Despite doing some huffing and puffing and threatening to introduce a statewide referendum to ban same-sex marriage in New York State last week, there has been no indication that the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. - a New York State Senator - actually did such a thing.
The Reverend, a Democrat, is among the biggest homophobes in New York State politics and has used his stand on same-sex marriage and his opposition to abortion rights to endear himself to Senate Republicans over the years.
This year, as Senate Democrats gained the upper hand from Republicans by a slight margin, the Reverend saw an opportunity for a power-grab and joined three dissident senators who threatened to vote with Republicans on key issues unless their needs were met (according to Gay City News Diaz wanted "an assurance that either the same-sex marriage bill will not be brought to the Senate floor for a vote or that a statewide referendum be held on the question").
The so-called "Gang of Four" threatened to withhold support for Malcom Smith for majority leader come January demanding that Latino elected officials also be given prominent posts (three of the four dissidents were Latinos).
Within hours, though, the "Gang of Four" was just "Three" as Senator-elect Hiram Monserrate announced that he would back Smith after all (Monserrate, who has a great track record on LGBT, apparently received certain assurances from Smith in return so the whiplash switch wasn't purely altruistic).
Then on Friday came a potential shocker: Politics on the Hudson speculated that the next to abandon "The Gang" and back Smith would be Diaz himself ("'Gang of Three' meeting today").
That Diaz might abandon "The Gang" has been rumored since last week but news that he might actually back Smith? The same Diaz that issued a press release on Nov. 10 with a direct dig at Smith that read "my position as an ordained minister and a pastor will not allow me to support any would be leader that will bring gay marriage to the Senate floor"?
At least one [anonymous and GOP-leaning] blogger hypothesizes that this might mean that Smith has come to the conclusion that he will not have enough votes for a same-sex marriage bill as majority leader and might sacrifice a marriage vote for Diaz' backing - which would mean Diaz would have actually kept true to his stand even if he backs Smith.
Not sure I buy that scenario.
Still, as Elisabeth Benjamin reports today in The Daily Politics, Smith has accepted an invite to an annual Thanksgiving Day celebration staged by Diaz which will take place tomorrow.
Bizarrely, Senator-elect Pedro Espada - the third Latino in the original crew of four and the one least likely to make overtures to Smith at this moment - seems have agreed to support Diaz' same-sex marriage referendum as part of Diaz' conditions for remaining in the "Gang of Three."
I seem to remember that when Espada wasn't trying to be Diaz's BFF he was seeking LGBT support for his campaigns (the two were literally each other's nemesis for decades). Does this mean that if Diaz ends up splitting from "The Gang," Espada will drop his support for a referendum banning same-sex marriage?
Ah! New York State politics, don't ya love the stench of how things get done in the Empire State?
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