By Michael Gormley • May 17, 2011
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - There may be a crack in the united effort to legalize gay marriage in New York as a gay advocacy group on Tuesday questioned Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resolve to pass the measure he's called a top priority.
Queer Rising issued a joint statement with the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club in New York City criticizing Cuomo's comment last week that he won't bring the issue to the Republican-controlled Senate unless its passage is certain. The groups see that as a weakening of the effort by the popular Democratic governor, who has been closely allied with the Senate's Republican majority on budget and property tax cap initiatives.
"Cuomo's support for marriage equality is appearing more to be a political stunt than an act of commitment to do the right thing," said Queer Rising's Natasha Dillon. "The governor has not done the lobbying necessary to change votes. He had misled New Yorkers into believing that passage of marriage equality was going to happen this year and now is backtracking. It is our responsibility to hold him accountable for the promises he made to get elected."
Cuomo didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. He and his top staffers are leading an effort that unifies several groups that have been pushing to legalize gay marriage by the end of the session on June 20.
Senate Democratic leader John Sampson of Brooklyn said Tuesday he has more votes for a gay marriage bill than when the measure lost in 2009, but that Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos won't let it get to a floor vote.
"I don't expect Sen. Skelos to bring it to the floor, if the Conservative Party has anything to do with it," Sampson said in an interview. "I believe the governor is doing all he can to push the issue, but there is deafening silence from the Senate majority."
Skelos, like influential state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, opposes legalizing gay marriage. But Skelos has said he would allow his conference to vote its conscience on the issue. There was no immediate comment from Skelos on Tuesday.
The Republicans hold a 32-30 majority in the chamber, where a gay marriage bill fell eight votes shy of approval in 2009 despite Democrats holding the majority. The measure has strong support in the Democrat-led Assembly.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.