finger pointing

And Now Sen. Tom Duane Receives the Blame for NY’s Failed Marriage Vote


State Sen. Tom Duane was the man who took it upon himself to bring marriage equality to the Empire State. Whether you want to say “he failed” or “the effort failed” is up to you. But now that gay New Yorkers remain without their marriage rights, the blame game is being played, and Duane drew the short stick.

Aside from pointing fingers at State Senate Republicans — all of whom voted “no” — it’s Duane’s campaigning to drum up support for the marriage bill that’s being fingered as a failure. “It didn’t help that the Democrats responsible for corralling the votes were less than suited to the job,” opines Jacob Gershman. “Senator Tom Duane of Chelsea is the gray-haired lion of the local gay rights community. But as his meandering, choked speech on the floor suggested, his appeals to his resistant colleagues were emotional, and not aimed at their colder sense of prudence.” And his allies weren’t much better: “The Senate leader, John Sampson, who endorsed the legislation only when he assumed his leadership role this year, has proven to be a skilled conciliator but not an enforcer. He and his aides were seen scrambling for votes minutes before the count. Governor Paterson is in such a weak position now that he’d have better luck herding cats than getting the Democrats to head in one direction or another. And Pat Lynch, the star Albany lobbyist for the bill, found her reach more limited in the Senate than it was in the Assembly.”

That Sen. Duane is an emotional politician isn’t news. Neither is it news that Daune believed he had the votes to shore up support. But was the senator’s uh, very angry delivery at last night’s postmortem rally in New York City (see below video) evidence of his post-vote furor, or his ineffective means of creating support from his colleagues before everyone cast their votes?

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  • terrwill

    Face it the measure was doomed. After what happened in
    NY #23 we will never get a single repugnatican to vote
    yea on the Gays getting married. They all got their marching
    orderd from Michael Long who threatened to put a conserative
    candidate on the ballot in every race where a repugnantican
    voted yes ran. They all ran scared shitless that the
    conserative candidate would split the vote with them and
    thus give the race to the democratic candidate. As long as
    we need repugnatican votes it will never pass. The only win
    we can possibly savage is to try a measure defined as civil
    unions eliminating the word “marriage” from it…Otherwise
    stick a fork well into the measure it is sadly well done………..

  • Nelson G

    Perhaps QUEERTY can clarify. What I’m interpreting is that from the day the marriage equality bill was announced by the Governor to the three votes that took place in the Assembly to the Senate coup – which, by the way, Pedro Espada blamed the gays for, almost – to Wednesday, there was no one ensuring a committed vote on marriage equality until the day of?

    If that’s the case, the criticisms being expressed toward Senator Duane are valid. Unless someone tells me otherwise, all I’m seeing in this video is someone talking loud, feigning victimhood and passing the buck.

  • T

    Leave senator Duane alone… he and Danny O’Donnell both did what they could to get this legislation through the legislature, I don’t think there is anymore that could have been done… he talked, he shared, he finagled … it boils down to the fact that some of his colleagues are just heartless cowards that decided to go along with the clone patrol that is the republican party of the NY State Senate. To cast blame on one person doesn’t get us anywhere except where NOM wants us to be… in road fighting and blame gaming.

  • James

    Mmmmmmm. Blaming this on Duane strikes me as a stretch. Funny people want to put the blame on him but are mum about the Dems who voted against marriage rights.

  • Nelson G

    Is it a stretch, James? Tom Duane has been saying for months he had the votes for gay marriage. He pushed that message out thru his favorite bloggers. He gave people a false sense of hope that despite the coup and all the other bullshit that was taking place during the Senate that a bill would pass.

    It did not. He essentially lied. Call it a white lie, put sprinkles on it, call it an error, whatever, it’s a still a lie.

    On that note, I agree with you the focus should be toward those Dems who voted No. For example, Addabbo appeared on The Brian Lehrer Show this morning and offered a bunch of half assed excuses why he voted no.

