Spitzer: No Gay Issues in State of State

New York's new governor, Eliot Spitzer, made no mention of LGBT people or rights in either his inaugural address or his 22-page State of the State speech this week.

By: ANDY HUMM | New York's new governor, Eliot Spitzer, made no mention of LGBT people or rights in either his inaugural address or his 22-page State of the State speech this week. While the latter was titled, “One New York,” it did not include specific reference to the ways lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and people of transsexual experience are still second-class citizens under state law.

In the State of the State speech, dense with policy proposals, Spitzer said, “One New York means a state that understands that the civil rights movement still has chapters to be written,” but then proceeded to detail his concern for a worker who is “forced to choose between keeping her faith and keeping her job,” not the failure of the Legislature to take up a transgender rights bill nor the fact that same-sex couples cannot marry in New York.

Spitzer has stated “support” for the right of gay couples to marry since his 1998 winning run for state attorney general, but successfully defended the state's right to exclude them from marriage in court last year. He has promised to introduce a governor's program bill that would open marriage to gay couples.

The Empire State Pride Agenda, which could not be reached in time for comment on Spitzer's omissions on gay issues, enthusiastically supported Spitzer's election. He appeared at the group's Albany Lobby Day in May pledging to make equal marriage “law in New York.” He reiterated that support during one of his gubernatorial debates with Republican John

Faso, who accused him of trying to “shove same-sex marriage down the throats of New Yorkers.”

Alan Van Capelle has said that an equal marriage bill can be passed within two years “if the community puts its mind to it.” He is personally committed to being in Albany every week that the Legislature is in session, particularly focusing on getting a vote in the overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly this year.

In 2005, Spitzer told out gay Mayor John Shields of upstate Nyack, a plaintiff in the lawsuit for gay marriage rights, that he expected it to take 10 years for an equal marriage bill to pass the Legislature, a characterization the new governor did not specifically recall when he spoke to Gay City News last summer.

Democrats enjoy an overwhelming majority in the state Assembly, but Republicans have a four-seat edge in the state Senate, and even if the lower chamber could be convinced to move a marriage bill-it has never had a hearing there-GOP leaders in the upper house are unlikely to budge at this time. Democratic prospects for gaining control of the Senate inched up slightly with the resignation of Nassau County Senator Michael Balboni, a Republican, who will be Spitzer's homeland security chief. Another uncertainty for the GOP Senate leadership came from the recent revelations about an FBI corruption probe into the private business dealings of longtime Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

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