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equal rites

Republican State Senator Jim Alesi: I’m Happy to Be Seen As the Symbolic Turning Vote on Marriage Equality

An issue weighing on the minds of Republican state senators, which we hear has been part of the reasoning for the delay on a vote on Governor Cuomo's Marriage Equality Act, is the fact that no one GOP member wants to be seen as the person who flipped the switch. The vote tally of those openly in support of the bill is one short, and stepping up to be that senator could invite reprisals from the vengeance-oriented Conservative Party and National Organization for Marriage. But today, addressing a cheering crowd of marriage-equality supporters on the lawn behind the State House in Albany, Jim Alesi said he would take on that responsibility. Alesi, who along with fellow Republican Roy McDonald announced last week that he'd vote in favor of Cuomo's bill, said that "passing marriage equality is, I think, the most important thing I could do in my twenty years as a legislator."

While cracking to the crowd that he was a Republican and "born this way," Alesi explained his logic. Since his name begins with the letter A, he's the first Republican vote to be cast in the State Senate. (Last time this didn't go as well.) "I am proud to be a Republican," he noted. "I am also proud to be the first Republican voter to vote for marriage equality in this state, and to lead off what I hope will be a succession of more than just enough votes." Even if there are "just enough" votes, Alesi said, he feels fine being one of the symbolic "yeses" — despite the fact that he said he's already lost friends and allies over the issue. "I will feel free to go to bed at night and travel around not just New York State but the entire country … to say we passed marriage equality in New York State, and we will pass marriage equality in America."

Although Skelos said earlier today that he won't guarantee a vote on the issue by the end of the day tomorrow, when he predicts the legislative session will end, Alesi says he's hopeful there will be one. "The vote I hope I will be taking before I leave for home will be about ... granting equality for every American that wants it," he said. Watch below as the crowd starts chanting "Thank you, Jim! Thank you, Jim!"

Alesi at rally: ‘I think I have some new friends’ [Times Union]

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