New York saw disappointment last week when LGBT groups had their hopes of a 2009 same-sex marriage bill dashed as a leading voice in the fight for gay marriage, Senator Malcolm A. Smith who, while attending a Human Rights Campaign event on Saturday, told a crowd of gay marriage supporters: “Hold up … although we do not have the number of votes at this time needed to pass the marriage equality gender bill this legislative session, we are committed to pursuing its passage.”
Mr. Smith then went on to clarify to reporters that, “The fact of the matter is we don’t have the votes right now. So I’m working hard to get the votes.”
Senator Smith’s constant support for the gay marriage bill, as seen throughout his ascending career, has won him both praise and considerable opposition, and this statement further emphasizes that whilst the Democratic party is one that is liberal at heart, not all Democratic Senators embrace changes to the social construct of marriage.
In fact, a prominent three of the 32 New York Democrat leaders threatened to resign over Malcolm A. Smith’s becoming head of the chamber, as they opposed his “agenda” on gay marriage rights. Senator Pedro Espada Jr., Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. of the Bronx, and Senator Carl Krugen of Brooklyn, all threatened to leave, but Smith proved victorious, although with many LGBT campaign groups worrying that Malcolm A. Smith’s effectiveness on the gay rights and gay marriage issue may have been compromised.
Senator Smith’s own admission of the likelihood of a gay marriage bill passing in 2009 seem to confirm this, however, at the same fund-raising event, the New York Times reports that Senator Thomas K. Dune (D) was more up-beat, saying “We’re still counting votes … I’d say the situation is very fluid.”
However, elsewhere in the U.S.A., the gay marriage fight looked more positive when, on Friday of last week, Wyoming nailed the coffin lid tightly closed on a bill designed to ban gay marriage, after votes of 35-25 in opposition of the “Defense of Marriage” resolution were counted.
The bill, which sought to define marriage purely in heterocentric terms and therefore amend the Wyoming Constitution to exclude the possibility of gay marriage, was supported by Republican Owen Peterson, and follows 30 other states who have similarly amended their constitutions in that way.
A group called the WyWatch Family Institute, who are closely linked with Focus on the Family, an organization that is extremely vocal in their opposition of gay marriage, backed the bill, citing that, in trying to push for the bill they were “… trying to protect the children, because when you have a same-sex marriage, you’re denying that child either a mother or a father.”
They later called the failure of the bill a “grave injustice.” The defeat has been hailed by gay groups across the United States, who are hoping for similar opposition to an Indiana bill that would likewise amend the constitution against gay marriage.
Last week in Vermont, a sound step toward gay marriage was taken when a gay marriage bill was introduced by two Burlington lawmakers, Representative Mark Larson and David Zuckerman, with fifty nine co-sponsors, and whilst none are Republican, early indications are that they will likely support the bill, with Republican House Leader Patti Komline giving assurances that, as far as she was concerned, this move was in accordance with Vermont’s track record of progressive legislature, and was “a civil rights issue” that she was behind.
This track record includes Vermont being the first state to offer gay and lesbian partners the right of civil unions following a Supreme Court decision in favor of the move. Similarly, the Senate will have a bill introduced also pushing for gay marriage, with many gay rights groups in Vermont being “hopeful” of a positive outcome, and the groups are now extending their focus to the rest of the region, two states of which, Massachusetts and Connecticut, already offer gay marriage.
And finally, in other gay marriage news, the Californian Supreme Court has announced that it will hear testimony on Proposition 8 and the legitimacy of its passing on March 5. Proposition 8 was passed last year after 54 percent of Nov. 4 voters brought the bill into force, and is a legal measure that denies same sex marriage in California by amending the constitution as the Wyoming bill would have done, in spite of the fact that the Supreme Court had previously decided to recognize gay marriage as lawful earlier that year.
Proposition 8 has proven to be a hot topic throughout America and has drawn widespread debate from those both pro and against gay marriage. President Obama recently said that although he does not support gay marriage, as he believes marriage is between a man and a woman only, he fully endorses the repeal of Proposition 8, as it facilitated the repealing of the Californian gay community’s rights, something which he classified as “un-American.”