  • Herbert Wassinger

    Senator Duane did his best. What more can anyone ask for. He is to be thanked. Did you all not go to kindergarten and learn how to say please and thank you? :-)

    Thank you Tom Duane.

  • timmmeeeyyy

    It is not Duane’s fault that the NY Democratic party is in shambles and lacks leadership. This became quite apparent with the Senate coupe that took place earlier this year, and with the budget negotiations going on now. The bill would have never happened in the Senate if it weren’t for Duane’s leadership. Even though the bill failed we are still better off. Our elected officials are finally on record as for or against, so we can work to change their minds or change their employer.

  • terrwill

    Please read my post #1. People can scapegoat anyone
    they want to chose to do so… Here is the sad, stark,
    reality that we need to realize:

    As long as we need even ONE single solitary
    repugnatican vote this thing will NEVER,EVER pass.
    End of story, say thank you and good night irene.

  • HellIsWaiting

    Eternal damnation, hell fire. Maggie Gallagher and her ilk will know the warm pits of hell – as well as those who seek nothing less than full equality under the law. Those pushing for civil unions, and less, are pursing nothing more than a fool’s errand. Because those who oppose equality under the law, such as Satan’s spawn Maggie Gallagher and the NOM, will, and have, painted any pursuit of our struggle for equal rights as an assault on “marriage.” They seek to destroy us – no matter what. If that’s how they’re going to play the game in this manner – we need to play to win, keep our eyes on the prize, and not coddle our enemies by accepting anything less than full equality under the law. There is no solace for second place (civil unions). No second best. This has NOTHING to do about religion. And NOTHING to do about “The Word” marriage. It has EVERYTHING to do with the pursuit of equal access to a SINGLE SYSTEM of rights and responsibilities that just happens to be universally known and accepted as civil marriage. If that system were known as something else, and not marriage, it would be about the pursuit of “something else.” Parallel systems (civil unions) are now proven, separate, and unequal failures. States that had them, have abandoned them. Plain and simple. Grace Be To God that the United States Supreme Court will one day deliver us from this oppression and declare that Loving v. Virginia applies to all marriages in the United States of America, that the right to enter into contract, by way of civil marriage, cannot be abridged. We will probably endure a Dred Scott Decision with the current Court. Hell will be their destiny. But in 50 to 100 years… those who come after us (a new Court, a new Country), after we are dead and gone… will ask: why the hell did anybody ever believe in this kind of discrimination? And why the hell did anybody ever believe that a compromise (“civil unions”) was acceptable, when there is no such thing as a comprise when it comes to civil rights? NY has proven to be a fucking joke. Perhaps NJ can get it right. All that is required is a simple update to a civil marriage license form: Line 1: wife/husband/spouse, Line 2: wife/husband/spouse. Simply circle what is appropriate for your relationship. Everyone can be accommodated: the traditional, “non-traditional,” men, women, trans, str-hates, and gays. How fucking hard can that be? Never give up.

  • James


    He lied? Really? Maybe he simply said what he honestly thought was true. Here is what I don’t understand. People screamed for a vote. We got the vote and a few folk who agreed to vote yes, turned chicken. Now we want to jump on the guy who carried the water and got us the vote.

    Duane is no god, but wow. If we are going to get all catty on him post defeat, then we, as “a community”, are politically immature (IMHO).

  • HellIsWaiting

    Correction: …Eternal damnation, hell fire. Maggie Gallagher and her ilk will know the warm pits of hell – as well as those who seek SOMETHING less than full equality under the law…

  • AndrewW

    Gov. David Paterson said Thursday that he would not re-introduce a same-sex marriage bill in the state Senate until it’s clear there’s ”substantial change in the position of the legislators.“

    Or a substantial change in legislators.

