Tag Archives: marriage equality

The Daily Show on Grisanti

28 Jun

The Daily Show on Grisanti’s marriage equality vote (about 2 minutes in):


Grisanti Addresses the Criticism

28 Jun

Mark Grisanti is sorry.

If you based your vote in the 2010 race for the 60th State Senate District  on Grisanti’s then-opposition to same-sex marriage, then he apologizes to you.

Grisanti held a late afternoon press conference at the Mahoney office building yesterday, and had two messages to get across; the apology was one of them. The other? He didn’t horse-trade for his vote.

It’s rare that a political figure so blatantly and openly flip-flops on an issue and reneges on a campaign promise. But Grisanti makes it clear that he agonized over this issue during the six months it was on his agenda, and his exhausted tone and defiant words are loaded with something all too rare in our politics: sincerity.

Grisanti said that his offices were deluged with calls from all around the country, but claimed that they split about 50/50, for and against marriage equality.  He downplayed any rifts, indicating that he had spoken to both Conservative Party chair Ralph Lorigo and Republican Party Chair Nick Langworthy, and while they’re disappointed, everyone has to move on to the next issue.  The elephant in the room? Although the Conservative line helped Grisanti defeat Antoine Thompson last year, neither the ECGOP nor the Conservatives really lifted a finger to help him get elected last year. Aside from the endorsement, there was no lit, no canvassers, nothing. Grisanti beat an entrenched incumbent himself, and it’s clear he bristles at their threats regarding his marriage equality votes.

Rumors are swirling about the possibility that Grisanti will revert back to the Democratic Party – not a bad move in a Democratic district that the likeable, smart Grisanti won handily with an (R) after his name. Now that Langworthy and Lorigo so publicly have their knives out for Grisanti over this vote, Grisanti notably didn’t rule out a party switch at some point in the future.  He said that this same-sex marriage vote, when paired with his 2008 letter strongly opposing it, has taught him not to ever paint himself into a corner again.

Grisanti’s vote wasn’t influenced by the phone calls, or by internet chatter, joking that he can’t even get on his own Facebook page. Instead, he performed legal research on the matter, finding out that civil unions don’t really work, and that married couples enjoy 1,300+ rights and privileges that unmarried couples don’t. He had to compartmentalize his faith and examine the issue purely on the facts and the law, resulting in a conversion.  However, he would not agree to vote in favor of this law without strong religious exemptions and an inseverability clause, which would render the entire law null and void should a future court change so much as one word.  Grisanti says that the clergy to whom he’s spoken since his vote appreciate that language.

Channel 2 and the News’ Bob McCarthy were intensely interested in the “betrayal” angle, and whether Grisanti had committed “political suicide”. Grisanti smiled and replied that he’s new to politics and didn’t make his decision under pressure. He said it was going to pass anyway, but he could not in good conscience refuse to extend basic civil rights to his taxpaying constituents. He said he doesn’t know – or care – whether he committed political suicide with this vote. He didn’t get into politics to be re-elected, but to do good by his constituents. If they decide he should leave Albany, so be it.

Grisanti seems visibly exhausted by the last few weeks, but he went out of his way to defend his honor against those who call him dishonorable, against those who say he cut a deal for UB 2020 or that the governor made him some sort of guarantee in exchange for his vote. He said UB 2020 was a done deal, and that the Governor made absolutely no promises to him, and that there was no quid pro quo whatsoever for his vote.

I guess in western New York politics, we’ve become so cynical and jaded, expecting our electeds to be dirty, dishonorable deal-makers that when we see true leadership, hard work, and conscientious research and analysis, we really don’t know how to react and assume we’re being played.

I don’t think Grisanti is playing anyone.


Tom Ragan vs. Rus Thompson

28 Jun

The video speaks for itself:


Senator Mark Grisanti On His Marriage Equality Vote

25 Jun

Please watch the whole thing, and if you’re a constituent of his, please contact him and pledge your support to help him make up whatever support he may have lost by doing the unthinkable – researching an issue, evolving, and changing his mind.



24 Jun

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/NYSenate/status/84092102086103040″%5D

The New York State Senate is the ultimate tease. Every day, we’re told the votes on the “big ugly” bill dealing with SUNY 2020, tax cap, mandate relief, and rent control reform will be voted on, which would then clear the way for same-sex marriage to be brought to a vote, as well. People thought it would be last night before Senate majority leader Skelos abruptly adjourned the session around 11pm, noting that the bills wouldn’t get printed until 5am anyway, so there was no sense in waiting all night for this. Also, there’s talk that negotiations continue on all of these matters. The Senate is expected to go back into session at 10am Friday, which probably means 3pm.

And every previous day this week and last, we’ve been treated to a similar mix of excited anticipation and disgusted boredom, culminating in disappointment.

There’s hope that today will be the day. And if it’s not today, maybe Monday. Or Tuesday. There’s even been a rumor that Skelos won’t bring it to the floor for a vote at all.

Follow the #ny4m or #ssm or #NYSenate hashtags on Twitter to stay on top of what’s happening minute-by-minute.  Another good one is being promoted by the Senate Democrats: #LetUsVote.

