Could a Public Referendum Be the Republicans’ Lifeline From This Marriage-Equality Mess?

ALBANY, NY - JUNE 16: New York Senate Majority Leader Sen. Dean Skelos (R-District 9) (C) talks with colleagues in the Senate chamber on June 16, 2011 in Albany, New York. The Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would legalize gay marriage as soon as tomorrow. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images) Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/2011 Getty Images

State Senate Republicans are in yet another meeting, with same-sex marriage yet again a main subject. Here’s something to watch for when they finally emerge: a possible push to settle the legalization question through public referendum. Cuomo would never go for it, but the theory is that this move would spare the last few Senate undecideds the wrath of stridently pro- and anti-marriage forces, while at the same time throwing Governor Cuomo’s words of last night back at him, that “the people are entitled to a vote on this issue.” He was talking about a legislative vote, this week, of course, and the rest of Cuomo’s remarks seemed to indicate he believes he’s got the decisive margin locked down. Calling for a referendum would also be an attempt to calm the Conservative Party’s Mike Long: Hey, we tried everything to stop this. Delay and deferral are art forms in Albany.