The Debate: Duane Says Little, Diaz Attacks His Leadership

ALBANY The debate on same-sex marriage in the State Senate started at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, December 2, 2009.

Senator Tom Duane, the chamber’s only openly gay member and the bill’s sponsor, spoke very briefly explaining the measure.

“This legislation would merely provide me and tens of thousands of other new Yorkers with equal rights,” he said. “It would make me equal in every way to everyone else in this chamber.”

The floor was then given to Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., an outspoken critic of the bill and same-sex marriage. He made four basic arguments: that many religions institutions do not support this measure; that advocates of the measure spent a lot of money to flip the majority; that people do not support the measure, it has lost in popular referendums and only been approved through judicial action; and that he was betrayed by Malcolm Smith, the chamber’s majority leader.

His tone was subdued (by his own colorful standard) and serious. He spoke from prepared remarks. He offered none of his trademark theatrics. Before the vote, he sat alone in his chair, stewing intensely. Last night, the reverend said he was praying.

“I implore you, ladies and gentlemen, members of this body. Members of the Republican Party: Remember your roots. Remember your values–remember you stand for traditional values, family values, moral values,” Diaz said. “Join me, a Democrat, join me, a Hispanic, join me a Puerto Rican, join me, a black, join me, a resident of the city of New York in saying no.”

“My disappointment is not with the community, but with the leadership of this body. They have not been straight with me, they have not been straight with Tom Duane.”

“This is the day that the Lord has made. This is the day that we have to decide to do something,” Diaz concluded. “God bless all of you, and thank you.”

  The Debate: Duane Says Little, Diaz Attacks His Leadership