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12/10/2008

NY: Things on the ups for our nups

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Future-Grant-Projects Projects Seatosea Ny-Map 1-1-1-1Things had been looking bleak for us NY-based gays. Due to the intimidation tactics of a so-called "gang of three" Democrats, it looked as if our rights were going to be thrown under a bus in order to appease less-than-gay-friendly bullies. We queer folk were, understandably, in a New York State of pissed.

Well, fast forward to today. Check out the latest from the AP:

ALBANY, N.Y. - Senate Democratic leader Malcolm Smith said Wednesday any deal with three dissidents to secure his party's hold on the chamber majority is officially off.

Smith said he has the support of the Democratic Caucus and has ceased negotiations with the three, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Sen.-elect Pedro Espada Jr., both of the Bronx, and Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn. Their support would give the party a 32-30 majority beginning Jan. 1 after decades of Republican control.

"We're prepared to wait if we have to to come into the majority," Smith said. He was flanked by senators Neil Breslin of Albany and Liz Krueger of Manhattan when he made the announcement.

Smith said the three renegades were motivated by "personal interests." He also said he wouldn't subject civil rights issues to negotiation, referring to a proposal backed by many Democrats to legalize gay marriage.

"That issue should never be a part of a negotiation," Smith said, and should be subject to the legislative process.

Smith: Deal off with dissident NY Senate Democrats [AP via Newsday]

A-to the frickin'-men! A principled stand over an easy "fix." In this day of political nutsoness, that's a refreshing change of pace!

Will this gamble forfeit a Democratic majority? Will it give us marriage equality in '09? That remains to be seen. But refusing to bargain away civil rights has given Malcolm Smith the ability to sleep at night knowing he didn't sell one group out in order to appease a rogue bully. There's something to be said for that.

**SEE ALSO: NY Senator Diaz Sr. Issues Threat to Gays as Dem Deal Breaks Down [Towle]

**SEE ALSO, ALSO: A statement from The Empire State Pride Agenda's dynamic leader, Alan Van Capelle:

Statement by Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle

December 10, 2008 - “We applaud Senator Malcolm Smith’s ongoing efforts to lead the new Senate Majority that voters chose during the recent elections. By stating that reform in the Senate cannot include bargaining away civil rights, Senator Smith has once again demonstrated his commitment to standing up for all New Yorkers.

The Pride Agenda looks forward to continuing to work with Senator Smith when the legislative session starts. In the meantime we will be working with legislative leaders—Democrats and Republicans—and continuing to do what we’ve been doing all along: working with our community and our allies across New York, including those from communities of faith and organized labor, to earn the votes we need to bring the marriage equality bill to the floor of the Senate for passage.”

The Pride Agenda Responds to Sen. Malcolm Smith’s Press Conference on Leadership Negotiations [Agenda blog]

**NOTE: We've heard from others who question whether Smith really took a principled stand, or if it's that the Democratic caucus left him little to no choice about backing away from the "gang of three" dealings. So it could be the Dem caucus we should be celebrating, not Smith.

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Your thoughts

Hot Damn! Score one for the good guys!

Posted by: K | Dec 10, 2008 2:45:54 PM

I love seeing bigots get theirs.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Dec 10, 2008 3:07:04 PM

What's very clear is that Prop 8 has awakened the masses of gays such that "we aren't waiting for our rights to be handed to us" any more. I have always believed that even though we are a small minority, our voices would be heard if we spoke up in a greater proportion to our numbers. THAT IS FINALLY HAPPENING, and it is a wonderful development.

The result is the breakdown of the power structure in the "black tie" gay rights movement that has worked quietly, behind the scenes, and entirely ineffectually, for years. I wouldn't be surprised that our current "leaders," when presented with the ultimatum of Diaz, would say to Smith: "Oh shucks, just form a coalition with the gang of three. We can wait for our rights."

Instead, we have seen non-professional, untrained, previously non-activist gays saying: "No way! We've waited long enough," and calling Smith's office and Diaz's office, and setting up Facebook pages, etc. And I wouldn't be surprised that THIS got Smith's attention, no matter how principled the guy may be.

I think we need to keep up the noise on the federal level, to make sure DADT, ENDA, and civil unions don't fall off the agenda.

I think we're finally believing that we have our own power to make a change. I go back to Obama's message: "WE are the ones we have been waiting for."

Posted by: | Dec 10, 2008 5:38:33 PM

The previous unsigned comment ending with Obama's quote was mine. Oops.

Posted by: Walt | Dec 10, 2008 5:39:19 PM

Great...that was a very negative turn of events. I am so glad it got put down publically. I truly think that NEWSWEKK deserve kudos for being a major MSM model for helping us
FIGHT OUT LOUD... LOUDER even LOUDEST!!!
New Jersy is doing its part too. As is IOWA...and the Florida courts with children.
Havent' been able to view Jon Stewart and Huckabee yet... no MAC link.. but the report from the Courage Campaign was positive.

FRONT SEAT of the BUS until we get EQUAL RIGHTS people!!!
PS: Happy 60th Human Rights Day...

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 10, 2008 7:58:23 PM

Leadership shake up here in CA too. This in from EQ CA: New board members...better late than never, I guess.
Please welcome powerful new voices in the fight for equality as the boards of Equality California and Equality California Institute elected new members.

We are very excited that actress Wanda Sykes has joined the Equality California Institute Board of Directors and leaders from organized labor, faith communities, the entertainment industry and electoral politics have joined the Equality California Board of Directors including:

Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers
Rabbi Steven Jacobs of Los Angeles
Hon. Lloyd Levine, former Assemblymember for the 40th District (Van Nuys)
Rev. Abel Lopez of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena
Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU United Healthcare Workers, the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the Western United States,
Kathy Spillar, the executive editor of Ms. Magazine and executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 10, 2008 8:00:25 PM

If anyone is interested, this is Senator Smith's email address.

masmith@senate.state.ny.us

Send him your thanks for not giving into the homo-bigots.

You might also want to send an emphatic "HA!" to Senator Diaz at diaz@senate.state.ny.us, like I did. I wanted to write "HA! Suck it!" but thought that might be over the top. I think the "HA!" on its own was sufficient.

Posted by: stojef | Dec 10, 2008 8:06:41 PM

We all owe Senator Smith a thank you.

Can you feel it? Now is the time to be brave. The homophobes are NOT going to give up or negotiate with us. Stand up, queers, and take what is yours!

And speaking of paraphrasing, let's revisit grade school for a minute:

...all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And one that is actually the rule of law in the US and often overlooked:

The 9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Hello Constitutional Literalists (I'm talkin' to you,
The Honorable Scalia); sure the Founding Fathers didn't consider gay marriage. They were much, much smarter than those who assume an over-two-century-old document could enumerate every right to every person for ever and ever. They understood that they were building a framework. The language is clear.

You have the right, the DUTY to demand equal treatment as an American. Honor your country, and do it!

Posted by: Sykler | Dec 10, 2008 8:44:18 PM

Like Kennedy said, "the time has come for America to fulfill its promise."

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Dec 10, 2008 9:30:38 PM

Hell yes! I'm so proud of my state :)
(Even though my state senator is an icky conservative who thinks I'm an abomination. Good to know she's outnumbered)

Posted by: Claire | Dec 15, 2008 6:06:22 AM

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