Empire State Pride Agenda Chief Ross Levi: Republican Control Of Senate Is Good For Gays. HUH?

Groups like Tim Gill’s Fight Back New York might’ve helped oust a number of elected homophobes from the New York State Senate, but that doesn’t mean the work there is done. With the GOP retaking control of the chamber in January after a brief Democratic stint, a successful same-sex marriage vote is still the ultimate goal. And to have a successful vote there must be, well, a vote in the first place. Which is exactly what New York’s gay elite are working on.

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, who took over when Alan van Capelle packed his bags, is ever the optimist — as all institutional gay activists are. (What lost hope?) He’s got some talking points for you to look at to convince you why 2011 is the year for New York’s marriage fight, but it boils down to this: Even with Republicans holding a 32-30 majority, Ross “believe[s] there is a clear and credible path to victory on LGBT issues this session.” Other folks, like sitting lawmakers, are justifiably more skeptical.

Somehow, with the GOP now in control, “we are sitting here today stronger, in stronger position, after the election than we were before,” insists Levi.

It comes down to numbers. Come January, there will be 14 new faces in the State Senate compared to a year ago, and advocates say they now have two more “yes” votes than before. That’s because even though three pro-gay marriage Democrats were ousted by Republicans, five “no” votes will flip to “yes” votes, including Queens Republican Frank Padavan and Buffalo Democrat William Stachowski. Gay rights advocates campaigned against both. “That I believe sends a very strong message to everybody in Albany, where they have to be thinking about whether they want the strength of the LGBT community turning to them in a negative way,” Levi said.

So having the GOP running the chamber is better for the ‘mos than Democrats having the majority? I was not aware that, in the march for LGBT equality, the Empire State Pride Agenda has adopted the thinking of the Log Cabin Republicans.

[photo via Gay City News]

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  • Cam

    The issue was also, Dem Senator Reuban Diaz was a big factor and the Dem leadership wouldn’t bring up the issue for a vote. The GOP leadership last year promised that if they won they would bring the issue up for a vote. I don’t think they thought so many anti-gay folks would lose, but they are holding them to that promise.

    Could be some good news, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

  • Andrew

    As a New Yorker, I really do hope 2011 is the year. But we lost 38-24 in the Senate last time around. Doesn’t 3 out 5 in just mean we’ll loose 36-26? Maybe we can change a few minds but I don’t know if we can get a majority…

  • Andrew

    @Above; Although I’ve also heard that the last vote was a Republican whip vote as opposed to a vote of conscience. So perhaps that would change the math.

  • robert in nyc

    I’ll hold my breath but my gut feeling says “no”. Republicans cater to the religious bigots first, so they’re not going to upset them when it comes down to a vote. Expect some more interference from the archdiocese of New York just as it did in the Maine defeat last year.

  • ChiGuy76

    Maybe this is a good sign after all. Remember most Republicans from Blue states are not really “Republican.” Many are more “anti-Democrat” and “anti-Democratic establishment” than “pro-Christianist/Tea Party Republican.” Also, many Blue State Republicans tend to be much more socially liberal than their Red State counterparts. So it is possible that with more socially liberal Republicans in the NY Senate, the environment might change for the better in regards to marriage equality in the Empire State. Being from Chicago in the very Blue State of Illinois, I’ve seen this firsthand. We just got Civil Unions passed and it was accomplished with the support of several Republican Assemblymen/women and State Senators. My own Republican State Representative voted in favor of the Civil Unions Bill and next year it will be signed into law by our governor.

  • gregger

    When the “gang of four” screwed up the Senate and kept the state roiling in mud, the Rethuglican party in NY kept attempting to romance all of us gays. They did jack shit, just as they had done when the Republitards were in legitimate control of the NYS Senate. The NYS Senate needs to be cleaned out and remove all the people that were in collusion over the Senate hijacking this past year. While they’re at it, they need to re-imburse the taxpayers for all the moneys wasted during that period.

  • Andrew

    @gregger: Jack shit? I’m a pretty far left Democrat but you clearly don’t know much about NY politics. BOTH our state level ENDA and hate crime bills were passed under a Republican Senate and a Republican governor.

  • Brutus

    This is precisely what everyone here has been agitating for. Campaign in the primaries against the few Democrats who won’t support our rights, and it scares them into changing their votes. We ARE in a better position now–not BECAUSE the GOP now has the Senate back, but because we have more votes. Nothing in the above excerpt shows that Levi is saying we’re better off BECAUSE the Senate is Republican again, so cut it out with the false equivalency to the Log Cabin Republicans. It’s also the job of activist organizations to make it look like things are happening and there’s momentum behind the movement, so of course they always make optimistic statements.

    Queerty = bitter, bitter, bitter.

  • GayGOP

    I am a New York Republican, and the above comments about Blue State Republicans are largely true. Gay rights get more advancement here with GOP assistance and GOP running at least one part of Government. Gov. Pataki, one of GWB’s Short-List VP Candidates, signed several pro-gay bills into law. For all their vocal support, Governors Spitzer, and Paterson did not.

    I think that the GOP will have a chance at pushing through gay marriage in NYS.

    Our Republicans, up here, would largely be somewhat left-wing Democrats in red states.

  • Jim

    Gay marriage will not save the gay community – it will destroy it. Joining the military who kill people across the globe should not be a goal.

    When did the gay community decide to ‘join in’ rather than make their own incredible place to exist? Sad. That an issue that is routed in privilege, misogyny, racism, and CLASSISM is the dominant issue in the gay community.

    I wonder who spear headed this effort? HRC? A bunch of white, wealthy gay guys? Hm…maybe the A-list from logo?

    Wake up people.

  • Jeffree

    Gee, kind of a gloomy Gus aren’t ya?
    Newsflash: the lgb communites in European countries who’ve got the right to get married and serve openly in the military, they’re doing just fine, thank you.

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