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POLITICS ASIDE COLUMN 12-10

USE POLITICS ASIDE LOGO WITH DANIEL EGERS BYLINE
USE POLITICS ASIDE LOGO WITH DANIEL EGERS BYLINE

No matter where you stand on gay marriage, there are many reasons to be troubled by the State Senate vote this past week.

First, Governor David A. Paterson and senate leaders had to know they did not have the votes to pass the bill, but went ahead with the vote anyway. With Democrats like Ruben Diaz from the Bronx and Queens’ own Shirley Huntley making their opposition well known, Republican votes were needed. However, Rochester-area Republican Jim Alesi, a Republican considered most likely to back the measure, previously said there was not enough support for passage and that the climate now was not right.

So why would Paterson and the senate majority press ahead with a bill destined to fail, which raises a very emotional and divisive issue for so many New Yorkers on both sides of the debate, especially when there is so much that needs to be addressed in Albany?

New York State is facing a monumental deficit of $3.1 billion and unemployment stands at 9 percent, while many have noted that the recently passed Deficit Reduction Plan does not do enough – with too much borrowing against future revenue.

The answer is simple. Paterson is desperately searching for a legacy and allies – and is looking to gay marriage and its supporters for both. The Governor has taken to the airwaves this month with a barrage of commercials and has barely seen his poll numbers budge.

Indeed, Democrats in Albany view Paterson as virtually a non-factor. He made calls to Democratic senators considered swing votes on gay marriage, but to no avail. One swing vote was Senator Joe Addabbo of Howard Beach, and here is another reason to be bothered by the gay marriage vote.

Addabbo voted against the bill even though gay marriage advocates helped get him elected last year over Republican Senator Serf Maltese. As a City Councilmember, Addabbo supported gay rights and received the maximum contribution to his Senate race, $9,500, from prominent software entrepreneur Tim Gill, founder of influential gay philanthropic and political action organizations.

To say gay rights groups feel betrayed by Addabbo is an understatement. Whatever they or anyone else would say about Maltese, everyone knew where Serf stood on the issue.

He defends his vote by noting that 74 percent of the emails and calls he received to his district office were against gay marriage. However, we all know that the constituents who actually contact an elected official tend to be the most passionate and do not necessarily represent the body politic.

Addabbo refuses to say where he personally stands on the issue. Whatever happened to following the courage of your convictions? Of course, he’s not the first politician to try to have it both ways.

It was already known that Addabbo will face tough Republican opposition next year, potentially from City Councilmember Eric Ulrich or former Councilmember Anthony Como. Now, he might face a Democratic primary opponent from the left, before a very liberal primary electorate. Then Addabbo might have his own reason to be upset with the gay marriage vote.

Daniel Egers is Executive Director of the Queens County Republican Party, a Trustee of the Bayside Historical Society and President of the Friends of Oakland Lake, among other affiliations. The views expressed in this column are his own.

 

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