liaison Erik Bottcher, who formerly held this same post in Quinn’s office.
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