Currying Favor

Can Bloomberg Get 6 Republican Votes for New York’s Gay Marriage?


Just because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is for same-sex marriage doesn’t mean the state’s largest GLBT organization is going to hand him its endorsement. The Empire State Pride Agenda is withholding support for the Republican-but-really-independent mayor, who’s going for his finagled third term, and plan to back a candidate who offers “deliverables.” Might those deliverables come in the form of getting the New York State Senate to push through gay marriage?

When Bloomberg was running in 2005, ESPA turned the other cheek and endorsed opponent Fernando Ferrer. Ferrer lost. But things could go his way this time around, if the circumstances are right.

“It’s no longer enough for anybody who wants our endorsement to say you support our agenda,” says ESPA director Alan Van Capelle. “You need to be able to articulate the set of deliverables you’ve done for our community and how you’ve helped us move the ball up the field.”

And how might Bloomberg do it? By getting the New York Senate, which the NYDN‘s Elizabeth Benjamin says is as few as six votes short of passing a marriage equality bill, to actually get the job done.

The mayor hit the podium alongside David Paterson in announcing the governor’s top-down marriage bill. But even that’s not enough to score with institutional gays, which explains why Bloomberg, according to a campaign aide, plans to “influence” Senate Republicans to get on board with Paterson’s push.

If Bloomberg succeeds, we won’t even need to get Sen. Ruben Diaz, the bigoted Pentacostal pastor from the Bronx (who deserves much of the blame for Democrats refusing to vote on gay marriage) to vote with us: His Republican peers will be all the progressive votes we need.

Mission: Impossible? Maybe. Bloomberg’s camp could be running its mouth about convincing Republican senators just to pay lip service to the cause, even if the mayor’s office thought it was unlikely they would come around to his side. (Plenty of Albany politicos think he’s without hope.) Then again, Bloomberg is on the Republican ticket, his popularity numbers are pretty striking, and while he’s really the guy who needs to show deference to the state’s senators (and not the other way around), there are political points to rack up by aligning yourself with NYC’s mayor.

Then again, Bloomberg is the same mayor who, in 2005, appealed the New York’s State Supreme Court decision, which overturned the state law banning same-sex marriage on constitutional grounds. That’s a lot of ground to make up to get anyone to believe you really are for equal rights.

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