Gay Marriage in New York: The 'No' Democrats

Monday, May 09, 2011

If and when the New York state legislature votes on a bill allowing same sex couples to get married, all eyes will be on the Senate, where every similar effort over the past five years has met its demise. Republicans tend to vote against gay marriage as a bloc, while Democrats struggle to present a united front in favor—indeed, insiders perceive that failure to secure enough votes on the Left makes dominoes on the Right less likely to fall.

This time around, there are four Democrats who are either 'undecided' or solidly 'no.' Here's a look at the party's spoilers.

Shirley Huntley (NY-10): Undecided

Huntley was a 'no' vote in 2009, when a gay marriage bill last made the rounds in Albany. The Queens senator maintains that she was voting the will of her constituency, and says she will continue to do so. But Huntley also once said she wouldn't vote for such a bill even if someone gave her a million dollars.

However, she's been non-committal about a repeat 'no' so far this session. Asked in March about legalizing same sex marriage, Huntley replied, “I don’t have any thoughts. I’m thinking about the budget and senior centers in my district. When it comes up, I’ll think about it.”

Joseph Addabbo (NY-15): Undecided

Almost everything said about Shirley Huntley can be said about Joseph Addabbo: he's a Queens Democrat who voted 'no' in 2009 and chalked it up to the will of his constituency. Also like Huntley, Addabbo's on the fence this time around.

“You can probably be listing me as undeclared. I mentioned to pro-marriage equality groups and those in my district, I’m going to talk to the people in my district and get a consensus on where they are,” Addabbo said. “I have actually said we’ll make a better effort this time, to get a more clear idea of where the constituents are.”

Addabbo enjoys a unique position in the State Senate thanks to his name: at the top of the alphabet, he's the first one to vote on every bill. In 2009, that meant the lead-off vote on gay marriage was a Democrat saying 'no.' At least one undecided Republican—Jim Alesi, second in the alphabet and second to vote—said that Addabbo's vote made it instantly clear that there wouldn't be enough Democrats on board to pass the bill. Alesi, who appeared to waver until the last possible minute, wound up voting 'no' with the rest of his party.

Carl Kruger (NY-27): Unclear

Kruger waffled between 'undecided' and 'no' in the run up to the 2009 vote, but ended up voting against the bill.

Due to some legal trouble, the Brooklyn Senator's position on this matter—as well as his sexual orientation—has drawn scrutiny in recent months. Kruger faces federal corruption charges for allegedly using bribes to pay for a mortgage on a waterfront mansion (among other goodies) in Mill Basin, NY, where Kruger spends most of his time with the Turano family: two brothers named Michael and Gerard, and their 73-year old mother. Michael Turano is rumored to be Kruger's secret lover—why else would he be driving a Bentley paid for out of a state senator's coffers, some ask.

However, Kruger's camp refuses to confirm this, and the rumor remains just that: a rumor. Were it true, his 'undecided' position would be especially ironic. Even more ironic would be if the senator decided to support gay marriage, and then didn't get to vote because he's being prosecuted for funneling bribes into his gay partner's wallet. That would be something.

Ruben Diaz (NY-32): No

Ruben Diaz is as likely to vote 'yes' on same sex marriage as he is to announce that he's the secret love child of Elvis and Hitler, both of whom happen to be alive, well, and retired in Boca. A pentecostal minister, Diaz is, will, and has always been a 'no' on gay rights issues; Diaz is even the main organizer of a recently-announced anti-gay march in New York City on May 15th. He held a similar rally in 2009, during the lead-up to the Senate vote on the most recent marriage equality bill to fail.

Notice anything interesting about these senators? They're all from New York City.

State Senator Diane Savino (D-23), a staunch supporter of legalizing gay marriage, may not buy the constituency excuse used by Senators Huntley and Addabbo, but there is some evidence that if pockets of opposition exist in state senate districts, they're most likely to be found in the five boroughs.

The most recent Siena Research Institute poll shows statewide support for gay marriage at an all-time high of 58 percent. Siena then breaks the state down into three regions: New York City, Upstate, and Suburbs. Of the three, NYC has the lowest margin of support for gay marriage, with only 54 percent in favor. Upstate, the number is 64 percent.

