The State Senate voted no on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage on Wednesday, following an emotional debate that touched on civil rights, family values, and American history.
The fact that the senate voted down this bill means that Governor David A. Paterson has failed again, for the year at least. The optimism of gay rights activists, who are facing a lot of setbacks in key states, has been somewhat slashed.
The bill was defeated by a not-so-close margin, 38 to 24. Although the Democrats have a majority, they didn’t have enough votes to be able to pass the bill without any kind of Republican support, and not a single Republican senator voted for the measure. Also, several key Democrats who were considered swing votes, also opposed the bill.
Mr. Paterson made an unusual trip to the Senate floor minutes after the last vote was cast, saying, “These victories come and so do the losses, but you keep on trying.”
The Roman Catholic bishops who have actively lobbied against the bill said they were pleased with the way the Senate voted today.
“While the Catholic Church rejects unjust discrimination against homosexual men and women, there is no question that marriage by its nature is the union of one man and one woman,” Richard E. Barnes, the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, said in a statement. “Advocates for same-sex marriage have attempted to portray their cause as inevitable. However, it has become clear that Americans continue to understand marriage the way it has always been understood, and New York is not different in that regard. This is a victory for the basic building block of our society.”
In California, the vote against gay marriage was blamed on a racial/religious divide, but not in New York. Nine of the Senate’s 11 black members voted in support of same-sex marriage.
“When I walk through these doors, my Bible stays out,” said Senator Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat who compared the law preventing same-sex marriage with laws that kept blacks and whites from marrying. “I believe there are certain moments here where we can benchmark our lives by the votes we took.”