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10:38 AM

The Smartest Guy in the Room 

Spitzer's Support for Gays Will Not Be Tested

Eliot Spitzer LOVES gay people.Photograph by Patrick McMullan

"Marriage is coming to New York, and if you stay put, it'll be here sooner than you think," Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, told the Daily Intelligencer yesterday.

The New Jersey Supreme Court's decision to recognize same-sex couples will compel the State Legislature to either allow gay marriage or create civil unions. New Jersey is the latest New York neighbor to legalize some sort of gay union, and we might be slow to (ahem) keep up with the Jerseyites.

Soon-to-be governor Eliot Spitzer is unequivocally in favor of gay marriage, telling the Empire State Pride agenda on October 5, "This is not about government choosing winners or losers. It's about a government that recognizes the fundamental individual value of every single New Yorker." And 53 percent of New Yorkers agree, according to an April poll.

But most likely, Spitzer won't be pushed to take this matter before the legislature until 2009. Only one Republican in the State Senate's GOP majority — Nicholas Spano, of Yonkers — supports same-sex unions. Few believe the Democrats will gain a majority in the Senate this year, leaving Spitzer with two years to amass a record of success on his governmental-reform agenda of lowering taxes and balancing the state budget before attempting to take on a controversial social issue. In one of his debates with John Faso, Spitzer was clear that he would not make gay marriage an early priority in his administration.

No matter what happens, here or in New Jersey, by getting out front on the issue, Spitzer gives himself a cushy spot from which to watch the debate in New Jersey and the national discussion unfold. If gay marriage doesn't come to New York, it will always be the do-nothing legislature, not the mealy mouthed governor, that failed.

New Jersey Okays Gay Marriage [Daily Intelligencer]