All Eyes On Paterson

patersonhands.jpg
New New York Governor David Paterson probably can’t see straight right now. Well, actually, he barely see at all.

If he could, however, we’re sure Paterson would be blown away by the outpouring of gay support. It’s been a mere few hours since Paterson ascended and a number of New York’s lavender leaders are extending their hopeful congratulations.

H. Alexander Robinson of the National Black Justice Coalition lauded Paterson’s sudden rise:

David Paterson is known across Albany as a consensus builder and is highly respected on both sides of the aisle. He has also demonstrated his commitment to full equality for all Americans.

NBJC looks forward to working with Governor Patterson on a myriad of issues affecting our New York State constituents.

Alan Van Capelle of the Empire State Pride Agenda also highlighted Paterson’s fight for equality, particularly Paterson’s pro-gay Senatorial past.

Said Van Capelle:

He has been a strong and consistent friend of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community ever since he was elected to public office in 1985. He worked hard as a State Senator to help pass hate crimes legislation in 2000 and, in his first weeks as Senate Minority Leader, worked to make sure that there were enough Democratic votes to pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in 2002.

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate got her hands on a number of prominent New York queers, including transactivist Melissa Sklarz, who appreciates the politician’s universally inclusive vision: “The agenda is a very large, complicated agenda for any governor in Albany, but David Paterson would find room for transgender issues.”

It’s apparent that the gays appreciate Paterson, but does that mean he’ll be effective? Who knows? Sure, the Democrats dominate the House, but not all the Democrats support gay marriage. The Senate, meanwhile, remains staunchly anti-gay nuptial, but Paterson’s long been aware of this ideological blackhole. As he told NY Blade last January,

It is my belief that same-sex marriage cannot pass while Republicans are running the state Senate. They will probably take that quote and use it in some of their campaigns, but I am speaking truth to power and hoping that citizens are going to get it.

Paterson has, however, exhibited a remarkably bipartisan attitude, unlike his predecessor, who made it his mission to destroy his opponents, such as Senate Majority leader Joe Bruno.

Bruno and Spitzer hated one another like school yard bitches. You may expect Paterson to have some ill will toward his new political partner, but but the boys have a convivial past:

I’ll even go as far as to say, a member of my family was in an accident a few weeks ago and Bruno sent him a plant when he heard about it. But as much as our friendship – we’d collaborated on a number of issues; he made me the first person who was ever appointed to a Senate task force who was from another party; he appointed me to his health care task force. So as much as we, as far as we went in terms of collaboration, I know that when he heard Eliot Spitzer picked me to become lieutenant governor, that they were cracking Champagne in his office. He always said “Congratulations.

Such intimacy may seem like good news for the gays, but Bruno’s not keen on gay marriage and his ideological peers control the Senate. That’s hardly the most important issue, though. Paterson’s better off taking baby steps.

Gay New Yorkers are still a long way from victory on the gay marriage issue, so it’s best to keep a level head. The Empire State will not suddenly become some homo utopia, but Paterson’s leadership and popularity make him more persuasive than Spitzer the steamroller. And that can only get us back on track.