Statewide, opposition is also strongest from minority voters. Thirty-two percent of whites are against same sex marriage, compared to 45 percent of blacks and Hispanics, who also make up a significantly larger portion of the NYC population than the total state population.

Income is also an indicator, and Siena finds most opposition to same sex marriage from people making less than $50,000 per year. Median household incomes in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens all fall below the statewide median of about $55,000 per year, while Manhattan and Staten Island's are higher.

Siena does not have polling data for individual boroughs or senate districts, as the sample size was too small for them to accurately get that micro. That makes it difficult to answer the question of whether or not Shirley Huntley and Joseph Addabbo were really voting with their constituencies when they said 'no' in 2009. While the most recent support numbers based on race and income don't clear them of voting their own conscience, it lends credence to the idea that there's a more substantial population backing them up than their might be in other districts outside the city.


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Comments [18]


GP of queens the difference is that in 2011 racism is not as rampant as it used to be (at least not in new york city), but homophobia is. and another good point somebody made, homophobia turns parents against their own children. At least during slavery families tried to stay together. and that was at the worse of times. Kids nowadays in 2011 are jumping off bridges cause their families dont accept them.
Another good point somebody made... are you fighting for the gay and lesbians in Africa... they are black.. they are being killed... no, i bet not, i bet you didnt even know about this until we mentioned it. You are nothing more than a regular ubber baptist woman, who happens to be black.... we have a name for people like you during revolutions.......collaborator.. you got yours.. screw everybody else. Stay classy queen.. or should i say.... stay sassy?

Jun. 01 2011 05:59 PM
Heywood Jablowme

There are consequences for standing in the way of equality...ask Hiram Monserrate or Bill Stachowski...Ruben Diaz is next...stand with us on the right side of history or get out of the way...we are coming for our it or not

Jun. 01 2011 11:52 AM
rachel h from upstate ny

RXN really? seems to me like your one of those holy rollers dont push religions on people!! this is america and we all have choices... you may not agree but tht doesnt make u right... does it really matter if it makes someone happy and secure in this cold cruel world why does it matter? any one reading this please take into consideration next vote that people just want to happy it our choice!!!!!!!!!!

May. 20 2011 01:35 PM
Matt S from NYC

To GP from Queens NY,

I bet that when MLK made reference in his I Have a Dream speech to the "architects of our republic...signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir," there were white people who said, "They weren't talking about you. They were opposed to you having rights."

Which would you rather believe, that the Founders were racists that justifiably opposed black civil rights, or were idealists who were misguided in their actions towards black people due to their era and upbringing?
Who would you rather be like, Rev. King or those prejudiced whites?

Just something to think about.

May. 20 2011 11:17 AM
Matt S from NYC

Dear GP from Queens NY,

I have never heard of a black child being beaten and thrown out of the house for being black. I have never heard of black people being sent to reeducation camps by people who claim to love them. I've never heard black blamed for hurricanes and dead soldiers and the assumed coming apocalypse.

It's been a long time since anyone of consequence has said black people were of the devil, but it happens to gay people daily on multiple tv channels and in churches across the country. I have seen both blacks and gays lynched and beaten. I have seen both blacks and gays bullied and tormented. The difference is that black kids go home to a family that accepts them and join friends like them. Gay kids are rarely so lucky. I have seen both denied medical care, and denied the basic respect due any human being.

I have never seen blacks told to hide who they are. Would you wear whiteface make-up if it made things easier for you, or would you find that a massive insult? We get told that daily, that we should go back in the closet, never even allow others to find out we're gay.

But then, I never really wanted to make this a competition. Because it isn't one. My struggle for rights takes nothing away from you. I support equality for all minorities. I wish you could do the same. Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King, Jr., and Harvey Milk may have been icons to different parts of the community, but they all shared in a basic ideal that one person is not better than another, that we all deserve respect.

May. 20 2011 11:10 AM

Dear GP of Queens and others,

By the way, when you talk of "my people" does that include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people of colour? This week I watched the madness in Uganda. The hatred directed against Gay Africans by their own people. Is your pain so great that you do not want to see the suffering of others? The high suicide rate of Gay youth because of the horrible messages they get from their own families that they are not lovable if they are not gay. As Aids activists once said "Silence equals Death"
We are not going to be silent anymore even if it makes some uncomfortalble. I was inspired as a child by the African American Civil Rights Movement". what I did not know then was that Black People's struggle would eventually become my struggle too. B. Rustin who worked with Martin Luther King was a Gay man who at the time had to keep his sexuality a secret; he is one of my hero's and he is "My Poeple".

