Cuomo in step with Dems on social issues

Posted by Karen DeWitt on

"Much of the focus in the first two weeks of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s term has been on the state’s financial crisis, and the new governor’s fiscally conservative prescriptions: a public employee wage freeze, spending cuts, a property tax cap.

"Cuomo, a Democrat, is more in step with his party when it comes to social issues. ...

"Governor Andrew Cuomo's declaration in his State of the State speech that he supports passage of a marriage equality bill this year in New York drew the second biggest round of applause in the entire speech. 'We believe in justice for all, then let's pass marriage equality this year once and for all,' said Cuomo, to cheers.

"Ross Levi, with the gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda, says he thinks 'it's very significant' that Cuomo featured the issue in his speech. He says Cuomo also reauthorized an executive order that prohibits discrimination against transgendered people in state employent, and appointed an African American, openly gay man, Alphonso David, as Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights.

"The measure to legalize marriage for same-sex couples has been approved in the State Assembly, but it failed in the State Senate when it was put on the floor in December of 2009.  Democratic leaders, who controlled the Senate then, favored the bill but could not muster enough yes votes. Now, Republicans are back in charge.

"Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said while he's personally against the freedom to marry, he'll seek to bring the bill to the floor later in the session.  In an interview, Skelos said he'll first discuss the matter with the other 31 GOP Senate members.

"'Certainly I would be supportive of it coming out for a vote,' said Skelos. 'But that's going to be a conference decision.'

"Levi, with Pride Agenda, says his group will lobby Senators, by bringing ordinary New Yorkers to the Capitol in the coming weeks to tell their stories.

"'Loving, committed couples talking about how they're harmed by not having access to marriage,' said Levi, who said the group would also include 'business leaders, talking about how New York stands to gain $135 million dollars' in increased business, by passing marriage equality."

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