Monday, April 23, 2007

Spitzer to introduce gay-marriage bill

I love Eliot Spitzer. He's got courage.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer will introduce a bill in the coming weeks to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, his spokeswoman said Friday, a move that would propel New York to the forefront of one of the most contentious issues in politics.

That's gay marriage, not civil unions. And it's not the most popular thing he could have done. It'll play well in New York City, but not so much upstate.

Prospects for passage are uncertain.

Legislation to allow same-sex marriage has never made it to a floor vote in either the Assembly, which has a Democratic majority, or the Republican-controlled State Senate. Sheldon Silver, the Assembly speaker, has declined to take a stand on the issue. Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, has supported legislation to outlaw hate crimes and workplace discrimination against gays, but he remains opposed to same-sex marriage.

Even among lawmakers who say they favor the legislation, there is some division over the best strategy to get it passed. Two legislators from Manhattan, State Senator Thomas K. Duane and Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, both Democrats, have tried for several years to shepherd a gay-marriage bill through the Legislature and are trying again this year. That bill has at least 14 sponsors in the Senate and 42 in the Assembly.

So it's a start, but it might be a symbolic one.

I also like the other initiative mentioned in the story: pushing a constitutional amendment requiring nonpartisan legislative redistricting. I've written about the general idea here and here, but it's nice to see a state taking actual steps to get it done.

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