Gay Marriage, Now

With a vote on gay marriage looming, a handful of state senators remain undecided about this fundamental civil rights issue. It’s time for them to do the right thing for hundreds of thousands of their fellow New Yorkers.

One upstate Republican state senator is showing the way. Undecided until just this week, Senator James Alesi, who represents a district near Rochester, announced on Monday that he will support the bill. Mr. Alesi’s announcement could be critical to passage: he is the first Republican state senator to support the bill. Passage in the Republican-controlled Senate will require several G.O.P. votes; otherwise, the measure will be pulled from the legislative calendar. Governor Cuomo, one of the bill’s most forceful supporters, has said he doesn’t want gay marriage to suffer defeat again in the Legislature.

For many of the uncommitted senators, the issue surely is emotionally charged. But in its essence, gay marriage is a matter of civil rights. That’s precisely the argument that persuaded Senator Alesi. “I believe that if you live in America and if you expect equality and freedom for yourself, that you have to extend it to other people,” he said.

The measure now has the support of 30 senators—29 Democrats and one Republican. Seven senators, including two from New York City (Republican Andrew Lanza of Staten Island and Democrat Joseph Addabbo Jr. of Queens), remain uncertain. Supporters need two more votes to ensure passage.

The time for uncertainty is over. It’s time for these politicians to act like leaders by embracing equality and civil rights for gay people.