  • HellIsWaiting

    You want to blame someone… blame yourself. Did you call your representative? Did you go to Albany and demand to be heard? In person? The time to protest and get angry was BEFORE the vote. Protesting in NYC after the fact is a ridiculous waste of time.

    Thank God for Tom Duane.

  • timmmeeeyyy

    And BTW, the most blame lies at the feet of Senate Republicans (take not Log Cabinists – these are the people you support). I’m saddened that not even one moderate republican voted his conscience or the will of his district.

  • Robert, NYC

    Well, why on earth did Duane really believe that the votes were there when they weren’t? I can’t believe that the 8 bigots who voted our rights away had suddenly had an epiphany. This doesn’t make sense at all. Take Bloomberg for instance who is the largest financial supporter of the GOP in our state, he conceded back in October that chances of getting two or three republicans on board were not likely to occur as he had thought. If that’s not a cue for Duane, I don’t know what is. A leopard never changes its spots, so why on earth wasn’t he aware that the infamous 8 would have voted against their beliefs? Paterson knew there weren’t enough votes but carried out Duane’s request for a vote.

    I doubt if we’ll ever get it passed through the legislature after November 2010 because I’m sure democrats will lose a few more seats and then there’s the governor’s race that could very easily see Lazio or Giuliani occupying that office.

    I think it has to be addressed by the Court of Appeals that previously decided that marriage is NOT a right in our state re Hernandez v. Robles and that marriage should be left to the legislature. Marriage by the way is not mentioned in the constitution either. If marriage is therefore considered a state privilege by virtue of the issuance of a marriage license that extends to only straights, then that is what needs to be addressed using the equal protection clause in the 14th amendment of the constitution.

    Emphasis must also be placed on the loss of financial revenue that other states will reap from gay New Yorkers going there to marry and spend their money at a time when our state is in dire financial straits and the impact this will have on local business. Its not as important but does have some relevance to the issue.

  • Mike

    There is a silver lining to the vote — we now know who our enemies are (aside from the Republicans) and we can focus our efforts and money on getting those eight homophobes defeated.

  • naghanenu

    Im going to say that i am annoyed that anyone would blam Tom. I do not think he is a stupid man thus i do not believe he would have opened his mouth to say something that he did not believe was solidly true. I mean he told everyone that it was possible. Why would he as a political figure do that if it was not? I feel sad that he lost this but i trust his devotion will reap rewards.

    I also say that marriage is not a right. It isnt. You dont have to get married, it is not one of those things that a human is entitled to. It just happens when two parties agree to enter a marriage contract. it can be emotional, financial or whatever. It has benefits and state affords protections to all parties involved but it is not a right.

    I feel gays should be allowed to officalise their relationships if they wish to for the protections and benefits it gives. But to be honest other than for the sake of equality, why is marriage a right? Its not as if the state is saying you cannot be with whom you wish to be with or as if they are blocking you from having a loving and devoted life together. They are just placing traditional marriage above yours…which is very wrong and should be fought against.

    But really someone should explain to me why and how is marriage a right?

  • terrwill

    Boys and Girls!! Wise the hell up!! We don’t have the clout! the politiciians take us for granted because we are not a cohesive voting block. The rightwing-nutbag lunatics can get 1500 lemmings to send out a mass email in ten minutes to protest Adam Lamberts crotch rubbing. I am sure some of these cowards gave Tom Duane lip service (no pun intended) and gave him some kind of indication they would vote yea. The only tangible asset Gays can use as leverage is economic power. As persons in the upper levels of the economic scale according to most every indicator if the Gays could somehow gather enough cohesiveness to actually produce a show of stregnth politicians might pay some heed. As is now forget about EVER seeing Gay marriage approved in NYS and brace yourselves for more defeats. Again if ONE SINGLE repugnatican vote is needed the measure will never pass…………….

  • RichardR

    #17, the United States Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia said marriage is a “right.”

  • Jo

    Let’s not eat our own. Duane did what he could for same sex marriage.