Religious Exemptions in the Marriage Equality Bill: Ample

17 Jun

Certain Republicans in the State Senate are being coy about marriage equality, demanding “stronger” language to exempt religious institutions from being compelled to perform or recognize same-sex marriage in any way. (Translation: followers of Jesus apparently need to be protected from loving committed couples).

Here’s what the bill actually says.

I don’t know what the hell else these guys want in there, and they’re all being pretty vague. Seems to me as if they’re just looking for more and more concessions to enable them to vote no anyway.

Marriage Equality Passes Assembly

16 Jun

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo submitted a message of necessity to the Assembly, which prompted that body to vote on the passage of the marriage equality bill that evening. (Text here). Governor Cuomo issued this statement upon its passage:

“The vote by the State Assembly has moved New York one step closer to making marriage equality a reality. I applaud these legislators’ prompt and courageous support on this measure, which will finally allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry and provide them with hundreds of rights that others take for granted. I commend Speaker Sheldon Silver for his leadership and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell for his tireless work fighting for equality. We are on the verge of a pinnacle moment for this state.”

Of the local Assembly members, here’s how they voted:

In Favor: Hoyt, Peoples-Stokes, Schroeder

Against: Schimminger, Gabryszak, Corwin, Hayes, Ceretto

Although the measure passed 80 – 67, I’m still somewhat dumbstruck by the fact that Assemblymembers who represent largely City of Buffalo constituencies voted in favor of this measure, but the suburban ones – even the Democrats – voted against it. I’ll reach out to all of them to try and get a statement as to why. Corwin’s office sent this along:

The constituents of the 142nd Assembly District have made it very clear to me they do not want to change the definition of marriage in this state. While many of my colleagues shared moving, and very personal stories and I respect them immensely, I cannot vote against the conscience of the thousands of Western New Yorkers I represent.

But she can vote against the conscience and civil rights of her homosexual constituents. Let me put it this way, as bluntly as I can: there is no rational argument against legalizing marriage equality. There are only emotional arguments, religious arguments, and uninformed or outrageous arguments – there are no rational ones. So, to my mind, a vote against marriage equality is a vote against civil rights, is a vote that, in effect, makes same-sex marriage tantamount to a crime, and a de jure nullity. And for what? For nothing. I can pretty much guarantee to all of my religious friends that God and Jesus in heaven aren’t looking down and hoping that lawmakers ensure that gay children of God cannot live their lives as happy and committed couples. Literal reads of God’s book on the matter are unpersuasive, as it also endorses stonings and slavery.

Yesterday I appeared on Brad Riter’s show on WECK 1230-AM, and discussed the marriage equality bill, and gave Brad the “why you should care, and why you should support marriage equality” argument. Listen here.

Of note,

Assemblyman Harry Bronson, D-Rochester, explained how he was discriminated against as a young associate at a law firm for being gay. He soon quit the firm.

“What we do here today matters,” Bronson said on the Senate floor. “What we do here today is to recognize the rights of gay people, to enter a loving, committed relationship with all the protections that come from that marriage and all the responsibilities that come from that marriage.”

On the other hand, Assemblyman Dov Hikind held up the photograph shown above, and offered this sarcastic and noxious statement:

Noting that pop star Lady Gaga supported same-sex marriage, Assemblyman Dov Hikind said sarcastically, “When Lady Gaga got involved and told us and said we should support gay marriage, I said, you know, Lady Gaga, she is an example of how I should lead my life and how I should behave.”

If Hikind means “filthy rich” and “accepting of people’s uniqueness, individualism, and differences”, then yes, Mr. Hikind could indeed take an example from Gaga as to how to lead his life and behave. He chooses to perpetuate hatred, bigotry, and inequality.

So, John Ceretto, Robin Schimminger, Jim Hayes, and Dennis Gabryszak – what’s your excuse?

Epic Fail

With that said, much gratitude to Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, both of whom voted in favor of legalizing love. They deserve to be commended for their stand on behalf of equal rights and justice.

Now the attention turns again to the State Senate, which is on track to vote on this bill on Friday, but could receive a similar message of necessity from the Governor before then and accelerate the schedule. As far as we know, State Senator Kennedy will be voting in favor of the bill, and Senators Gallivan, Maziarz and Ranzenhofer are “no” votes. All eyes, therefore, are on Senator Mark Grisanti, who may be the pivotal vote in an evenly divided Senate, and who has expressed the fact that he is philosophically in favor of marriage equality, but that he feels bound by his Catholicism to vote against it. If you can, please contact Senator Grisanti’s office by email, phone, Twitter, or Facebook, and let him know (nicely) that a vote in favor of civil rights is the right choice.

Legislature Downsizing & Hoyt for Marriage Equality

27 May

Needless Collection of Humans

Jerry, let me tell you something, a man without hand is not a man.  I got so much hand I’m coming out of my gloves. – George Costanza, “The Pez Dispenser

1. I haven’t written much of anything about the county redistricting clusterfiasco because NY-26 has been a preoccupation. Most of what I’m going to write sort of re-hashes what Chris posted yesterday, but I want to add some additional thoughts about how we got here and what it means.

