MARRIAGE DIGEST: With Gillibrand, 'gay marriage' gets another Senate supporter
Posted on Jan 23, 2009 | by Michael Foust
WASHINGTON (BP)--If supporters of "gay marriage" want a boost of confidence, they merely need to look at the U.S. Senate, where the number of supporters of "gay marriage" has grown quietly within the past year -- and apparently grew further Friday with the naming of a new senator from New York.
One year ago, only two U.S. senators -- Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin -- publicly backed the legalization of "gay marriage." Today, that number is up to at least six, and could inch even higher depending on what happens to the open seat in Minnesota. All of the Senate's "gay marriage" backers are Democrats.
Both of California's senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, came out for "gay marriage" last year during their failed bid to prevent the passage of California Proposition 8, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.
New U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon also backs "gay marriage" -- so much so that he placed a statement on his campaign website stating that he "strongly supports marriage equality and will lead the way for equal rights in the U.S. Senate." Merkley defeated former Sen. Gordon Smith, who opposed "gay marriage."
Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand became the latest supporter of "gay marriage" in the Senate when she was named by New York Gov. David A. Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton. Support for "gay marriage" is a new position for Gillibrand. The Empire State Pride Agenda, a homosexual activist group, released a statement Friday saying it been told by Gillibrand herself that she backs "gay marriage," the New York Daily News reported. She seemed to say as much during a recent interview with a New York homosexual media outlet when asked her position on "gay marriage."
"What I'd like to do legislatively, on the federal level -- and I think we'll be able to do this with the new president -- is actually make civil unions legal in all 50 states, make it the law of the land," she said, before adding, "I think the way you win this issue is you focus on getting the rights and privileges protected throughout the entire country, and then you do the state-by-state advocacy for having the title."
Additionally, Minnesota's Al Franken, who is trying to unseat Norm Coleman and led by 225 votes after a recount, favors "gay marriage." The victor apparently won't be known until after a recount trial.
N.Y. SENATE DEMS REACH DEAL -- New York's state Senate Democrats reached a deal in early January, despite concerns from one senator, Ruben Diaz Sr., about the issue of "gay marriage." The Democrats won a razor-thin majority of 32-30, meaning that if even one senator defected, Senate control was in jeopardy. Republicans controlled the Senate last session and the previous four decades.
The controversy focused on Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, who had promised a floor vote on a "gay marriage" bill and was vying to become majority leader. But Diaz, a Pentecostal minister, released a statement in December saying that his position as a minister "will not allow me to support any would-be leader that will bring gay marriage to the Senate floor."
In the end Diaz did support Smith, although it's unclear as to what was discussed. Neither Smith nor Diaz would say whether they talked about "gay marriage," WXXI radio in New York reported.
A bill that would legalize "gay marriage" passed the state Assembly in 2007 but never got a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In the end, it may not matter whether it gets a vote in the Senate.
"There are still five or six votes against the bill in the Democratic conference," Democratic state Sen. Jeffrey D. Klein said, according to The New York Times. "And I certainly don't know five or six Republicans who are going to vote for it."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.