  • Robert, NYC

    RichardR, yes, but the NYS Court of Appeals ruled differently. We have to know exactly what it views marriage as and go from there. The 14th amendment of the constitution would apply either way.

    Naghanenu, not its not a right as far the constitution goes and if it were, it would have to be amended to be read as gender neutral. That of course will never happen.

  • naghanenu

    RichardR : Okay? I dont agree. Marriage is so not a right. To love you want to is and makes sense.

  • naghanenu

    RichardR : Okay? I dont agree. Marriage is so not a right. To freedom to whom you love is and makes sense.

    Is that really the reason?? Really??

  • HellIsWaiting

    Naghanenu: You don’t have to agree, but Thank God the US Supreme Court has established the Right to Marry as a fundamental right, effective 1967. Anyone who does not know this basic fact regarding civil marriage law and rights, in this country, has no business even discussing marriage for same-gender couples. By your logic, you can claim the Earth is flat… and believe that all you want… but it will never change the fact that the Earth is actually round. Get back with us when your freedom to bury the one you freely love is denied. Plus over 1,000 other rights and responsibilities of a civil partnership, known in this country as civil marriage. You might also want to actually read the Court’s 1967 Loving Decision.

  • CHIP1218

    I have said this for months on Queerty, if the Empire State Pride Agenda and other marriage equality lobbyist groups sat down with moderate Republicans and offered the 500k in campaign contributions that NOM threatened to give their competitors in a primary, promised FULL backing for re-election no matter who the Democrats got to run against them, and offered their men on the campaign trail to battle the conservatives, this could have worked. My State Senator only voted no because the few thousand Conservative Party votes he gets is the difference between being elected and being voted out of office. The State Senate is the most selfish group of individuals we have ever seen, look at the coup for proof of this, this was all about self-preservation.

  • Schteve

    Duane’s fault it lost? No. But he is still a liar nonetheless. He said the support was there when there were numerous known Democrats who would vote against it. Therefore, the only way he could claim support is if he knew Republicans who were going to vote for it.

    And @naghanenu, you really don’t know what you’re talking about if you don’t think it is a right. Every court ever has disagreed with you there. What exactly that right to marriage is (ie, whether it is the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, or rather the right to marry anyone) is the only thing that gets discussed. But marriage itself is a right by any standard.

  • politicalhacknyc

    Duane had the votes and then some lied bc they’re cowards and then it was a house of cards after that. This was the last shot we had to getting a vote before 2011, and now we got it and we know who needs primaries. Duane did what we asked him – do we wish that whoever he said he had actually voted yes? of course. but just looking at his face on tv the day when it was voted down tells me he didn’t lie and i’m not sure anyone else could have gotten the dems to bring it to the floor. thank you tom duane.

  • Youngmaid

    I don’t think Tom Duane is to blame for this. He actually believed he had enough votes for this bill to pass. He did what he had to do. In fact, I feel bad for the guy, he has been stepped on and lied to by other senators.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think Duane has much of a political future in the NY Senate and he knows it. I don’t see Duane being taken seriously, nonetheless having any clout to get more senators to vote YES on a possible re-vote of the Gay marriage bill, or even getting GENDA passed. After this Humiliation, I sense that Duane does not want to be in Albany anymore. The only advantage Duane has is to bring a couple of senators down with him, by exposing these cowards.

    I wish Duane had list the names of senators that had promised him that they were going to vote YES, and then betrayed him. It would be great that the LGBT organizations have a REAL thorough “Political Death Wish List” where not only we have the eight Democratic traitors who voted NO, but a list of senators (Republican & Democrat) that promised YES, then voted NO. There should be consistent protests against these senators. These Senators should be heckled daily and have frequent demonstrations in front of their district offices.

    This “Political Death Wish List” can be an indication of which Senator is capable of keeping their word or not. This list should be publicly posted online and elsewhere. Perhaps it might be a mean witch hunt, but LGBT’s in NY need to be aggressive and vigilant. At the same time, we should commend the Senators who voted Yes, particularly Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson for her moving speech and true leadership.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)


    Don’t we remember Milk?

