In "Representation that Counts" the paper's editors warily welcome the power-sharing deal that three dissident Democratic State Senators grabbed yesterday as a condition of getting back into the Democratic fold.
On the issue of Latino empowerment, [Ruben] Diaz and [Pedro] Espada Jr. both complained, and rightfully so, about the under-representation of Hispanics in government. They may have succeeded in beginning to turn a page. And they have an opportunity here to build momentum not only for increasing representation, and the quality of it, but ensuring that it yields effective policies and resources for families struggling to get by every day.But they also take exception on one specific issue: Same-sex marriage.
But what is troublesome is that Democrats will not put gay marriage on the table any time soon, to Diaz’s relief and the disappointment of people who have been denied this right.On November 11th, in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8 in California, the paper unequivocally stood behind marriage rights for same-sex couples in New York for the first time ("A stand for same-sex marriage"):
...there are loud voices, among them State Senator Ruben Diaz, who threaten to thwart any legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in New York.
Rev. Diaz and others are supposedly not for denying rights to gays and lesbians but believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. Yet, it’s this very discriminatory position that serves to exclude lesbian and gay couples from accessing rights, benefits and treatment that heterosexuals take for granted.
This use of religious beliefs to block basic civil rights undermines the separation of church and state in this nation. The basis of that separation lies in the experience of early American colonists who had fled religious persecution elsewhere to pursue tolerance and freedom in the “new” world.
At the time I noted that it was striking that the paper had rightly singled out Diaz for scorn on this issue. In a terse response posted at the Room 8 blog, Diaz returned the favor by railing against El Diario, New York State Governor David Paterson and Hillary Clinton - while praising Republican leaders ("In total disagreement with El Diario La Prensa").
One of The Gang's most compelling criticisms before they ended their stalemate yesterday was the lack of Latino leadership in what was shaping up as the axis of power in Albany for the next few years. But is showering them with perks and titles the best way to increase Latino representation or just a reward for their intransigence and self-serving moves?
Guess which three Democrats have learned that they can grand-stand their way to power the next time the Democratic Senate majority stands in the way of one of their pet projects.
Update: Today's New York Times on the deal ("3 Senate Democrats End Holdout in Return for Power Sharing"):
More important, said people involved in the negotiations, Mr. [Ruben] Díaz is now confident that there will be no vote in the Senate next year on legislation to legalize gay marriage, something which most Senate Democrats support but which Mr. Diaz strongly opposes.
Word of the potential retreat on a same-sex marriage legislation disappointed some backers of equal treatment for gay people.
“All civil rights movements have moments where they move forward, and moments of perceived setbacks,” said Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell of Manhattan. “If in fact our civil rights were bargained away, that’s deplorable. But in the end, I think justice and fairness will prevail.”