As advocates lobby the New York state Senate to enact historic marriage equality legislation before the legislative session comes to an end on June 20, Equality Matters’ Carlos Maza has some encouraging research for the seven or so on-the-fence Republicans who fear that a vote for same-sex-marriage would jeopardize their seats: “history shows that New York Republicans who support marriage equality have an easy time winning reelection, even in heavily conservative districts”:
Since 2007, four other Republican assembly members have broken ranks and voted in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Every single one of them lost the supposedly invaluable endorsement of the Conservative Party as a result. And every single one has won reelection, typically without even having to face a primary challenger. [...]
Pro-equality Republicans might also find themselves having an easier time in their general elections in 2012. A June 2 Quinnipiac University poll found that nearly 60 percent of New Yorkers support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, including 58 percent of independent voters. Quinnipiac’s results confirm the findings of two other polls conducted in 2011 which also found majority support for marriage equality in New York State.
Those numbers represent a dramatic shift in public opinion. When the New York Senate defeated a marriage equality bill in 2009, a bare majority of voters were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The near ten-point increase in public support in just two years demonstrates the rapid pace at which voters are evolving on the issue of gay and lesbian equality.
More importantly, it highlights the risk that many Republicans face by refusing to move forward on marriage. Politicians who drag their feet on marriage equality now will find themselves in increasingly uncomfortable positions in the future.
Meanwhile, today’s New York Post reports that “seven or more Senate Republicans have signaled Gov. Cuomo that they’re ready to legalize same-sex marriage, more than enough to put the controversial and historic measure over the top this week.” “Influences contributing to the changes of heart are secret Republican polls showing majority support for gay marriage in key swing districts and the strong possibility that the GOP could lose control of the Senate next year to Democrats campaigning on the issue,” sources told the Post.
YNN is reporting that at least one Republican has announced that he will support marriage equality:
Sen. James Alesi, a Republican no vote in 2009, said he plans to vote yes on same-sex marriage, the first GOP lawmaker to move to the affirmative column.
Meanwhile, an administration official says Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to introduce his same-sex marriage bill “soon” with a copy of the text available later tonight. The introduction of the bill is a clear sign that the governor believes a vote in the Republican-led Senate would be successfully.
Two more votes are needed in order for the measure to be approved in the Senate, which needs a 32-vote majority. Three more Republicans would have to become yes votes in order to do so.