Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Albany, one very good thing about one very bad mess

If you haven't heard: New York State Democratic Senators Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate, who face potentially career-ending legal battles in the near future, seem to have pulled a leadership coup d'état by voting with Senate Republicans to remove current Democratic Majority Leader Malcom Smith, and replace him with Republican State Senator Dean Skelos.

Caught way off-guard, Smith has argued that the vote is worthless since he says it came after Monday's session had ended - an argument that has been challenged - and has said that he will not step back on the Senate floor unless he is assured that it won't be governed by "unlawful rules." The politerati pretty much agree that -legal argument viable or not - Smith is toast.

Doors to the Senate Chamber have been under lock and paddle since Monday evening (photo credit: Daily News).

What a mess, you may say! And so do I! But lost in the whole melee was that yesterday was the date chosen by anti-gay groups for their "Stand 4 Marriage Rally" and lobby day trip to Albany!

Yes! Yesterday was supposed to be the big launch of the united forces against equality campaign in New York. Yesterday was the day that the homophobic National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher was supposed to stand in a loving embrace with homophobic State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. and blow anti-gay kisses towards the legislative chambers. Yesterday was the day that Michael Long, Chairman of the State Conservative Party; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. of the High Impact Leadership Coalition; Rev. Duane Motely of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms; Democratic Assemblymember Michael Benjamin; and Republican State Senator Marty Golden were all supposed to urge the Senate not to allow a marriage bill on the floor and to oppose it if it it ever came up for a vote.

Oh noes! So sad! NOMfail! Again.

To be sure, there were probably other community groups who planned to lobby for worthwhile bills and causes this week and you have to feel bad for them for the energy spent herding participants and expenses spent on transportation and such. But how great is it that NOM gets there only to find the doors shut down?

Mediawise, the groups also laid a big fat egg. I found only a few articles with The Legislative Gazette naming some of the speakers who attended, and Capital News 9 saying that hundreds showed up.

Today Jeremy at Good As You posted the YouTube video above from Capital 9 News as well as some image captures. They show a good crowd but it's difficult to estimate whether there are the 1,000 that some conservative groups have estimated. ChinoBlanco, who originally posted the video online, called it "a flop."

So, let's say that you go to Albany to lobby your State Senators but there are no State Senators to lobby. What do you do? Well, paint a smiley face on the whole thing and call it a success, of course.

See the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms in the video telling the crowd "What God has done is dropped a huge boulder in the path of the same sex-marriage bill yesterday, when the Senate coup took place."

Apparently he felt that a Republican-led power play meant that the Senate marriage bill was dead on arrival during the current session.

Oops! Good luckwith that! The man on the video above is non other than former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, a Republican who was perhaps one of three of the most powerful politicians in the state until he resigned last year. He is facing indictments in several corruption charges which he has vowed to prove unfounded, but is still held in high-esteem by a large number of State Republican Senators.

More than a few jaws hit the ground when word came that Bruno was backing marriage equality. Rod at Manhattan Offender simply said "Words Fail", Joe at Joe.My.God said "THUD" and Andy Towleroad wrote "The times are changing, and quickly."

Longtime LGBT rights advocate Michelangelo Singorile, who hosts a daily radio show on Sirius, wrote that "Hell Has Frozen Over" and described Bruno as "a man who held up a gay rights bill for years, without allowing a vote and has been a fierce foe of gay rights". He added:
Now we have Bruno coming out for marriage for gays and lesbians -- a man who still has a lot of influence among Republicans in the State Senate -- and actually agreeing to speak out and try to sway Republicans (we only need four Republicans or so to win this) at Governor Paterson's request on the issue. I think it's clear that they see the handwriting on the wall: The entire Northeast has gone for marriage equality, while, on a variety of issues, the Republican Party is having a moment of truth nationally and surely in the region. There will soon only be two Republicans in New York State's Congressional delegation, as the national party went further to the right and people in New York just weren't going to go there.
Indeed! And that Bruno video certainly added to the NOMfail Tuesday atmosphere. Amazing that a marriage equality bill might come to the State Senate floor as soon as next week, as a result of a Republican power-play, and that it has better chances to pass today than even last week, thanks to Republican pressure on State Republican Senators. Only in New York, folks! Although it ust be said that everything is still up in the air and that everything might change again.

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