ALBANY—With the Democratic leadership of the State Senate at worst toppled (or at least crippled), is same-sex-marriage legislation still a possibility?
Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, one of two theoretical heads of the new power-sharing arrangement agreed to after a floor coup Monday, said maybe.
"We're going to discuss it, and if there is a sense within the conference that it should come out for a vote, perhaps we'll get to that," Skelos said on Fred Dicker's radio show earlier today.
Skelos and others keep touting rules changes enacted yesterday, one of which (according to a press release) reads: "a sponsor may move to have his or her bill included on the next active list if a majority of members present and voting agree to the motion."
Skelos was asked if, this being the case, his assent was necessary.
"No, oh, one of the reforms, yeah, the reforms, uh, come into effect, most of them, July 15," he replied.
If this provision is in effect and if there are more than 32 votes for same-sex marriage, as the bill's prime sponsor State Senator Tom Duane has stated, the passage of marriage shouldn't be adversely affected.
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, issued a statement this morning urging a vote before the end of session, saying "our issues are not partisan issues. They are about equal rights for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are treated like second class citizens. Our hope and expectation is that yesterday's events will not derail efforts by our community to win the equality we so desperately need."
A spokesman for Duane, who was conspicuously absent from Malcolm Smith's side yesterday, declined to comment.
Resolving these larger issues, will no doubt slow down all business, including same-sex marriage.
"It's certainly putting in another hurdle," said Rev. Duane Motley, whose group, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, lobbies against the measure. "I think it will stop it. I'm not going to say it kills it, but it should stop it."
Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell, who has passed the bill twice in his chamber, said, "The problem with the Senate, regardless of who happens to be in control, is it's very evenly divided," he told me. "This has made it much harder to get things done, and "if they have succeeded in changing the people in control, we will have a harder time getting things done."
"At the end of the day, more New Yorkers support my right to get married," he said.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Duane e-mailed over this statement a few minutes before 6 p.m.
"Regardless of the leadership outcome, Senator Duane is deeply committed and passionate about passing same-sex marriage and other legislation for which he has fought his entire career. As always, he will work with members from both sides of the aisle to achieve these goals."