Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gang of Three deal kaput; "Real reform cannot and should not ever include limiting the civil rights of any New Yorkers," says Smith

In a stunning turnaround, Senate Democratic Leader Malcom Smith announced this morning that the deal he had brokered with the so-called "Gang of Three" to get their backing for State Senate Majority Leader come January is all but dead.

The deal would allegedly have come at the expense of a same-sex marriage bill that had been expected to be introduced in the upcoming legislative term.

Now we have this statement from Smith:
Today I am announcing that the Democratic Members of the Senate have elected to cease negotiations on reorganization matters with all three Senators as discussed both in private and in the press. We are suspending negotiations, effective immediately, because to do so otherwise would reduce our moral standing and the long-term Senate Democratic commitment to reform and to change. We believe that ultimately, we must do what is right for the people of the State of New York. Furthermore, real reform cannot and should not ever include limiting the civil rights of any New Yorkers. Those issues must be part of the legislative process.

The members of this Conference have come a long way to consider the demands placed on the table. But frankly, we would rather wait two more years to take charge of the Senate than to simply serve the interests of the few. New York State cannot afford the type of self-serving politics being proposed and I will not be the leader to sacrifice what is right for New York for a quick political solution.
The Empire State Pride Agenda, the leading LGBT-rights organization in New York State, also has a statement out from Alan Van Capelle, their Executive Director:
We applaud Senator Malcolm Smith’s ongoing efforts to lead the new Senate Majority that voters chose during the recent elections. By stating that reform in the Senate cannot include bargaining away civil rights, Senator Smith has once again demonstrated his commitment to standing up for all New Yorkers.

The Pride Agenda looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Smith when the legislative session starts. In the meantime we will be working with legislative leaders—Democrats and Republicans—and continuing to do what we’ve been doing all along: working with our community and our allies across New York, including those from communities of faith and organized labor, to earn the votes we need to bring the marriage equality bill to the floor of the Senate for passage.
For their part, the Gang is reacting to the morning's announcement with the Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., claiming that they were the ones to break up the deal and, as only as he can do, painting the developments as an anti-Hispanic move by Smith and Pedro Espada saying that Smith is not ready for prime time.

By the way, Diaz is also doing what he does best: Blaming the gays! [h/t Joe.My.God], telling the New York Daily News' Elizabeth Benjamin the following:
The gays are calling my office. They're jamming my phones. They're going to see what we can do. They've going to see exactly what we can do. Ed Koch is going to see what we can do. They're just going to see. That is what I'm telling you.
I guess Jeff Campagnia's phone-in campaign must have gotten under his skin. Pardon my French, but what an asshole. This man needs to be run out of office ASAP.

I wish I could say, as other bloggers are saying out there, that Smith finally grew a spine and decided to stand on his principles. I certainly respected him a great deal before this mess began. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the collapse of the 'deal' is more a representation of how unattainable his promises to the 'Gang of Three' had become in light of increasing anger from Democrats of what the 'deal' would cost. Smith certainly comes off looking worse than when this began.

Here is some of the coverage of today's developments:

1 comment:

John K said...

What a total mess! I wish there were a way to get Díaz Sr. in particular out of there, but I also wonder, are all the Senate Republicans against the same-sex marriage bill, or are there are few moderates who might be induced to support it, thus getting around Díaz's opposition?