    When that Dan guy thought he was going to get Milk’s vote? This isn’t rocket science and neither is Queerty.

    It’s a game. A game.

    The only issue is that Duane believed them and I wonder why? All politicians are liars after their own back-except for a few but the one’s who said no, how is this a surprise??

    Also, the NY mayor Bloomberg is SERIOUSLY homophobic, do you think he wouldn’t have put words on any Repubs voting?

    Furthermore, ‘Brighstars’, how did a billionaire become Mayor of NY?

    Hmmm…..lemme think…yeah…he’s a Jew, so of course he was gonna get a shoe in NY but PLEASE.

  • TN

    Don’t blame him, he did the best he could. We just got to get rid of a few fake democrats and replace our lame-duck governor who is a joke in NY.

  • tjr101

    Blaming Tom Duane is simply ridiculous and immature. The guy worked his butt off (no pun) to get the votes. Some of us must realize that no matter how much lobbying and reasoning you do with people some are rigid in their beliefs. There is no reasoning with an individual who believes gay marriage is an abomination.

    Some of those 8 Democrats promised him they would vote for the bill lying to his face. That’s politics. And many of those Dems voting No come from constituencies in which the majority would be against the bill.

    Some of you wanted this vote (even though it was sure to fail) and now you’re blaming Tom Duane who lobbied for it to get to the floor. IMMATURE!

  • MauraHennessey

    Not all of us were “screaming for a vote.” Some of us thought that it was futile and in the end harmful as it handed another victory to NOM, an organisation whose actual ultimate goal is re-criminalisation.

    Diaz was going to take at least 3-4 votes with him to the “No” side. He took even more. We could not win, it was as foreordained as if it had been set into stone.

  • CHIP1218

    Guys, get some facts straight. Bloomberg is not homophobic, if he is, he’s the most pro-gay rights homophobe to sit in office. The mayor is constantly working with the LGBT community in NYC and practically been grooming Lesbian City Council Speaker Quinn to be his political heir. Also, Duanne never had the votes to make this happen. He might have thought he did, but 32 Senators never promised to vote YES. This has been told to me by 3 State Senators aides, 2 Democrats, and 1 Republican. I knew this months ago. If you go through the postings here since this summer (I was just CHIP until I saw someone posting under my name on other topics) the most votes this equality bill ever had was 27, and that was counting the Democrats who wouldn’t publicly say they were voting YES or NO. Sen. Duanne, ESPA, and other lobbyists could only hope for getting a vote on the bill, not it’s passing. IF they thought any different, they really don’t know how to do their jobs. When you hold an Equality Lobbying Day in Albany and the State Senator runs away from his office just before your planned meeting, or suddenly is busy, or slips out from a side door from his personal office – that’s a given NO vote!!!

  • Robert, NYC

    Chip, you’re absolutely right about that. Malcom Smith told Duane weeks ago, the vote were definitely not there. So I don’t know where Duane got off thinking it was otherwise. At least we now know who the enemies are.

    Bloomberg is a staunch support of LGBT people. He’s outspokenon marriage equality, one of the first in our state. Even he thought he could get two or three moderate republicans on board but this past October he realized it wasn’t going to happen, so how on earth could Duane think that there were enough votes.

    As I said in a previous post, I don’t think going through the legislature will do that much good, depending on who among the 8 remain in office after November 2010 or who occupies the governor’s office. It needs to be handed back to the Court of Appeals to revisit marriage equality, since the legisature can’t seem to provide a positive vote. Since the court ruled that its not a right in our state, we have to find out exactly what its definition is if any and go from there using the 14th amendment citing equal protection for minorities.

  • jim

    @Nelson G: is it so hard for you folks to understand that society does not agree with you?

Comments are closed.