Volume 20, Number 1 | May 18 - 24, 2007


The Albany fight for gay marriage

“Promise made, promise kept” is the pithy comment State Senator Tom Duane made when Governor Eliot Spitzer introduced his bill to enact marriage equality for same-sex couples a few weeks ago.
And now with marriage proponents building impressive legislative support in Albany, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the bill is likely to be discussed this session in the Democratic caucus, a clear signal that a floor vote and Assembly passage is close. Silver is still withholding his personal position on marriage equality, but his willingness to consider a floor vote is an important step. Bills with strong legislative support often die on the vine in Albany if the legislative leaders oppose them. We hope Silver ends up supporting the bill, but he is to be commended for working with the governor and his caucus on this one.

Assembly passage will move the fight to the Republican-controlled State Senate. The votes are not yet there in the Senate but it should only be a matter of time. Democrat Craig Johnson won a Republican Senate seat on Long Island in a special election this year in which opponents tried to use his support for same sex marriage against him.

The public has moved so far, so quickly on this issue that we envision a day not that far off when gay marriage will not only be legal in New York, but politicians will be embarrassed to discuss their previous opposition, much like it’s difficult to find people still in favor of racial segregation in the public schools. We count on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to fulfill the pledge he made in an interview with Downtown Express late in 2005: to testify personally in support of gay marriage legislation in Albany. He may be called on to fulfill that pledge soon.

Steps to folly

While some aides to Gov. Eliot Spitzer dither like Hamlet over the fate of the “Survivors’ Stairway,” the governor’s people at the Port Authority are making great progress at the World Trade Center site. Two things were clear from our visit to the site last week — construction is proceeding rapidly and the stairway is in the way. If it’s not yet slowing down the work, that will happen very soon.

Spitzer is still considering spending $2 million to move this misleading W.T.C. remnant back and forth. Although survivors escaping the W.T.C. in 2001 did in fact run down the stairway, the damage to the stairs was done in the months that followed the attack. As we pointed out before, keeping this humongous, 175-ton piece intact would be deception, not preservation, because too many W.T.C. visitors would believe the stairs were damaged by falling Twin Tower debris. Pieces of the stairs should be on display in the memorial museum and incorporated in the site’s Tower 2.

This week we hear the state agency that is supposed to promote economic development is not backing down from its idea to dump the stairs on Battery Park City’s Site 2B, where a school is needed to sustain the residential growth and economy of Lower Manhattan. The Empire State Development Corp. claims this will not interfere with school plans. Even if that hard-to-swallow pill were true, the plan would still be a waste of money.

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