equal rites

Could Bloomberg Make Marriage Equality Happen If He Wanted To?

When asked by the Gay City News whether he thought that a gay-marriage bill could pass in Albany this fall, Mayor Bloomberg said he thought the chances were “zero, zero.” But when pressed, Bloomberg (who is a long-standing, vocal advocate for marriage equality) also said that he could probably exert some influence on the vote, because he’s such a prominent donor to Republican State Senate candidates. “I’m the main funder,” he said. “You know, you can’t dictate every piece of legislation, and I don’t want to say that they’re bribable. But they know where I stand, and they want me to be a supporter.” He added: “If it came to you needed their votes, that’s where I can do something.”

The tricky thing is, when someone is trying to pass a bill in a legislative body, “votes” are the only thing that is “needed.” The “they” he’s talking about here are Republican State Senators. The $1.2 million he donated to the Independence Party went mostly to four Republican Senate candidates: Cesar Trunzo, Frank Padavan, Dennis Delano, and Serphin Maltese.* Frank Padavan, the only one of the four who won his election, only did so election by 500 votes, nearly losing to a marriage-equality-supporting Democrat. The Village Voice’s Wayne Barrett talked to one aide who said that Bloomberg stumps and cash donations may have been decisive.

Earlier this year, New York did the math on where the gay-marriage bill stands with this current Senate. While there is no exact count of who is for the bill and who is against it, advocates in that piece estimated that they may need as few as two Republicans to join with Democrats already supporting it in order for it to pass. Bloomberg obviously doesn’t think the margin is so close, because if he did, he wouldn’t go around saying he had the power to shift a few votes. But still, it doesn’t come across that great. Yes, someone like Frank Padavan, who has been trying for years to pass a state Defense of Marriage Act, probably isn’t going to change his vote no matter how much he needs the mayor. But not every Republican is a Frank Padavan, and Bloomberg is in a position to help plenty of the rest. To say in one interview both that you have the power to shift votes, and that you think a bill has “zero” chances of passing? It just makes it seem like you don’t want to even try.

Bloomberg Puts Gay Marriage Chances This Year at “Zero, Zero” [Gay City News]
Related: Gay Math [NYM]
*A portion of this post was changed from a previous version.

Could Bloomberg Make Marriage Equality Happen If He Wanted To?