May. 18 2011 10:51 AM

Dear GP Queens and others who get insulted when Gay is considered a civil rights issue.

Watch how a person who is known to be gay or suspected of being gay is treated!
We are shunned, taunted, beaten and sometimes killed for being gay. Look at what many countries do to Gay people. My generation learned to keep our mouths shut so that we would not be discriminated against or worse beaten and killed. Again the ones who could not hide it, they were verbally abused, beaten and sometimes killed.
Sorry, hate is hate and descrimination is discrimination. Beating and killing are beating and killing whether it is because of sexual orientation, colour, religion or no religion, nationality etc!

May. 18 2011 10:29 AM

i think ruben diaz is gay or something why is he actin like that

May. 18 2011 12:45 AM
GP from Queens NY

For example, on the LGBTNation website, MLK, Jr's niece is clear on the position. How do you use the sermons and speeches of an African American Baptist Minister as a foundation of your fight? Please read the following link:

I will die for the right for anyone to fight the good fight of a cause that they believe in. What I won't support is ANYONE using the struggle of my people as a comparison when there isn't one!! Now moving forward, respect our struggle!!

May. 16 2011 02:30 PM
GP from Queens NY

As an African Amercian woman, O am insulted by the comparison of gay-marriage to the civil rights movement or the plight of my people here in America. I have never heard of boats of gay people being brought from their land, enslaved and stripped of their culture. I have never seen gay and straight bathrooms, water fountains, schools, churches, stores etc. I have never seen a gay person ordered to sit in the back of a bus. I have never seen a gay person murdered for learning how to read - just to name a few! Fpr all of you who are fighting this fight - more power to you, but please stop insulting the plight of my people while doing so. Additionally, please stop using sermons of an African American Baptist Minister, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to evoke emotion from my people, when his doctrine didn't co-sign homosexuality. It is more than insulting!!!

May. 16 2011 02:14 PM
RXN from Queens

Marriage is between a man and a woman because it's based on procreation. Only a man and a woman can "create" a child. I don't think the State should redefine this institution to be based on some warm fuzzy feeling of "love" between two (or more?!) people. Keep it linked to procreation. The State exists to support the natural-based family unit.

May. 16 2011 09:29 AM
RXN from Queens

Marriage is between a man and a woman because it's based on procreation. Only a man and a woman can "create" a child. I don't think the State should redefine this institution to be based on some warm fuzzy feeling of "love" between two (or more?!) people. Keep it linked to procreation. The State exists to support the natural-based family unit.

May. 16 2011 09:24 AM
RXN from Queens

Marriage is between a man and a woman because it's based on procreation. Only a man and a woman can "create" a child. I don't think the State should redefine this institution to be based on some warm fuzzy feeling of "love" between two (or more?!) people. Keep it linked to procreation. The State exists to support the natural-based family unit.

May. 16 2011 09:23 AM
John Bartlett from New York, NY

At least we know who NOT to vote for in the next election. Just like those opposed to integration in the early 1960s, these people will go down in shame.

May. 10 2011 10:24 AM
TK from Long Island

It's truly a shame to see a majority voting on the rights of an oppressed minority. If women were the majority, they would have had their rights ages ago. If blacks were the majority, we never would have had a civil rights movement. And now we see the LGBT community. History will repeat itself, and this oppressed group will eventually get the rights they deserve. It's too bad that it will be a long uphill battle, but then again it always is.

May. 09 2011 11:59 PM
Stephanie K from Brooklyn

I may not understand fully other cultures/communities, however each are entitled to equal right and legal protections. We are all brothers and sisters!

May. 09 2011 11:38 PM
henry kane from brooklyn public library

I really think that if you want to be married and be recognized you have torealize that you are a minority, and that people will always be critical of you and your lifestyle. I am in favor of anyone getting married but you have to admit it will take a long time and many people will never change their minds and never accept your union be it legal or otherwise.

May. 09 2011 11:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Ruben Diaz may be the staunchest anti-gay one of all but at least he has an opinion.

The others are just pathetic

May. 09 2011 10:28 AM

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