The process was broken from the get-go. It was ground zero for the blood feud between Chris Collins and the Democrats, and Grassroots “Democrats” against the party apparatus led by Len Lenihan. Predictably, it degenerated into ugliness, and the redistricting commission became a joke and a sham to ram through whatever Chris Collins wants; and there were people who call themselves Democrats who were going along with this.

Now that there seem to be two competing maps that are to be voted on by the legislature next week, and that one map is being promoted by the Chris Collins – Republican – Miller-Williams coalition, and the other one is being promoted by the Legislature Democrats. Regardless of which map wins, the people have already lost. The process has been farcical and hypercharged with political idiocy. (Here is the Republican map) (Here is the Democratic map)

Reader and commenter RaChaCha forwarded to me an editorial on the process that was published in the Bee Newspapers. It excoriates the redistricting committee that was chaired by Adam Perry for failing to hold three promised public hearings in more remote parts of the county. I have emailed the Bee to ask whether I can reprint it in its entirety, but offer this key passage:

The committee could have used the opinions and concerns of the public to draw a map that would best serve the people.  Instead, we got a map that best serves the interests of politicians, with continued gerrymandering.  Lines weren’t drawn to best represent the communities but to boost the chances for re-election among the legislators.

In the end, the concerns of the people were overshadowed by the concerns of the politicians looking to remain in office and hold on to a slice of power.

The committee failed us.

Neither plan is perfect, but the Democratic plan is less un-perfect than the Republican/Miller-Williams plan. One has to imagine that Collins will veto the Democratic plan if it passes, and this would set up a very interesting County Executive race in November. Right now, of the three Democrats who are aligned with Collins as part of the ridiculously named “reform coalition”, Miller-Williams is definitely voting for the Republican plan, and Tim Whalen is definitely voting for the Democratic plan. Everyone is waiting to see what West Seneca legislator Tina Bove will do, as she is the swing vote and is probably milking that fact for all it’s worth. We’ll find out next Wednesday at 2.

But remember this: right now, ECDC has hand. Time and time again over the past two years, nominal “Democrats” on the County Legislature have collaborated with Chris Collins against the interests of their own constituents. Real Democrats worked damn hard in 2009 to ensure that the Legislature retained a Democratic majority to check King Collins’ power. Unfortunately, three so-called “Democrats” align themselves instead with Collins when convenient in exchange for a growth of personal power, and at the expense of their constituents, and Democrats who helped them get elected. These people who act out of self-interest to help themselves and Chris Collins aren’t Democrats. Barbara Miller-Williams has become, for all intents and purposes, a mere Collins puppet. Now that ECDC has quite a bit of momentum coming out of the Hochul win, her shenanigans have weakened her and her cohorts considerably. It’s time for Miller-Williams to recognize that (a) she’s the chairwoman of the Legislature; and (b) she sticks a (D) after her name. It’s time for her to consciously decide to act like she is both of those things.

2. Assemblyman Sam Hoyt penned an excellent editorial to the Buffalo News in support of marriage equality.  I’m sure Sam won’t mind if I reprint it here in its entirety:

New York State is at a crossroads. The Legislature is presented with the opportunity to pass a bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, granting them access to the same rights already afforded to straight couples. This comes at a time when national and statewide polls have shown an enormous increase in public support for marriage equality. More New Yorkers than ever recognize that denying our gay and lesbian family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors the right to marry is simply not fair.

Marriage equality is about fairness. It is about ending discrimination. It is about the freedom to marry the person you love and the legal rights that go along with it.

Throughout my career in public service, I have worked for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender New Yorkers. It is an issue that is close to me personally, but beyond that it is a public issue that has the power to change society’s perception. I believe that as an elected official, I have an obligation to help the people in my district who need it the most. It is time for us as representatives to acknowledge the will of the people both in New York and beyond and pass marriage equality legislation.

Some opponents argue that civil unions are a compromise solution that would allow gay and lesbian couples some limited rights. Yet a recent evaluation of the civil union system instituted in neighboring New Jersey showed that the two are not equivalent in practice. Couples joined in civil union faced bureaucratic hurdles that married couples did not. The two institutions were in effect separate, but not equal. Civil unions are not the answer. There is just no substitute for marriage.

To be clear, this legislation expands the legal definition of marriages recognized by the state. No religious institution would be forced to perform marriage for gay or lesbian couples, nor would any religion be compelled to recognize their marriages.

As majority whip, I will do all that I can to ensure that true marriage equality passes for a fourth time in the State Assembly. But once again, the State Senate will be the battleground for this vote. My colleagues in the State Senate must understand that this discrimination against lesbian and gay couples and their families cannot continue any longer. They must understand that a “yes” vote for marriage equality is a “yes” for justice, equality and fairness.

New York State was once a progressive leader in civil rights. It is time for our State Legislature to stand up and make our state a leader once again. We must end this injustice that has gone on for too long by making marriage equality law.