Your move, Dean. Several weeks ago, State Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos indicated that he’d be willing to allow a floor vote on legalizing gay marriage in New York — provided that Senate Democrats made the first move.
Well, Governor Andrew Cuomo just finished a press conference to announce he’s shifted three of his party’s legislators who voted no in 2009 to the yes column this time around. Joe Addabbo and Shirley Huntley of Queens and Carl Kruger of Brooklyn declared their support, a major boost in momentum for the pro-marriage forces as the June 20 end-of-session deadline closes in, and a demonstration of Cuomo’s grand strategy: control the process, don’t show your hand until it’s solid, and time developments for maximum impact.
A Democratic source says the trio moved after Cuomo convinced them that there’s an excellent chance they’ll soon be joined by the necessary Republican votes. Which does not mean gay partners should start lining up wedding caterers: The magic number for legalization has now been lowered to three, but the real number is probably zero or four. None of the four remaining Republican undecideds — Jim Alesi, Greg Ball, Roy McDonald, or Stephen Saland — wants to be the “final” vote that puts gay marriage over the line, so they’ll likely jump in the same direction together, either for or against.
Cuomo believes he can sway each man individually, saying, “Represent the people of the state, not the party leaders.” Skelos is trying to keep the bloc intact to help him get what he wants on rent regulations and other issues. At the press conference, Cuomo made it clear he’ll blame Skelos if the bill doesn’t reach the floor this week: “I believe the votes will be there for marriage equality if the vote happens.” Nothing like a little Albany drama, eh?