Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hell Has Frozen Over II

The last time I wrote that hell froze over it was when Ted Olson came out for marriage equality.

Now it's happened again, with the former Senate Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, Joe Bruno -- a man who held up a gay rights bill for years, without allowing a vote and has been a fierce foe of gay rights -- now coming out for marriage equality.

What's going on? Today I had Paul Schindler on from Gay City News to make some sense of the chaos in the Senate. (Paul has written a piece, summarizing a lot of what he told me about the ins and outs; it apparently had little to do with marriage equality.) One of the Democrats who bolted and helped give the Senate to the Republicans, Pedro Espada, in his new leadership role, stated that marriage equality will get a vote under the Republicans. (He is also a supporter of marriage equality.)

Then we have Bruno coming out for marriage for gays and lesbians -- a man who still has a lot of influence among Republicans in the State Senate -- and actually agreeing to speak out and try to sway Republicans (we only need four Republicans or so to win this) at Governor Paterson's request on the issue. I think it's clear that they see the handwriting on the wall: The entire Northeast has gone for marriage equality, while, on a variety of issues, the Republican Party is having a moment of truth nationally and surely in the region. There will soon only be two Republicans in New York State's Congressional delegation, as the national party went further to the right and people in New York just weren't going to go there.

They know that they have to either adapt or be extinct. They know that part of what lost them the Senate after all those years was the organizing of gay rights advocates, raising money from around the country and targeting vulnerable Republicans in order to hand the Senate to the Dems and get a marriage vote. The Republicans aren't going to let that happen again, even it means shifting on marriage. At least, that's how it all seems. Listen to Bruno, a man who still probably has lots of things he can get from a Republican Senate in the future, suddenly having an epiphany!