Sen. Addabbo urged to back gay marriage bill

Author: Anna Gustafson
Publication: Queens Chronicle
Publication Date: April 28th, 2011

Read the full article at the Queens Chronicle 
 
Gay marriage advocates brought their fight to Queens last week, urging constituents in state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr.’s (D-Howard Beach) district to encourage the politician to support legislation he voted against in 2009. 
 
About 18 people from Human Rights Campaign, Log Cabin Republicans, the Empire State Pride Agenda, New Yorkers United for Marriage and Freedom to Marry gathered outside the Metro Mall in Middle Village on Saturday and spoke to hundreds of people, the majority of whom organizers said were in support of gay marriage. 

 “The goal here is to educate and mobilize New Yorkers to make sure the super majority of New Yorkers who support marriage equality have their voices heard this time,” said Brian Ellner, a senior strategist at the Human Rights Campaign. “This is a moderate, mainstream issue that has support across demographics. There’s extraordinary momentum on the issue in the state and nationally with the recent repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and President Obama’s decision to have the attorney general stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act.” 
 
A Siena poll released earlier this month reported 58 percent of New Yorkers are for gay marriage, an increase over the approximate 51 percent who supported it the last time the state Senate voted on a bill that would legalize gay marriage in 2009. 
 
Ellner said his organization and others are traveling throughout the state to urge support for a marriage equality bill, which has yet to be introduced in the state legislature. Gov. Cuomo has said legalizing gay marriage is a priority of his, and Mayor Bloomberg too has said he would support the measure. 
 
The groups are expected to travel to Sen. Shirley Huntley’s (D-Jamaica) district as well. Huntley joined Addabbo in voting down the gay marriage bill in 2009. The Assembly passed legislation that would legalize gay marriage in 2007 and 2009. 
 
Both Addabbo and Huntley have not said they are definitely against a marriage equality bill this time around and argued they needed more time to get feedback from constituents. They had said the majority of their districts were against gay marriage in 2009, which they said was the reason they voted against it. 
 
“I don’t know if things have changed,” Addabbo said of a shift in his district in support of gay marriage. “In the end, when the bill comes to the floor, and there’s no telling when that is, I’ll make my decision based on the feedback from people in my district.” 
 
Addabbo said he asked residents to contact him about gay marriage in his most recent newsletter. 
 
“We want to hear from people about this,” he said. 
 
Even if the Queens Democrats changed their tune and vote for the bill, it does not necessarily mean victory for gay marriage. 
 
While the legislation is expected to pass the Assembly, it did not pass the Senate in 2009 — and that was when Democrats were in charge. 
 
Now, Republicans control the Senate 32-30, and it’s unclear if any would vote for the legislation. No Senate Republican voted for it last time. 
 
Still, officials from the Log Cabin Republicans said they aim to change that. 
 
“We believe equality for gay and lesbian people is in the finest tradition of the Republican party,” the group states on its web site. “Opposing gay and lesbian equality is inconsistent with the GOP’s core principles of smaller government and personal freedom.”