In an effort to rebuild momentum after the defeat of a marriage-equality bill in the New York State Senate in late 2009, four leading gay rights groups are uniting to better coordinate support for another go. Marriage Equality New York, the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, and Freedom to Marry have created a single organization, New Yorkers United for Marriage, with the sole goal of granting legal rights to married gay couples in the state. And they have a powerful ally in Albany: Governor Cuomo and his staff have been advising the groups on tactics, according to the Times, and one of his campaign advisers, SKD Knickerbocker's Jennifer Cunningham, has been hired to handle their media and political strategy. "Last time, there were lots of players, lots of organizations, lots of good will, but not the truly united effort that has come together to work hand in glove with the governor and legislative leaders,” said national Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson.
According to the Times' Michael Barbaro, here's what the united groups are looking at:
Two Democratic senators who voted against the bill in 2009 have since departed, replaced by supporters of the bill. Advocates now need to attract six more senators to ensure its passage. So far, they are focusing on about 15 lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, whose votes could prove pivotal. They are expected to focus on three New York City Democrats who voted against the bill but are considered open to switching sides: Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., Shirley L. Huntley and Carl Kruger. Among Republicans, they are looking at about a dozen senators, including Gregory R. Ball of Putnam County, Andrew J. Lanza of Staten Island, and Mark Grisanti, James S. Alesi and Roy J. McDonald, who represent upstate districts.
Cuomo, for his part, is still riding high on the polls and enjoying the political boost he got by passing a reduced budget on deadline for the first time in years. With his help, and new polls that show a solid majority of New Yorkers support marriage equality for gay couples, advocates are looking toward a vote on the issue as early as this summer.